A tough time at the start made for a longer than planned race for Stephenville at the Class 4A Region I cross country championships in Lubbock on Saturday.
Two Honeybees, top-runner Emilie Woerner and McKenzi Parham, each fell on the tough course, which featured a bottleneck squeeze immediately following the starting line, a large hill and a trench.
Woerner, who finished 36th with a time of 12:44, actually fell twice – first while trying to manage the squeeze from the far left side at the 50-70-meter wide starting line into an area where the course is only approximately five feet wide just moments into the race.
“We started on the far left side where we had to cut around a building just to stay on course and Emilie fell,” said first-year Stephenville head coach Carrie Damron. “And where the trench is, it gets real muddy, and if you're not one of the first ones there, you won't get to go over the board and it's a challenge to get across. She fell again there and was covered in mud. She had to sprint her hardest the rest of the way just to keep up.”
Woerner's time was more than 20 seconds off her district time, but Damron said the variances in courses easily made the difference.
“You can run a 12:40 at Lubbock and that's like a 12:20 just about everywhere else,” she said. “Where you go over the hill, it's so narrow that if you're congested you don't have much choice but to slow down and walk.”
Behind Woerner for the Bees, which finished 22nd of 24 teams at the event after claiming third at the recently held District 8-4A meet, was Caitlin Endly, who crossed the finish line 50 spots further back in 86th with a time of 13:36.
“Caitlin was the only one on our team that really felt she ran pretty well,” Damron said. “That time is right about where she has been.”
Parham suffered her fall somewhere near the big hill, says Damron, and then finished 116th in 14 minutes, a whole minute slower than her district time.
Kim Garza and Sydney Sult also ran for the Bees, placing 145th in 14:42 and 152nd in 15:01, respectively.
“We wanted to do better at regionals,” Damron admitted, “but anytime you're still running cross country in November you've had a successful season, and we certainly have. We lose Chelsea and Kim, our only seniors, but we bring everyone else back so we hope to pick up where we left off, work hard and do even better next year.”