By Nick Talbot
Killeen Daily Herald
ROUND ROCK – Carlos Quinones ran up to DreVan Anderson-Kappa with a smile on his face and six fingers held up.
Anderson-Kappa, though, raised hand with all his fingers out stretched and corrected him.
Anderson-Kappa placed fifth, not sixth, at the Class 5A boys cross country championships Saturday at Old Settlers Park.
Upon realizing this, Quinones, the Killeen cross country coach, grabbed the senior cross country runner and gave him a hug, nearly lifting him off the ground.
"Our goal was to finish in the top 10," said Quinones, who finished third at the state meet three times (1979-81). "Then when I saw he was in the top 10, I told him let's go for another goal – let's go top five."
Anderson-Kappa, who ran the course in 15 minutes and 46.68 seconds, finished behind the duo of Nathan Christianson and Travis Barclay of Boerne Champion, who took the gold and silver medals with times of 15:24.32 and 15:28.03, respectively.
Anderson-Kappa was in 15th place after the first mile and made up the next 10 spots over the last two miles.
"Really it was a checkpoint-to-checkpoint race," Anderson-Kaapa said. "I was not thinking about the finish line until it was time to run the finish. And honestly I did not come all this way just to punk out in my head."
Meanwhile, both 5A competitions had the same feel – fast, really fast. And both were dominated by one runner, and the field was left trying to play catch-up.
Belton's Regan Tindell, who made three-straight state meets, was in third at the one-mile mark, but the excruciating pace set by defending state champion Sarah Andrews of The Woodlands (10:45.09) was too much for her legs.
The Belton senior tired out at the end and finished sixth with a time of 11:21.44.
"It was not exactly where I wanted to be," Tindell said. "I wanted to be top-five all three years. I just missed it by one place and it was tough competition. My legs just could not go and negative thoughts were starting to come in … people were passing me and I didn't get it."
The boys 5A championship race was eerily similar as Craig Lutz of Flower Mound Marcus jumped out to an early lead on the first mile and left everyone else vying for second. Lutz won the state championship by running an impressive 14:45.24. The time was nearly 23 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, Mark Pinales of Round Rock Stony Point.
Copperas Cove junior Derwin Graham finished 19th with a time of 15:53.31 and still felt the brunt of the race's pace.
"I felt like I could have done a whole lot better, but the pace was incredible," Graham said. "We came in the first mile at 4:36 and the two-mile at 9:56. So, we were flying.
"(Lutz) was in the lead the whole way, except for when we just started. Everyone went with him and I tried to, too, but I just did not have enough in the end."
Salado was the only area school that qualified as a team and was able to have five runners compete in the race.
The Eagles finished fifth overall in the Class 2A championships and were led by Patrick Murray, who ran the course in 17:15.81 and placed 16th.
Jace Peralta ran a 17:31 .34 and was 36th and Eric McGregor, Jada Kornegay and Robert Peirra were all in a bunch in 56th, 59th and 60th place.
In the girls' 2A race, Florence's Celeste "Bee" Meyer, who was making her fourth straight trip to the state championship, finished in 25th place in a time of 12:42.79.
"My second mile was a lot slower," said Meyer, who was in 13th after the first mile. "I just got tired physically and mentally. It is just hard when you have girls coming up behind you and breathing down your neck."
Contact Nick Talbot at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7569.