It was a moment one year in the making. Martin senior Cade Bethmann crossed the finish line in 16 minutes, 4 seconds on Oct. 20, winning the 4-6A cross-country meet and setting his boys team up for a team title.
The Martin girls, who had three runners in the top 10, also qualified for regionals after a second-place finish. Madeleine Rowe of Arlington High won the girls district title with a time of 19:43.
Bethmann finished 10th at district as a junior and helped his team finish third and qualify for the regional meet. After that 2015 race, Bethmann made his goal to secure an individual and team district title as a senior.
“I told my dad after district last year, ‘I don’t want to lose,’ ” Bethmann said. “ ‘I want to win individually and win as a team.’ Those were the two goals going into this cross-country season. That was a year of thinking about cross-country in the back of my mind and how I wanted to win the race and win as a team. We have so many seniors this year. I want to do it for them.”
Bethmann spent much of the race in a pack with the other top finishers, Antwain George of North Crowley and Davon Rodriguez of Bowie. But with about 200 meters left in the race, Bethmann made his move, creating a nine-second gap between himself and George, the second-place finisher.
“It was a strategic race for me,” Bethmann said. “It was about running with the top pack and knowing when was a good opportunity to move.”
Martin boys coach Chris Capeau called Bethmann exceptional at setting lofty goals and putting in the work to reach them. “We talked about it last cross-country season,” Capeau said. “He got 10th place at district and said, ‘Next year I’m going to win it.’ Sure enough, he won it. That’s where I want to give him credit: He’s such a strong person. When he gives his word, he does what it takes to keep his word.”
Bethmann wasn’t the only Martin runner with a standout performance at district. The Warriors wrapped up the team title on the strength of senior Matt Smith’s fourth-place finish, sophomore Jayce Turner’s seventh-place showing and 19th and 26th place finishes by Anthony Cimino and Jonathon Loggins. Cimino and Loggins set personal records in the race.
“I have two people I can look up to, and they really push me hard,” Turner said of Bethmann and Smith. “That’s made me better as a runner. If I didn’t have them to lead, I don’t know where I would be, as far as running.”
Bethmann, a track standout who owns the school record in the 800, was new to cross-country a year ago. But he’s now taken to the sport — so much so that he didn’t want his high school cross-country career to end. He and his Martin teammates ran in the Region I meet in Lubbock Saturday with the goal of qualifying for the 6A state meet.
“I am pretty far away from where I started,” Bethmann said. “But I can’t stop. The competitor in me doesn’t want to stop. I don’t want to go to Lubbock and stop again like I did last year. I want to prolong my season. I want to go to state.”
The 4-6A football district has not seen much separation this season, with the exception of newcomer Mansfield making a strong run toward the district championship. But this week’s games will help determine the other three playoff teams. The only team no longer in contention is Sam Houston.
Lamar hosts Martin at 7 p.m. Thursday. The game will be at Cravens Field. If Martin can limit Lamar standout QB Chance Fuller, it has a chance to gain a crucial victory in the standings. Martin features a more balanced offensive attack, with four running backs combining for nearly 500 total yards behind starting RB Juma Otoviano.
Bowie hosts Fort Worth Paschal at the same time, playing at Wilemon Field. The Volunteers should handle the Panthers, who have been the worst team in the league all season, for their own boost in the standings.
Arlington hosts Sam Houston at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Maverick Stadium. While Sam has played slightly better than Paschal this season, its best performances have come against other lower-rank teams like Paschal and North Crowley.
In 5A play, Seguin visits Granbury at the same time. The Cougars are battling to hang onto a third- or fourth-place seeding in District 9-5A.
Stephen English: email@example.com, @sbenglish74