By Alex Byington and Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Boys MVP -- Silvester Harrison, Ellison
After four years of running with the same flock, Silvester Harrison is ready to venture out on his own.
But the Ellison senior isn't leaving without plenty of fond memories.
"I wouldn't say it's over - it's kind of the beginning," said Harrison, who was selected as the Daily Herald's All-Area Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.
"Looking back on it now, in retrospect, it was a good ride. I loved my teammates, we had a really cool team with the two twins - the Mayos - and Hector (Hernandez), it was just good times all around."
Despite a youthful appearance, Harrison paced the Eagles with back-to-back solo appearances at Class 5A state meet, finishing 34th this year at Round Rock's Old Settlers Park with a time of 16 minutes, 33.70 seconds.
Along with fellow seniors Max and Sam Mayo and Hector Hernandez, the quartet improved each year they were in high school, eventually winning the District 12-5A team championship this season behind a individual gold medal finish (16:16.37) from Harrison at the Top Tier Training Camp in Caldwell.
Now, as he tries to decide which top-tier Division I program he wants to run for next season, Harrison isn't quite ready to leave high school behind just yet.
"It feels good leaving on top, I guess, but I just don't want to leave," Harrison said. "I wish I could go back to freshman year and just relive it all again. With what I know now, everything would be so much easier.
"Words of wisdom for everyone - hard work works."
Girls MVP -- Brittany Mitchell, Killeen
The UIL state cross country meet is a goal for a lot of runners in the state.
For Brittany Mitchell, it is now an expectation.
With two trips to the meet at Round Rock's Old Settlers Park in as many years, the Killeen sophomore's goal is to not only make the state meet but, eventually win it.
"I push and train hard because, yeah, I do expect to go to state. But, for most people, it is a goal. It's my goal and expectation, too, I guess," said Mitchell, who for the second straight year is the Daily Herald's All-Area Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.
"I wouldn't want to make state as a freshman and not as a sophomore, so that set a standard for me."
After a 32nd-place finish at the state meet as a freshman, Mitchell had a tougher time contending with the weather and the competition this year, finishing 34th in 12 minutes, 18 seconds, almost 14 seconds slower than her time as a freshman.
"I was aiming for the top-10, even first, and it didn't work out as a I planned," Mitchell said. "I'm not sure if it was the competition or just my start - I've noticed that both (of my) state appearances I've had trouble with my start - but I'm going to work on that, though."
Just a week before, though, she finished third at the Region I-4A cross country meet at Lubbock's Mae Simmons Park running a personal best 11:21.79 and led the Lady Roos to a seventh-place overall finish. She defended her individual District 8-4A championship in 12:22 and led the Lady Roos to their second-straight team district championship.
All-Area Cross Country Team
ALISSA GONZALEZ, Gatesville
2011: After reaching the 3A state meet in her first year running, Gonzalez did it again, finishing 24th with a time of 12:44.33. She ran a 12:11.8 to finish sixth at the regional meet, running nearly 16 seconds faster than her third-place time at the District 19-3A meet, where the Hornets took third.
ASHLEY ADAMS, Salado
2011: Advancing to her second straight Class 3A state meet in as many seasons, the young Adams again paced the Lady Eagles with a 28th place finish (12:47.86) after taking fourth (12:10.4) at the Region IV-3A meet at San Antonio's NSC Complex.
KASSANDRA BOOKER, Harker Heights
2011: Seeking to help the Lady Knights make it back to the Region II-5A meet as a team after missing out last season, Booker did her part at the District 12-5A meet advancing individually for the second straight year. Her fifth-place finish (12:34.46) was 22 seconds off her 12-5A pace a year ago when she finished sixth (12:12.6). Booker also took sixth (12:07) at the Hewitt Kiwanis Midway Cross Country Invitational, helping the Lady Knights finish second as a team.
ARIUS DUPONT, Killeen
2011: Finished third at the District 8-4A meet with a time of 13:03.52, but helped lead the Lady Roos to a 1-2-3 finish and second straight district championship. Dupont, who returned to cross country after missing the last two seasons, improved her time at the Region I-4A meet (12:39.13).
AMY MARTINEZ, Lampasas
2011: Martinez was the Lady Badgers' top finisher at the District 25-3A met, placing seventh with a time of 13:33. At the regional meet, she took 26th after running a 13:00.8. She was barely the team's second-best runner there, finishing just 0.3 seconds behind teammate Michaela Ellison.
JORDAN KLOSSNER, Gatesville
2011: Reached the 3A state meet for the first time after a fifth-place regional finish, placing 24th at state with a time of 17:06.14. Klossner also finished fifth at the District 19-3A meet (17:43.3), helping lead the Hornets to their second district championship in as many seasons.
JADA KORNEGAY, Salado
2011: Led Salado's charge to the 3A state meet and posted the best time for the Eagles, who finished ninth overall. Kornegay placed 43rd at state (17:26.98), which came on the heels of Salado finishing third at the Region IV-3A meet and second at the 25-3A meet with three top-10 finishers. He's a two-time 3A regional qualifier, playing 15th at regionals (17:07.2) and third at district (17:08)
THOMAS BERG, Florence
2011: The state qualifier finished 65th at the 2A meet, running a time of 18:25.27 in windy conditions that gave everyone fits and slowed times. Berg reached the state meet after a ninth-place showing at the Region IV meet, which he ran in 17:05.5 to advance.
ROBERT CAVIN, Harker Heights
2011: Without the legs of graduated runners Mike Odeh and Kyle Thompson, Cavin was the guy for the Knights, pacing his way to a second-place finish at the District 12-5A meet with a time of 16:49.39 to advance to region for the second straight year.
CAMERON WOODBERRY, Copperas Cove
2011: Filling the shoes left by Derwin Graham, a former Boys MVP now at Baylor, Woodberry made the most of his time. He finished fifth at the District 12-5A meet with a time of 17:05.51, advancing to the regional meet for the second time where Woodberry placed 20th (15:45.57).