LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - East Texas is known for it’s football but on Monday the region put up a dominating performance in the UIL Cross Country Regional races.
The biggest win was Lufkin. The Panthers last went to state in 1995 , This will be their second trip after the team finished 4th in Dallas.
“I knew it had been a long time,” first-year head coach and Lufkin alum Hunter Russell said. “Our last coach, Rusty Stover was on that team. I knew he had left me a good team, I just didn’t know how good until today.”
The Panthers at this point are just having fun, already having reached their goal.
" State was our goal on Day 1," Russell said. “Just being there can be overwhelming. Today, every runner ran a personal best. They had the race of their life and will need to do that again to get to the podium. At this point it is just a fun experience for us but I do think we have the talent to get a top five finish.”
At the 4A level, the region was introduced to Hudson Freshman Kayleigh Wagnon. The Freshman came in first and helped the Lady Hornets finish Third.
“She did not even run in 8th grade cross country due to an injury but with her 7th grade times we knew she would do good for us,” coach Amy Stewart said. " She is one of the best and she comes in with the best attitude."
For the Hudson Boys, not making it to state last year was a shock so getting back is redemption.
“It was hard last year,” coach Josh Stewart said. “We had been for like 14 straight years. Extremely proud of both teams getting back. The girls put in work all summer and the boys have gotten better each and every week since school got back.”
In 3A, Central’s boys came in second to make a return trip to state. In the 2A division, the girls field is being represented by Grapeland in 2nd at regionals and Woden in 3rd. The boys in 2A saw Woden take home first and Martinsville qualify in 4th with Angel Torres getting first place.
To have representation in almost every level speaks volumes to the grow the of the sport.
“The kids in East Texas are just so competitive,” Martinsville coach Danny Enloe said." They are in more than one sport and cross country coexists with the other sports and when you get down to it they feed off of each other. It is amazing to see all these kids out here doing good in two different sports.
The state race will be on November 3 in Round Rock.