The Calhoun cross country teams made it one of their biggest goals this season to go undefeated in their home meets, whether they be at New Echota or the Resaca Battlefield. They have now completed the first step in achieving that goal.
The Jackets and Lady Jackets swept a home meet on Thursday at New Echota finishing first in the team standings in both the boys and girls races against Sonoraville, Murray County and Sprayberry. The Calhoun boys placed four runners in the top 10 and had a team score of 34 to take first over Sonoraville (47), Murray County (57) and Sprayberry (70). The Lady Jackets had all five of their scoring runners finish in the top 10 to give them a team point total of 24 for a first-place victory over Murray County (61), Sprayberry (64) and Sonoraville (83).
Calhoun coach Justin Lindsey, who is in his second year at the helm, said he was pleased with what he saw from both teams in their first home meet of the season after four on the road to open the schedule.
“I was very impressed with the overall effort,” said Lindsey. “We had a bit of an unexpected break early this week with school being canceled due the weather so that meant no practice after we ran last Saturday. But we knocked some of the rust off today. We’re still improving and still have a ways to go, but the ultimate goal is to win and that’s what we did today.
“One of the first goals we set before the season started was to go undefeated in every home meet. That goal can’t be completed without winning here so I’m proud that we were able to make that happen today.”
The boys race was first on Thursday, and two Murray County runners, Jesse Martinez and Bryan Martinez, finished first (17:37) and second (18:19), respectively. But Calhoun’s runners stayed close together in the standings to earn the team win. Leading the way for the Jackets was Felipe Barrios who took third individually with a time of 18:56. Jonathan Santana followed in fifth with a 19:27, Brody Blalock was just behind in sixth with a 19:29 and Julio Lopez had the third top-10 finish for Calhoun taking eighth with a 19:45. Daniel Isep completed the team score with a 12th-place finish and time of 20:26 just in front of teammate Mario Marroquin in 13th (20:30).
In the girls race, Calhoun’s Mari Morales set a fast pace, leading for almost the entire course before crossing the finish line first with a time of 23:43. Her teammate Adamariz Perez was close behind, finishing third with a 24:35. Murray County’s Anna Trejo squeezed in between the two Lady Jackets for a second-place finish at 24:07. The other three scoring finishers for Calhoun were: Emily Driscoll in sixth (24:48), Teresa Nguyen in eighth (25:34) and Sandra Ramirez in ninth (26:46). Kimy Cabrera and McCamy Ellis also ran well for the Lady Jackets.
“Our focus in these early-season meets are to get a measuring stick to build on for these runners,” said Lindsey. “The focus is always gearing up for Region and State so we schedule hard courses and good competition to see where we’re at and what we need to work on. We’ve seen a tremendous work ethic even before the season started in the summer with our team, and how hard they continue to work will determine how far we can go. We see the talent and potential of this team. It’s going to come down to how hard we work to try to reach that though.
Sonoraville’s boys had four runners place in the top 10 to push themselves to a second-place team finish. Nahum Trenti was the top finisher for the Phoenix in fourth place with a 19:05. John Graves placed seventh (19:37), Ben Stewart was ninth (19:45), Maurilio Segura took 10th (19:49) and Spencer Ford finished 17th (21:07) to round out the scoring for the team.
The Lady Phoenix were led by two strong finishes in the top 10. Riley Triplett had the best day for the Sonoraville girls, earning a fifth-place finish with a time of 24:47, and teammate Maggie Hamilton took 10th with a 27:18.
Sonoraville coach Butch Burch said he is happy with where his team is currently, as this is only their second meet of the season, but there is constant need for improvement.
“I’m excited about our team…this is the biggest group we’ve ever had,” said Burch. “You can always improve. There is always something in a race that you can look at and say that you need to work on. Riley and Maggie had good performances on the girls’ side. We’re still looking for others to step up and help us with the team score for girls. And the boys had several run well today.
“I’m excited about things. For a lot of our runners, this is their first time competing in cross country. They’ll get more experience as we move along. But I’m encouraged on the day. We realize there is work to do so we’ll hit the grind again tomorrow and continue to work hard.”
Sonoraville was back in action on Saturday, competing in the Run at the Rock at Woodland High. They will next compete in the Unity Run in Calhoun on Sept. 26. Calhoun will have a week off between meets before once again being at New Echota on Thursday to host Gordon Central, Pepperell and Southeast Whitfield.