Tenaha, Center open cross country with meet at SFA

The boys and girls cross country teams from Tenaha and Center high schools ran at a very muddy SFA Invitational Meet on Sept. 2. Center Middle School also competed in what was its first-ever cross country meet.

The Center boy's varsity team finished in 5th place out of 19 teams. Sophomore Jacob Garcia placed the highest on the team, finishing the race in third with a time of 17:43. The JV boy's finished third out of 12 teams.

“I thought they competed really well and did really great,” boys coach Chase Rathke said. “It was good for us to get our feet wet and get the first one out of the way. I think with a young group of guys, we're just going to grow from here.”

The meet featured schools ranging from 2A to 6A. Rathke disagreed with the notion that the 5A's and 6A schools are the top-dog competitors.

“I don't like to put too much emphasis on 5A and 6A,” Rathke said. “I just like to run our race and do our thing. As long as we compete to the best of our ability, I'm happy with that.”

The Center varsity girls finished eighth out of 17 teams.

“It is the first meet and we do have a lot to work on,” girls coach Jaqueline Hamilton said. “This course was very wet and muddy. It definitely took a toll on them. However, they all did pretty well for the first meet.”

Tenaha and Woden were the only 2A schools competing. For Tenaha, the varsity boys finished in 17th and the varsity girls finished in 16th.

“This is our first race and we're just getting started,” cross county coach Lauri Sisk said. “We got a long way to go but I just wanted them to run against some of the best competition and see what out real run times are. We need to work on increasing our distance and our race pace as we're not where we want to be at.”

Center Middle School added cross country this summer to the school's sports, and the young Riders were able to run their first competitive meet. Seventh-grader Gracie Whisenant placed the highest of both teams, finishing in third.

“It turned out better than I anticipated,” middle school coach Gerardo Martinez said. “The kids only had one week of actual training and with that in mind, they actually exceeded expectations.”

Center and Tenaha will run a practice meet at Shelbyville High School on Sept. 6 alongside Shelbyville, Timpson and Joaquin.