ROUND ROCK - Kevin Baez's feet sunk deeper into the mud with every step he took Saturday.
Shiner's Brooke Kloesel paces herself after regaining her footing in the Class 2A girls state cross country meet Saturday in Round Rock.
[ NOTE: click photo to enlarge ]
Victoria Advocate photo
The Industrial freshman led all area runners after finishing eighth overall in the Class 3A boys race of the UIL Cross Country State Meet with a time of 16 minutes, 56.05 seconds while braving the slick and muddy conditions at Old Settlers Park.
"It was amazing," Baez said. "Coming here to state and getting eighth as a freshman is amazing. The weather stunk, but we got through it."
Steady rain showers drenched the running course for three hours, leaving the soft ground at the mercy of thousands of stomping feet. By the time Flatonia teammates Matthew Rowell and Jesus Hernandez stepped to the starting line for the final race of the day, the 3.1-mile trail was one part Slip N Slide and another part sink hole.
"It makes your legs really heavy, so you can't pick up your legs," said Rowell, who finished 61st in the Class 2A boys race with a time of 20:51.12. "It's hard, you just have to work through it."
Added Hernandez who finished 56th with a time of 20:43.43, "We could have done better if it wasn't muddy or rainy or anything, but you can't control that. But that was fun. I'd do it again if I could."
While the two teammates were able to keep their balance on the course, running on the edges where the ground was not as worn, other runners were not as fortunate.
"It was crazy," said Shiner senior Maggie Grosenbacher who finished 91st with a time of 15:51.72 in the Class 2A girls race. "I fell like five times. There were like puddles all over the course... I didn't do as well as I wanted to, but it's a feeling I will never forget."
While soggy conditions took their toll on many runners' times, they did not dampen the spirits of the athletes as they soaked in the experience of running at the state's top level.
"Any weather is good to run," said Industrial's Leo Baez, who finished the Class 3A boys race in 47th place with a time of 17:56.8 while racing alongside his brother. "I think we did pretty well even though we were slipping and sliding. It felt good. I'm just so excited to be here."
It was a banner day for the Industrial cross country team which not only celebrated Kevin Baez's eighth-place finish, but also received a stellar performance from senior Cassidy High, who finished 29th in the girls race with a time of 13:03.44.
High led a Lady Cobras team that qualified for state for the first time in decades, helping Industrial to a 16th-place finish.
"I'm pleased with the day," Industrial coach Robert Elkins said. "Our girls team qualified for state, which hasn't happened in a long time, and Cassidy High finished 29th, which is the highest she has finished in state after qualifying the past four years."
Elkins also has high hopes for the future of the program, especially as Kevin Baez continues to grow as a runner.
"I actually believe he's going to win a state championship before it's over," Elkins said. "He's pretty mature. He's an A student, and he's a tireless worker. He puts in a lot of miles for us."
Rice Consolidated's Ryan Trahan finished 17th in the boys race with a time of 17:16.20.
The Goliad girls team finished in 15th place.
While not quite finishing the way she had planned, Grosenbacher capped a solid cross country career for the Lady Comanches. Shiner coach Michelle Winkenwerder said her presence will certainly be missed next season.
"She is a great role model and a great leader," Winkenwerder said. "She is the type of kid you wish you could make a carbon copy of, because the kids really look up to her."
Hernandez and Rowell helped lead the Flatonia boys to a 15th-place finish.
The Moulton girls finished 13th in the Class 1A race with a team score of 317 points and a time of 1:22:23.87.
Janeth Colchado led the Bobkittens, after coming in 84th with a time of 16:05.53.
The Moulton boys finished 16th with a team score of 397 and a time of 1:55:07.26 and were led by Irineo Barbosa who finished in 59th with a time of 21:53.29.
Girls Class 1A
Rayvin Kalisek (Sophomore) - Overall 106, Adjusted 67 in 16:37.59 with 8.19/m
Janeth Colchado (Sophomore) - Overall 84, Adjusted 49 in 16:05.53 with 8:03/m
Mercedes Manzano (Freshman) - Overall 97, Adjusted 58 in 16:20.59 with 8:10/m
Hannah Kalisek (Freshman) - Overall 131, Adjusted 91 in 17:40.91 with 8.50/m
Angelina Guzman (Freshman) - Overall 124, Adjusted 84 in 17:18.86 with 8:39/m
Argelia Colchado (Sophomore) - Overall 98, Adjusted 59 in 16:21.30 with 8:11/m
Mandi Mitchon (Sophomore) - Overall 146, Adjusted 106 in 20:05.16 with 10:03/m
1st - Cumby Miller Grove with 39 places, 1:10:29.45 time, average time in 14:05.89
2nd - O'Donnell with 104 places, 1:14:06.99 time, average time in 14:49.40
3rd - Hartley with 127 places, 1:14:31.54 time, average time in 14:54.31
13th - Moulton with 317 places, 1:22:23.87 time, average time in 16:32.77
Girls Class 2A
Clara "Maggie" Grosenbacher (Senior) - Overall 91, Adjusted
Brooke Kloesel (Sophomore) - Overall 114, Adjusted