by David Harris
After demolishing the competition in the Baylor Bear Meet in Waco, the cross country team’s state championship expectations have increased dramatically.
The Eagles are now the favorite to win the TAPPS state meet after beating Antonian Catholic and El Paso Cathedral. Antonian entered the season as the clear favorite after winning four straight state titles and narrowly defeating the Eagles during last years state meet. But with the win, the Eagles have now surpassed the Aztecs and should have success at the upcoming state meet.
The only other threat to the Eagles’ championship aspirations is El Paso Cathedral. St. Thomas has beaten Cathedral in the past, but this year the Fighting Irish have been surprisingly competitive, after only losing to the Eagles by one point in Waco.
Coach Nathan Labus expects to win the state title this year and nothing less.
“I believe that we are the best team this year,” Labus said. “We have competed against those two teams and we won, so in my mind, we are definitely better than they are.”
Seniors Harrison Grant, Mitchell Gonzales and Samuel Thurston also have their minds set on winning a championship.
“I believe that we are the best because of the amount of work we put in,” Gonzales said. “It has been a goal of mine for four years to win state.”
One of the reasons the Eagles have had such great success this season is the lack of devastating injuries.
“No one has had a serious injury this season,” senior Samuel Thurston said. “As long as one of our front runners does not get injured, we should have a great shot at the title.”
For the most part, injuries will not play a huge role in determining the outcome of the state meet due to the team’s tremendous depth.
“This one of the deepest and best overall teams I have ever coached at St. Thomas,” Labus said. “The team has eight seniors and a plethora of very good underclassmen runners who could easily replace one of the top seven runners and still have a good chance at winning the state meet.”
Winning the state meet would be a fitting way to cap off the high school career for senior Harrison Grant, who has led the team throughout the season.
“I think we are very capable of winning and I am excited for October 26,” Grant said.
El Paso and Antonian will be training very hard the next couple of weeks and running with a chip on their shoulder October 26. The Eagle runners will have to give it their all this upcoming month and train harder than ever to make a run at the state title.