Boys cross country takes District, advances to Regional

At the Regional meet Nov. 3 at Arlington, the varsity boys cross country team took ninth place overall.

“We had a chance to get fifth, but one of the boys fell,” coach Bert Bonnecarrere said. “That added 60 points onto our score which took us to ninth. We did pretty well ending up ninth place which is two places higher than last year. Even though we weren’t quite good enough to continue to the State meet, we will try again next year.”

Although many of the varsity runners ran their best times of the year at Regional, the team still wasn’t able to make it to State. The fastest runner was senior Ben Jepson who ran 16:02 for five meters.

“[Running at Regional] was nerve wracking,” senior Reese Marrero said. “There was a lot of pressure and hope of continuing onto State. You can’t put a price on the experience even if there was an unwanted outcome.”

Westlake cross country runs in Region 2, the fastest of all the Regions. Some of the best running times of the country come from Region 2, so Westlake faced a very tough challenge.

“I ran a personal best which was unexpected,” Reese said. “I enjoyed competing against so many tough competitors. I could have stayed in the front longer, but I fell back at the beginning and had to make up a lot of ground towards the end. But we accomplished the goals of winning the District title and getting to Regional. Since we did that I would say the season was very successful.”

“One team in the Region, Woodlawn, has won 27 District titles in a row and has won 23 State titles,” Bonnecarrere said. “They’re hard to beat because they have 143 boys in their program. They just reload every year; it’s a hard challenge.”

At the District meet on Oct. 19, the varsity boys took first place. The junior varsity finished second by one point behind Anderson and the freshmen took first.

“Overall, I think we have done really well this year,” Bonnecarrere said. “We won the District Championship. This is a team that went from being the worst in the District two or three years ago to winning two back-to-back District titles. Out of the seven meets we have participated in, we’ve gotten first four times, second twice.”

The team has gotten better throughout the year, but the team’s times aren’t what Bonnecarrere had hoped for. In the big meet in Houston, they finished right in the middle of the pack, which is what Bonnecarrere expected.

“Overall, I think it was a positive season,” senior Bonner Garrison said. “I would have liked to have gone to State but I think we ran well and accomplished our goals. It has been a solid season, and I have grown as an athlete and as a runner and we grew as a team through challenges.”

An assistant coach would also have helped the team greatly this year because of the record number of freshmen and inexperienced runners who joined the team.

“There are many 5A programs our size in the state of Texas and a lot of 4A programs our size too,” Bonnecarrere said. “Between Coach [Chris] Carter and me, we have close to 100 kids and there are just two of us. I think an assistant coach would have been beneficial to us this year. The older kids understand this is the way the grass grows and here’s how the cow eats it. With the younger kids it’s all new to them – it’s a learning process for all of us.”

Currently the team will take anyone who wants to join. Due to the size of the team, though, if no assistant coach is added, runners may have to be cut in the future, according to Bonnecarrere.

“I think this year we could have done better if we were smaller, to be honest,” Bonnecarrere said. “Simply because there is only so much of me to go around and when you have 50 kids out there running, it’s really hard to properly train that many people by yourself.”

The team has to cope with challenges like sickness and injury all the time. The team just has to keep running and move the next person up.

“We carry 14 guys on varsity and the next guy in line knows they have to be ready. Somebody goes down, they know they have to go up, it’s just that simple,” Bonnecarrere said.

When the seniors graduate this year, the team will lose the runners three, four, five and six.

“We have some pretty good guys that ran at District who can step up. So after another summer, we will be right back up there,” Bonnecarrere said. “The team gets better each year, and the team the next year will be even better than this year.”

Many of the runners participate in other events in their downtime to keep up their running skills.

“Some of the kids run 5k’s and stuff like that in Austin. Some of them will run in the down season in events like the Turkey Trot at Thanksgiving or Christmas runs,” Bonnecarrere said. “But generally in the off season, we are trying to get ready for track because the same guys will come back and run on the track team.”