William Lujan has advanced to the state cross country meet for the first time.
The Rice Consolidated High School senior was the only one from the boys team to advance. The team placed 13th among 24 teams in the UIL 3A Region IV meet Oct. 28.
Lujan completed the 5,000-meter race in 20th place among 172, finishing in 18 minutes, 12.90 seconds.
“He ran very, very well and was able to get that 10th spot for state,” first-year coach Clayton Bowen said.
“It was a tough course,” he said. “The times were a little bit higher from what they were in the past.”
Although Lujan ran the course last year, he said the course was different. “They made it longer,” he said. “I was a little more tired. It was three loops around this course. By the third loop, everyone was feeling it.”
“I was pretty pleased,” he said. “I know I have to go faster (at state).”
He said the boys started fast. “A lot of people went out hard in the first mile, and everyone caught up,” he said.
Neither Haley Ray nor Kyana Hailey advanced for the girls.
But Ray completed the 2-mile race in a season-best time to finish ahead of her teammate. She placed 43rd among 180 in 13:49.68.
“She hadn’t run a 13 all year,” Bowen said. “She’s been making big strides in practice and really pushing. She was able to find a rhythm. She had a good pace that first mile and was able to pick it up the second mile.”
Ray said she shaved a minute off her time between the district and regional races. “I was surprised in myself,” said the sophomore, who started competing in cross country during eighth grade and also competes in track and field. “I feel really good about this year.”
Her race strategy worked. “I take smaller steps, but I move my feet faster. I don’t get tired,” she said. “The last 200, I try to stride, and then I sprint.”
The lead pack wasn’t too far from her. “Everybody normally starts out fast,” she said. “I was in the top quarter pretty much most of the time.”
Track and field was her main sport to begin the school year, she said, yet after her success this season, cross country is an equal. “It took me a while to build that endurance,” said Ray, whose parents attended the regional.