The Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival in Fayetteville, Ark., last weekend featured more than 650 runners from several different states in the varsity boys El Caliente division.
A total of 82 teams were placed in the top high school division when all was said and done and the Dragons boys finished second overall as a team.
Perhaps the biggest coup of all for Carroll, however, was that junior Reed Brown (15:06.34) brought home an individual meet championship to his school and to the Lone Star State, finishing with the 10th fastest time overall in in the history of the Invitational.
“It was good to see a Dragon as the first one to cross the finish line, [it] was a huge accomplishment,” coach Justin Leonard said. “It’s a big meet and big environment. It’s a big kudos for him.”
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Leonard said that he was very pleased with his teams’ effort at the Chile Pepper Invitational and said it was a good race for his team for several reasons.
“We were excited to got to the Chile Pepper,” Leonard said. “We hadn’t been there in three years, and it is always a good time for us. This year, there were about four to five thousand spectators. It was a really good environment, it’s a big college meet, so there is just a different feel there.
“It’s good to get our kids into a meet like that. The girls ran a really good race and I felt like they really stepped up. Closing in on championship season, you want to see them progress, and I thought we showed that. The boys were the same way, and Reed Brown had a phenomenal performance.”
The Dragons boys had five runners under 16 minutes at the meet, which Leonard said is always the goal.
The girls won the meet as a team with three of the top 10 runners.
Allison Esparza finished fourth with a time of 18:13.68, while Gillian Mortimer (18:23.34) finished sixth and Antigone Archer (18:38.49) was ninth overall.
Carroll will compete at a meet in Fresno, California this coming week, and Leonard said it will be another great opportunity for his team.
“It’s the California state meet course,” Leonard said. “And the objective is kind of the same as the Chile Pepper meet, which is to go out there and face different competition, and see where we stack up. It’s a different environment to give the kids the opportunity to see some different folks.”