Cross country places third at state meet after sweep at district


by Joe Fisher
Eagle Editorial Board

The cross country season ended this past weekend with the Eagles placing third at the state meet in Waco.

The team had high hopes of winning its first state title since 2004, especially after dominating its district meet.

The squad had its seven best runners compete at state. They ran hard, but it was not enough to defeat the defending state champs, Antonian.

The meet was a three-mile race with 16 teams competing and over 100 runners total.

The top three runners for the Eagles were senior Troy Harrington, who competed in his last cross country race at STH, finishing 13th overall with a time of 17:08; sophomore Harrison Grant finishing 20th overall with a time of 17:16; and junior Jo Allen Castilleja finishing 22nd with a time of 17:17.

The Eagles had a great season overall, winning district for the eighth consecutive year and placing in the top three at state for the third consecutive year.

“It was really competitive,” Harrington said. “We had some good hopes for state, and I really enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun.”

There is a lot to take from this season that coach Nathan Labus will use for next year.

“I think coach [Vance] Reyes, one of our assistant coaches, focused more on team commitment and team bonding and brought the cross country team together and helped us run more as a team,” Labus said.

In district, the varsity, junior varsity and freshman squads all won their races as a team.

The varsity ran a three-mile race and were once again led by Castilleja, who finshed first overall with a time of 17:41. He was followed by junior Nicholas Matthews, who finished third overall with a time of 18:03, and the third top runner was Harrington, who finished fifth overall with a time of 18:08.

The junior varsity dominated its three-mile race with the first nine runners all coming from St. Thomas.

The top three runners for JV were junior Peter Hawkins, placing first overall with a time of 19:08, senior Will Bennett, placing second overall with a time of 19:37, and junior Mitchell Blowey, finishing third overall with a time of 19:38.

The freshman squad finished the season strong with a dominating performance at the district meet.

The top three runners for the freshmen in the two-mile race were Jason Nania finishing first overall with a time of 12:21, followed by Evan Pearlman Morales, finishing second overall with a time of 12:29, and Jonathan Rzasnicki, finishing third overall with a time of 12:52.

Cross country has a bright future for next year with losing only two seniors from this year’s varsity.

Castilleja, Matthews, and junior Adrian Alba will be the core of the varsity team next year and have high expectations of winning a state title.

“[For next season] I look to keep the program going,” Labus said. “We created a foundation at state, and we need to keep building on top of that to get better and better.”