Belton delivered a one-sided showing at its season-opening home meet.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers swept the field, capturing both Class 5A-6A championships and doing so in dominant fashion.
Led by senior Zach Dennison, who completed the 3-mile course at Temple’s Wildflower Country Club with a first-place time of 15 minutes, 45.6 seconds, the Tigers produced four top-10 finishers, beating second-place Ellison by 38 points.
Meanwhile, the Lady Tigers placed all five of their runners in the top 21 and finished with 49 points, outscoring silver medalist Ellison by 18 points.
Olivia Brillhart (third, 19:42.7) was the first Lady Tiger to finish, placing behind a pair of Harker Heights teammates in individual champion Ella Perry (18:51.6) and runner-up Kailynn Denney (19:10.1). Shannon Cook (seventh , 20:44.1), Hailey Schutz (eighth, 20:48.7), Liliana Nelson (12th, 21:06.4) and Lesa Doskocil (21st, 22:01.4) rounded out Belton’s scoring.
Despite the impressive outings, the Lady Knights placed third overall with 79 points, edging out McGregor by just two points. Harker Heights finished with all of its harriers in the top 29, while Ellison’s runners all crossed in the top 20, including fourth-place Kera Harvey (20:15.3).
The only other area athlete in the top 10 was Killeen’s Michaela Mouton, who finished 10th with a time of 20:55.5.
Temple (sixth, 147) and Copperas Cove (eighth , 229) were the only other area schools to field a team.
Dennison’s outing was complemented by a cast of consistent teammates as the Tigers’ next five runners — Zachary White (17:20.7), Cooper Fix (17:23.3), Riley Dyck (17:24.4), David Duncan (17:30.3) and Clayton Oaks (17:30.6) — finished within 10 seconds of each other, occupying eighth through 12th place.
Ellison’s Aaron Crittenden seized second place with a time of 16:02.4, and the Eagles landed three more runners in the top 20 to help them beat out third-place Waco Midway (96).
Harker Heights (105) narrowly claimed fourth place over Temple (106) despite the Wildcats’ Tyson Tamez (fifth, 16:45.6) finishing a spot ahead of the Knights’ Cade Perry, who was sixth individually with a time of 17:03.3, atop the leaderboard.
Copperas Cove was sixth in the standings with 138 points as Ayden Seymour (17:16.4) was seventh individually.
LADY BRONCOS WIN 1A-4A TITLE
One week after opening its season at the unusual Mud, Sweat and Cheers relay run in Caldwell, Lake Belton took part in a more conventional event and thrived.
The Lady Broncos placed three runners in the top 10 and six in the top 13 to easily win the Class 1A-4A title with 36 points. Lampasas followed with 39.
Macey Weber (fifth, 13:32.1) and Emily Bachicha (sixth, 14:01.1) paced Lake Belton along the two-mile route, and they were followed by teammate Avelina Betancourt (10th, 14:14.6), who began a streak of four consecutive Lady Broncos — Alyssa Tagle (14:17.5), Dalilah Zuniga (14:2.5) and Denyella Wheeless (14:31.3) — crossing the finish line.
In between the series of Lake Belton harriers, Lady Badgers teammates Abigail Valdez (14:08.7) and Nyla Long (14:14.2) placed eighth and ninth, respectively.
Robinson and Georgetown Gateway Prep finished tied for third place in the standings with 75 points apiece. Florence also competed but did not field a complete team.
In the boys Class 1A-4A division, racing along on a 3-mile course, Lake Belton’s Samuel Yarbrough was the only area athlete to deliver a top-10 showing. He placed 10th individually with a time of 18:30.4.
The performance helped the Broncos place fourth in the team standings with 112 points. With its first four finishers among the top seven individuals, McGregor (30) easily won the team title and was followed at a distance by Georgetown Gateway Prep (79) and Robinson (80).
Lampasas tallied 142 points to finish sixth, and Florence was 10th with 266 points.