Taking Care of Business

Varsity Jackets Cross Country advances to regional meet


Noah Hansen, Reporter

   District Cross Country Meet… the varsity boys have one thing on their mind: to take their district crown back. Fueled by motivation to win after last year’s close second in district, the boys push each other through three miles of hard racing.  In the lapse of just two minutes and one second, the first five Stephenville Cross Country athletes, one after another, cross the finish line on the way to reclaiming their district title. 

   The team, having sustained several season ending injuries and various other challenges at home, has managed to overcome.

   From the beginning of the summer until the middle of October, the cross country team has been putting in the work necessary to improve their times consistently. Since the first few practices of the season, Coach Phelps knew that this year she was harboring a special group of runners.

   “Some athletes dropped minutes this year, some 20-30 seconds,”  Phelps said. “They all ran faster throughout the year. Jabez Esquivel had the number one biggest jump in fitness this year. Last year he only ran the 5K under 20 minutes on one occasion, but this year he ran it consistently in 18 minutes or under.”

    On October 25th, the varsity cross country team raced in the regional cross country meet at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock, Texas. After the boys won district by just two points ahead of Gatesville, they qualified for the race.

     “The senior leadership has been a huge attributing factor to this year’s success,” Phelps said.  “A few of the runners have been with me for three years. Their dedication taught the younger kids that every time you run, someone has your back, and that makes a big difference for the team to feel like they are always running for a bigger cause.”

   The athletes have started to figure out what works for them in terms of training, and since then, all the pieces started to fall into place.

   “I just trusted the workouts,” senior runner Eduardo Juarez said. “I took the easy days easy and the hard days hard, and that was enough.”

  Considering the amount of time that the team has put forth to their fitness this season, it is evident that they worked incredibly hard this year. Many of the exercises that the team has completed would be tough for even elite athletes.

   “Any of the repeat days, from mile repeats to 800 meter repeats to 200 meter repeats are pretty tough,” Phelps said. “The boys also did a workout this year that consisted of two miles, one mile, 800 meters, 400 meters, and then 800 meters, all with a couple minutes of rest in between.”

Many players had to drop out right before district.

   “We had a couple of key injuries this year, but we overcame that and had a very good year,” Phelps said.

   In the 2020 season, the team came into the district meet with an incomplete team. COVID-19 prevented several athletes from competing at the 2020 district meet in Lampasas. These challenges were a factor of the team falling short and finishing second in district. While such an experience could have been discouraging for the team, it instead acted as the team’s motivation to keep running. 

   “The boys were so upset about losing district last year, that the race gave them a new incentive to work even harder to prepare for this year’s district race,” Phelps said. “All throughout the spring and summer, the team kept their minds focused on taking back their district title. Every time we went to a meet, they called it a ‘business trip,’ because they were there to take care of business and win.”

Making it to regional level is nothing to laugh about, but Phelps believes that next year will be even better, and expects to have a great season in 2022.

   “I am extremely pleased with the way the season went, but I am extremely excited for next season,” Phelps said. “Winning district was the number one goal since we fell short last year. The team really stepped up and pulled it off.”