They may have been the last of 22 high school boys cross country teams selected to compete in the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore., last weekend, but the Cedar Park Timberwolves ran as though they were a top 10 team.
Behind lead runner Parker Stinson, Jay and Bobby McIllece, Cameron Shoppach, Al Alomari, Austin Geerts and Herbert Gutierrez ran the national championship 5K race over a cold, foggy Portland Meadows course in 1:21:21.90 and 11th place.
Stinson, a senior who will be attending the legendary cross country powerhouse University of Oregon next year, finished 16th in the national field of nearly 200 runners with a time of 15:36.
"I kind of went out really easy with a group until the first mile, and then they sped up. I still felt pretty good. I may have locked up a bit from the cold," Stinson said.
"I'm a bit disappointed with my 16th place. I mean I know I can run with these guys. But I'm happy with the effort, and I'm happy with our 11th place. We did better than expected," said Stinson,
"It was cold and miserable, but Parker stuck with the front runners as long as he could," said Cedar Park coach Timo Sheard. "I know he loves track more. I think he was more about the team today, then individual. Cross country's a team sport. Here we come in at large, and we finished just short of the top 10. That's a sign that we're one of the top teams in the nation," said Sheard.
"Boerne took first, The Woodlands third, and we were 11th. Beating some of the regional champions speaks highly of Texas running, and we're proud of that."
Craig Lutz of Flower Mound Marcus High School grabbed the overall win. In an extremely tight race, Lutz outkicked Elias Gedyon of Loyola High School of Los Angeles, 15:09.2 to 15:09.5.
"I had a really good start, and was up in the lead in the first 200 meters, and then dropped back in the pack," said Lutz, who finished third in the Statesman Capitol 10,000 last spring.
"I put in a surge at around 1,200 to separate people and to get everyone going quicker. For the last 3,000, individuals were picking it up and surging. It turned into a kicker's race in the last 1,000, and I typically get a little hammered in the kick. But something came over me, and I kicked it. Never done that before."
Lutz, the Texas Class 5A state cross country champ, will run the Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego on December 12. However, Stinson, who also qualified at the Foot Locker Cross-Country Championships South Regionals in Charlotte, N.C., decided to bow out.
"This is my final cross country race of the season," he said. "I'm pretty tired, emotionally and physically, so I'm going to skip the Foot Locker National Championships next weekend, and rest up for spring track. I'll be concentrating on the mile and two miles this spring, and I'd like to break 4:05 and 8:40."
Note: Derick Williamson won the Decker Challenge Half Marathon on Sunday. Gilbert Tuhabonye was second. Michael Budde won the top master's spot. Scott Birk was second. In the women's race, Kelly Williamson held off Jennifer Harney to win. In the master's division, Cindy Salazar scored a convincing win over Julee Pollock.
Wednesday : Ranger Stampede 5K, 5 p.m., Congress Avenue. Call (512) 410-1078.
Saturday : Jingle Bell 5K, 9 a.m., Landa Park, New Braunfels. See www.nbrunclub.com .
Zilker Tree Holiday 2.6-mile run, 6:30 p.m., Zilker Park. See www.runtex.com.
Sunday : Women's Holiday Half Marathon, 10K & 5K, 7 a.m., Tanger Outlet Mall, San Marcos. See www.trekwomenstriathlonseries.com.
Esmeralda's 5K and 10K Run, 9:30 a.m., Austin Tennis Academy, 6800 Spanish Oaks Club Blvd. See www.esmeraldasrun.org.