The Southlake Carroll girls cross country team is no stranger to success.
The Lady Dragons won seven state championships between 2000 and 2013 (2000, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013) and finished second at the state meet the last two consecutive seasons.
But the top two runners from last year’s program, Gillian Mortimer and Ali White, have moved on, and now it’s time for Angie Riera and Sofia Santamaria to take the reins.
“They will definitely be leaders on our team this year,” coach Justin Leonard said. “Both of them gained experience last season and they will be able to spread that experience amongst the team.”
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Riera ran a time of 18:47.00 at the state meet last season and said that the thing that impressed her most about last year’s team was that everyone was totally committed.
“Last cross country season was a very special one,” Riera said. “All of our girls were very competitive and dedicated to the sport. I think we all performed to the best of our abilities in every single race. Sadly, we came up short on our goal to win state, but every girl gave it their all, and at the end of the day, that’s what counts.”
Riera said that she believes the biggest strength of this year’s team is similar but not completely the same as in 2016.
“Every team that goes through this program has unique characteristics, and our team this year possesses a deep bond that really helps us focus on our goals,” Riera said. “We are very passionate about achieving our team goals and that makes us a very strong team.”
Santamaria ran an 18:33.10 at the state meet last season, and said that one of the great things about this year’s group is that everyone wants to be a part of a state championship team, and all of the girls are already running like that.
“It’s going to be a great year,” Santamaria said. “With four girls returning from last year and a few new ones, the Carroll girls are all working hard to keep their positions on the team.”
Santamaria added that everyone is giving 100 percent focus and effort in practice because they constantly want to remind themselves of “what’s to come, and what we must do.”
Leonard said that he believes the experience that Riera and Santamaria gained running at state last season will benefit the entire team.
“I really believe it will help with their confidence throughout the season,” Leonard said. “They are excited about the opportunity to get back to the state meet and leave a lasting mark.”