The gaps are closing.
At last week’s season-opening Belton Invitational, Tigers senior Zach Dennison and Harker Heights sophomore Ella Perry established themselves as District 12-6A’s elite runners, with each claiming individual championships by at least 15 seconds.
The pair remained atop the Class 5A-6A field at Friday’s Pro-Fit Invitational, but they were challenged.
Racing along a 3-mile course traversing Temple’s Wilson Park, Dennison posted a time of 16 minutes, 1.0 seconds to narrowly beat out Ellison junior Aaron Crittenden, who finished 4.7 seconds later.
On the girls side, Perry completed the trek in 19:08, while her closest competitor from District 12-6A was Belton freshman Olivia Brillhart (third, 19:29.9), who was more than 40 seconds behind Perry en route to a third-place showing last week.
While the individual races tightened, the end results remained similar.
After capturing both team championships last week, Belton finished second overall in each division as the Tigers placed all five of their runners in the top 28, and the Lady Tigers placed three in the top 15 and four in the top 26.
Brillhart’s performance was complemented by teammates Shannon Cook (14th, 21:06.0), Hailey Schutz (15th, 21:06.1), Liliana Nelson (26th, 21:54.1) and Lesa Doskocil (22:20.1) to total 86 points.
Liberty Hill won with 68 points, while Ellison (113) was third.
Paced by Dennison, Clayton Oaks (14th, 17:04.7), Cooper Fix (23rd, 17:23.1), Riley Dyck (26th, 17:25.9) and David Duncan (28th, 17:34.3), the Tigers produced 69 points to be situated between first-place Liberty Hill (45) and third-place Ellison (97).
Tyson Tamez, a junior, finished in 16:28.9 to place third individually and guide Temple to a fifth-place finish with 129 points — 19 points behind Round Rock Westwood. Harker Heights (seventh, 211) and Copperas Cove (ninth, 254) also competed.
Lady Knights junior Kailynn Denney, who placed second overall at the Belton Invitational, finished sixth with a time of 19:54.5, to help guide Harker Heights to a sixth-place outing as a team with 133 points, while Kera Harvey (eighth, 20:33.3) was the first of three Lady Eagles to place in the top 20.
Temple (ninth, 210) was the only other area team in attendance.
SALADO EKES OUT 1A-4A GIRLS TITLE
Salado freshman Alexa Williams won the 2-mile race with a time of 12:52.0, freshman teammate Penelope Anderson (12:58.8) was third, and the combination proved to be just enough as the Lady Eagles earned the girls championship by a mere two points.
Lorena (57) was second.
Anna Redelsheimer (16th, 13:40.4), Natalie Burleson (20th, 13:53.6) and Sydney Lange (24th, 14:14.4) rounded out Salado’s scoring.
Led by sophomore Macey Weber (18th, 13:47.6), Lake Belton was third with 131 points, while sophomore Kate Boone (10th, 13:23.5) helped Temple Holy Trinity (330) place 14th.
In the boys division, which was a 3-mile race, Salado finished a distant second behind champion Giddings, which scored 33 points behind four top-eight outings. Robinson was third with 135 points.
Paced by freshman Luke Anderson’s sixth-place showing in a time of 17:34.2, the Eagles recorded 104 points. Robinson (135) was third.
Salado’s final four runners — junior Ryan Novotny (16th, 18:23.5), senior Isaac Huerta (26th, 19:02.5), junior Brooks Dabney (32nd, 19:10.5) and sophomore Morgan Hauck (40th, 19:19.3) — each placed in the top 40.
Salado opened its season last week at the Hillsboro Invitational, where the Eagles won the team championship, and the Lady Eagles were second.
Lake Belton was sixth with 173 points as sophomore Luke Yarbrough posted a team-best 17th -place run, finishing in 18:25.2, while junior Bruce Reed (23rd, 18:45.3) led Holy Trinity to 346 points for 15th place overall.
Cameron Yoe senior Nathan Evans won the individual title with a time of 16:48.5, helping the Yoemen accumulate 137 points for a fourth-place showing.