Northwest cross country pushing for top district finish

Posted Monday, Oct. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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When the District 4-5A cross country meet rolls around in just a week, Northwest fully expects to be near the top with all the usual suspects.

The Texans boys and girls teams are already having favorable showings at meets since early in the school year. The key meet, though, is the district cross country event which will serve as the qualifier to move on to regionals.

Helping to pace the Texans are experienced runners who have already helped establish the program as a contender in North Texas meets.

The teams began workouts the last week of June, with the first meet before classes started.

On the girls side, one of the favorites to lead the way for Northwest is Kellee McCann. Along with Kathryn Chavez, the Lady Texans should push teams such as Carroll and Keller for the top spots at the district meet.

McCann and Chavez were both regional qualifiers last year, with Chavez winning the regional meet.

At this year’s McNeil Invitational, McCann was third and Chavez finished ninth.

McCann won the Ken Garland Invitational with Chavez second earlier in the season.

“Kathryn’s getting back in shape after an injury,” Northwest head coach George Lutkenhaus said. “All the girls are having a good season so far and are competing well.”

Lutkenhaus said the season has been going well, in part, as a result of one of the better summer workouts he’s seen from the team since he’s been at Northwest.

Helping build the team for the Texans is a great supporting cast, including Sydney Benes, Desiree Kirkland, Rebecca Christman, Ivy Diefenbach and Bailee Nelson.

Benes, one of three seniors, said the girls are working well together this year. “We all are really focused on one main goal as a team,” Benes said of getting to the regional, and then the state meet. “We get along well and train well together. In practice, the top two run their own pace and the rest of us try to run together in a pack,” noting that McCann and Chavez normally lead the way for Northwest.

“Sydney has really had a good season,” Lutkenhaus said. “She’s been a rock and we know we can count on her.”

“Our goal is to beat Southlake at district and trust each other and run like we’ve never run before,” Benes said.

The top 10 individuals and top three teams from the district meet will move on to the regional meet.

The girls have taken first at the Jerry Garza Invitational, the Gingerbread Jamboree at Denton the Northwest invitational, and they’ve won fourth at the Greenhill Relays.

Back again for the Northwest boys is Zach Kirkland, a state qualifier in both cross country and track last year.

Running alongside Kirkland are Jacob Suchors, Trevor Bohr, Jackson Miller, David Flanagin and Hunter Hart, with Ismeal Munoz and Jeremiah Baugh forming the core of group.

The boys have won meets early in the season, said Lutkenhaus, and they finished second behind Keller at the Northwest meet and seventh out of 37 teams at the McNeil event.

Along with Benes, Suchors is one of the “unsung runners,” Lutkenhaus said.

Suchors, a junior, has had a strong season thus far, and also runs the 800m and mile in the track season.

And while his cross country season has been benefiting the Texans, Suchors admits he likes track for a few reasons. “I like track much better because of the shorter distances and we can run on a track in front of people,” he said.

Regardless, when on the course, Suchors said he tries to run with Kirkland as much as possible. “It helps me improve in practice when it’s me and him,” he said. “Having him around makes the goal to catch up with him.”

Suchors’ leadership is as valuable as his pace. “It’s five to seven guys and everyone’s working as a team,” Suchors said. “We try to keep everyone together during the race. During a race there are hundreds of people, so Zach will tap me on the elbow for communication.”

Northwest will compete at Lewisville before the district meet at Meadowmere Park in Grapevine on Oct. 24.

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