Trying something new can be fun. And, often, if you like it, you keep on doing it.
Such is the case with Peaster cross country runner Geronimo Lopez.
The Greyhounds are known for having one of the state's top runners on their squad, 2016 state qualifier Brice Hardin, a junior. He was back competing at the 3A Region I Meet at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock after winning District 7-3A with a time of 17:32 over 3.1 miles.
Lopez, also a junior, is a foreign exchange student from Argentina who decided to join the team this season. He, however, does not have a cross country background. In fact, the sport is new to him. His major sports experience comes mostly from soccer and rugby.
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Remember, though, those sports do involve a lot of running.
"This entire experience is new to him. Geronimo had never seen a cross country race before (this season)," Peaster coach Debra Wood said. "He is doing an amazing job, considering he has never trained for anything like this.
"The team has enjoyed having Geronimo with them this year. They have obviously benefited from his athletic ability, but they have also enjoyed his attitude. He is constantly smiling during practice. It has been fun to watch him experience so many new things."
Indeed, Lopez finished third at the 7-3A Meet, clocking a time of 18:18. He played a major role in the entire Peaster boys squad advancing to regionals.
"I have made some good friends. We all help each other during practices and at meets," Lopez said. "We work really hard but have a lot of fun. Everyone sacrifices for the team."
At press time, Hardin and Lopez, along with numerous other Parker County runners were trying to advance to the University Interscholastic League State Cross Country Meet Nov. 4 in Round Rock at Old Settlers Park. The top four teams and top 10 individuals from each regional meet will qualify for state.
Weatherford (6A), Aledo (5A), Brock, Millsap and Peaster (all 3A) had run runners in their respective Region I meets at Mae Simmons Park, while Poolville was entered in the Class 2A Region II Meet at Lynn Creeek Park in Grand Prairie.
A handful of runners have been to state before. This includes the brother-sister sophomore Aledo duo of Graydon and Gracie Morris, Brock junior Kylie Laverty, Weatherford sophomore Sadie Tharp, and Hardin.
"Brice is running strong and comfortable," Wood said. "We have been careful not to peak yet. Mentally, he is prepared, strong and capable and barring some freak injury, he will make it to state."
For the Morris family, the sibling rivalry continues this cross country season as Graydon and Gracie find themselves once again among the best in the state.
Both captured their respective championships in District 6-5A. Graydon finished third in the state last season and Gracie was fifth.
"They are really running well," said Aledo coach Mike Pinkerton. "Both have a tremendous work ethic and passion for running. Unless you have seen them run, you may not understand how effortless they make it look, truly a testament to their work ethic and determination."
Graydon entered the regional meet seeded first in the state among Class 5A boys, based on his time of 15:05 over 3.1 miles in a Sept. 30 meet. He is fourth overall among runners throughout all classifications.
Gracie is ranked third in Class 5A and leads Region I based on her time of 17:37 in a Sept. 2 meet.
BROCK BOYS, GIRLS HOPE TO FOLLOW DISTRICT TITLES WITH MORE
Two years ago Laverty was part of the entire Brock girls team as the Lady Eagles advanced to state as a whole. The Lady Eagles and Eagles entered regionals on the heels of both winning District 7-3A.
Laverty returned to state last season as an individual. She'd like to bring her teammates with her again this year.
"She has been our No. 1 runner in every meet. She has finished first in half of our meets this year and never out of the top five," Brock coach Keith Shoush said. "If she gets out early and gives herself a chance to run in front of the pack, she will give herself a great chance to advance."
The Eagles had the 4-6 finishers at district, Peyton Murley (18:30), Luke Hamilton (18:41), and Jacob Rouse (18:54).
The Lady Eagles had five top-10 finishers, led by district runner-up Laverty's time of 13:24 over 2 miles. Also, Ashlynn Tutter (13:49) was fifth, Lacie McKinzie (13:52) was sixth, Sydnie Lane (13:57) was seventh, and Lauren Wakefield (14:13) placed ninth.
THARP SEEKING REPEAT
Tharp's freshman season at Weatherford ended with a trip to state. She earned another shot by finishing fifth at the District 3-6A Meet, posting a time of 19:44 over 3.1 miles.
Joining her at regionals was senior Austin Christmas among the boys. He qualified by placing fourth at district with a time of 17:02.
Tharp qualified despite spraining her ankle two days prior to the district meet. Coach Ty Comstock said she is ready to run at regionals, though.
"Sadie did not have her best race at district. This should not be an issue at regionals, and she is going in at about the same spot as last year," he said. "When you get to this point, it's all about showing up on race day."
MONARCHS MAKING 16TH STRAIGHT REGIONAL APPEARANCE
The Poolville Monarchs are once again competing in the regional cross country meet. What else is new?
After winning the District 11-2A championship recently on their own course, the Monarchs qualified for a 16th straight season.
At district, the Monarchs were led by the top two overall finishers of freshman Henry Fierro, with a time of 16:27 over 3.1 miles, and Garrett Mott in 17:05. Trendan Parish (17:32) was sixth, and Zaine Mansell (18:07) was 10th.
Meanwhile, the Lady Monarchs also qualified as a team, finishing second. They were led by fifth-place finish Emery Lang, who clocked a 13:14.