For the first time this season, Belton senior Zach Dennison was passed. His team, however, was not.
After earning a pair of individual championships to start the Tigers’ schedule, the standout was unable to emerge victorious at Thursday’s Midway Invitational, placing third overall with a time of 15 minutes, 45.1 seconds.
Dennison still departed from the meet with a gold medal, though, as all five of Belton’s runners finished in the top 15, propelling the Tigers to a field-low 38 points – 29 fewer than second-place Ellison – and the Class 5A-6A team title.
The Lady Tigers also delivered a strong showing, capturing first place by 17 points as freshman Olivia Brillhart’s silver-medal run was followed by a quartet of top-18 finishes.
Running along a 3-mile course at Waco’s Heart of Texas Soccer Complex, Dennison’s outing was complemented by junior teammates Riley Dyck (sixth, 16:35.1) and Clayton Oaks (ninth, 16:42.8) and seniors Cooper Fix (12th, 16:44.4) and David Duncan (15th, 16:50.5).
Additionally, Belton junior Cole Chrisman placed 17th with a time of 16:52.7, but his score did not count toward the team total.
Ellison junior Aaron Crittenden, who finished second to Dennison twice, claimed his first individual title of the year, crossing the finish line with a season-best time of 15:19.3 – more than 40 seconds faster than his previous mark.
Eagles senior Hunter Cox (10th, 16:42.9) was the first of four more Ellison harriers to place in the top 24, helping the squad beat out third-place A&M Consolidated by six points.
Led by junior Cade Perry, who finished fifth overall with a time of 16:33.8, Harker Heights was sixth with 144 points.
Brillhart’s time of 18:33.7 set the stage for the Lady Tigers to earn their second team title of the season despite Harker Heights producing a pair of top-three runners for the second time in three meets.
Lady Knights sophomore Ella Perry posted a championship time of 18:19.3, while her teammate Kailynn Denney earned bronze with a time of 18:42.5, but Harker Heights simply did not possess enough depth.
Along with Brillhart, senior Shannon Cook (10th, 20:21.0), freshman Liliana Nelson (11th , 20:21.9), junior Jareli Reyes (17th , 20:54.0) and senior Lesa Doskocil (18th , 20:57.5) each had sub 21-minute times for Belton, which finished with 48 points. The Lady Knights (65) had just the two.
With four runners placing in the top 23, Ellison scored 89 points to place third, while Gatesville competed a level above its classification and finished sixth with 134 points as freshman Vania Martinez (19:17.0) placed seventh individually.
LADY BRONCOS WIN SECOND TEAM TITLE
Individual champion Macey Weber helped Lake Belton place three runners among the top five, and the Lady Broncos easily captured the Class 1A-4A team title by 26 points.
Weber, a sophomore, posted a time of 13:00.6 along the two-mile course, while freshman teammates Avelina Betancourt (fourth, 13:25.7) and Alyssa Tagle (fifth, 13:25.9) followed. Denyella Wheeless (13th, 13:53.2) and Amaya Crowder (18th, 13:58.5) rounded out Lake Belton’s scoring.
Additionally, Lady Broncos harriers Alexandria Lewis (14:02.6), Kennidi Fleming (14:04.6), Dalilah Zuniga (14:07.7), Deja Cavazos (14:08.4) and Emma Jez (14:13.8) finished consecutively to occupy 20th through 24th place, but their times did not count toward the team total.
Hamilton (61) followed in the standings, while Palestine (75) was third.
In the boys division, Gatesville junior Carlo Martinez won the individual championship by completing the 3-mile race in 16:04.7, helping the Hornets place sixth as a team.
Luis Macias, a senior, complemented the outing by finishing sixth with a time of 17:09.1, but the next Gatesville runner did not cross until 34th place, and the Hornets tallied 145 points – three fewer than seventh-place Lake Belton.
Hamilton earned the team title, posting 64 points to beat out Hillsboro (87) and Palestine (102).