A year ago, Tracy Johnson made Poolville history when she became the first girl t qualify for the State Cross Country Meet.
This year she will have plenty of company as the entire Lady Monarchs team qualified for Saturday's Class 2A Meet at Old Settler's Park in Round Rock.
In fact, the entire area will be well-represented.
The Poolville girls will be joined by Brock’s girls team, which is competing in the Class 3A Meet. Also, Brock will have two boys competing individually, juniors Jared Steele and Brennan Freeze.
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Aledo will be represented in the Class 5A Meet by junior Harrison Tillman. He qualified individually with an eighth-place finish at regionals.
From regionals, the top four teams in each classification, along with the top 10 runners not on qualifying teams, earned berths at state.
"I am beyond proud of these young ladies," said Poolville coach Courtney McCollough, whose team finished fourth at the 2A Region II Meet in Grand Prairie.
"Three years ago, my first year coaching here - actually anywhere - we had four (female) runners compete at the district. You must have five for scoring to be considered a team. Last year we placed fifth at district, though we saw great improvement.
"These young ladies have worked very hard, and it is no secret that they often dread practice. The team motto is `If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.'"
Johnson led the way at regionals, finishing 14th individually with a time of 13:25.85 over 2 miles. Also on the team is her sister, Trinity, a freshman, along with juniors Emery Lang and Jamie Lackey, sophomore Billie Roberts, freshman Emeleigh Terry, and senior Ludovica De Joannon.
"It's a great experience for my younger sister to run at state with me," said Tracy. "I love doing sports with my sister because it makes her try to be a better player than me."
For the first time in six seasons, the Brock Lady Eagles are advancing to state as a team. They placed second in the Class 3A Region II Meet, also in Grand Prairie. Freshman Kylee Laverty led the way, finishing ninth individually with a 2-mile time of 12:49.79.
Laverty’s finish would have qualified her on her own as the top four teams and top 10 individuals not on those teams advanced from each classification.
Also on the Lady Eagles are freshmen Marjorie Patterson, Lauren Wakefield and Lacie McKinzie; sophomores Kristen Tighe and McKenzie Marr; and junior Sarah Rattan.
"I am very excited for this group of girls. We are led by four really talented freshmen, but also have a core of upperclassmen who have been great leaders for this group," said Brock coach Chance Westmoreland.
"I think our best years are ahead of us, but I know these girls would love to medal at state.
"I’m also very excited for Jared and Brennan. They have worked extremely hard this season, and I think they will also run well at state."
Steele was 19th among 3A Region II boys, posting a 17:29.05 over 3.1 miles, while Freeze was 20th at 17:29.74.
Because of the intense rain that hit the area the weekend before regionals, times at that meet were considerably slower than district. This week, the runners face a new challenge at state.
The course in Round Rock is known for being hilly, an added challenge to many teams. However, Westmoreland said his team is prepared.
"Our team will be new to the course. However, our home course is very challenging, so I think we have the potential to run really well at state."
The Bearcats are represented this season by a young man who defied nature. Despite the muddy terrain at regionals, Tillman, a two-time regional qualifier as a freshman and sophomore, broke through to state this season by setting a school record in regional competition of 15:46.34 over 3.1 miles. He broke the mark set last year by state qualifier Michael Meadows (15:52).
Tillman finished in the top 10 in six of seven races this season. He won three meets and ran under 16 minutes in three separate races. His finish in Lubbock placed him in the top 20 in the State in Class 5A.