The El Campo Ladybird cross country team is looking for a spot at state when they run at the regional meet Monday in Corpus Christi.
Since the district meet, the cross country team has been working nearly every day before the sun rises, to prepare for their two-mile run at regionals.
“The girls have worked so hard,” El Campo coach Robert Nastoupil said. “We started in May and worked all summer. We went to 5ks, they worked hard to get here, I’m proud of them. I think they’re proud of themselves. They know how hard they’ve worked. When everyone else was enjoying their summer they were out here running and now they’re realizing it is paying off, it’s been a really good season.”
The Corpus Christi course, like the district meet at Brookshire Royal, will be mainly flat.
“It’s pretty flat, which of course most of them have already run. It’s a smooth and fast course, our times will be really good I think,” Nastoupil said.
The biggest difference will be the massive number of competitors. Instead of being able to maintain a steady pace and out last runners, at the start of the race the Ladybirds will need to sprint before the running path narrows to give them a chance at advancing. After the course’s first turn, the path narrows to around five-10 wide, making passing near impossible.
“At the beginning of the race you have to run,” junior Brianna Perez said. “Once you get to the first turn and you’re at the back it’s very hard to push yourself through,”
As part of their normal practice schedule the cross country team once a week works on their sprinting, which could come in handy to open the race.
Since Nastoupil has taken over the cross country team, the Ladybirds had finished first, second or third, making regionals every year. However, El Campo has yet to send a team or a runner to state.
While the Ladybirds took bronze at district, they feel like they have room to grow and drop time at regionals.
“I think (we can improve),” Perez said. “In our last run (Thursday), everyone was pushing themselves. I feel like if we have that same mentality (Monday), our times will decrease.”
The Ladybirds last year finished last in district, but with half of the team making a second trip they know what to expect and should have a higher finish.
“The first time you get to the big show it’s scary, and a lot of them were young on top of it being their first time,” Nastoupil said “Now being a little older and half of them have been there, I think it’s going to be a big difference. Just listening to (the older ones) talk to the younger ones, it’s like they’ve been there forever.”
The Louise Hornets boys cross country team will also compete Monday in Corpus Christi. As a sophomore last year, Javier Olvera advanced to state with a time of 16:28.44. The Hornets team finished in 14th place out of 21 teams.
“This year we have more commitment and more people wanting to run,” Olvera said. “Last year the (team) only got together one time. Now our team is actually practicing. (With) all the practicing we’ve been putting in (we’ll be more competitive).”