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Lion cross-country fields its largest team ever in 2008

Girls and boys both shooting for trip to regional meet
With the uncertainty that comes when a team enters a new district, it’s nice for Lion cross-country coach Lonnie Redning to know he has strength in numbers.
Redning maintained 24 runners working with him throughout August and just added four new Lions on Wednesday. On paper, Redning said there could be as many as 36 runners in the mix – the most he’s ever had entering the first week of school.
“It’s good that we’re growing to give our best runners more teammates to push them,” Redning said.
“Hopefully we’ll really see some times drop.”
Looking to the lengthy roster, Stefany Cantu is the lone senior girl, while juniors include Alex Montemayor and Vanessa Diaz. Sophomore girls in the picture include Calleigh Morales, Carolyn Sanchez, Mayra Ortiz, Zoraida Chaheine and Ireri Hernandez. The girls’ side is loaded with freshmen including Anna Velazquez, Meghan Holy, Rachel Whitley, Chelsea Raburn, Kaitlin Wetz, Gaby Hernandez, Tori Selvera, Victoria Santos, Deisy Ortiz, Miranda Montemayor and Gabriela Rodriguez.
As for the boys, they’re an older group including seniors Beto Perez, Eduardo Ramirez, Ben Skroh, Victor Garcia, Timothy Mojica, Jay Radway and Joseph Hardaway. The juniors are Andy Dominguez, Sergio Ramirez, Luke Bibby, Santos Hernandez, Ross Hubacek, Jaime Torres, Chaz Chapman and Morgan Graham. Underclassmen include sophomores Kevin Montemayor and Austin Fry along with freshman Chaz Kozlovsky.
In 2007, the Ennis girls finished second at the district meet. The entire team advanced to regionals, while Amy Alcala and Emily Barnes advanced individually. The girls’ team finished in the top 10 at the regional meet.
The Ennis boys took fourth at district with Michael Warren and Morgan Graham advancing to regionals. Warren went on to place twenty-fifth at the regional meet.
“Last year’s results weren’t what we aimed for at the beginning of the season, but to pull out a top-10 finish at regionals was a big deal for us,” Redning said.
The coach said key losses include girls Mackenzie Graham, Alcala and Teresa Smith, along with Barnes who isn’t returning this year. He expects the loss of Warren to be tough to overcome considering Michael was a huge part of the boys’ team last year. While Graham returns, he’s also playing tennis and won’t be on the scene all the time.
“With the girls being so freshman-dominated this year, I’m really looking for some growth from our runners early on,” Redning said.
“On the guys’ side, we’ve got quite a few seniors with Graham back as a junior and Montemayor coming back as a sophomore. You tend to have better performances from the guys as they get older, so it’s good that we have a number of upperclassmen.”
Redning discussed the fact that most of the elite cross-country teams run in groups because one great time won’t carry a team. He expects Selvera to be out in front for the girls and hopes to get a “clump” of the other four varsity girls to run somewhere in the 13- to 14-minute range. Though just a freshman, Selvera was dominant at the junior high level.
“As far as her time, Tori will be a little behind where Amy was last year, but she’ll still do well,” Redning said.
“I’m wondering if she’ll take a leadership role as a freshman. Tori plays volleyball, but then she’s out here training afterwards every day when everyone else has gone home.”
Redning said Morales is doing a good job of stepping up and leading the girls right now. He’s also very pleased with the lead-by-example efforts of freshman Holy.
Among all the freshmen beyond Selvera, Redning looks for Holy, Santos and Raburn to make the biggest impact. Montemayor is new to the team as a junior, yet the coach is very pleased with how she’s running right now.
“Calleigh’s goal is to break into the [13- to 14-minute range] and it looks like she’s done what she needed to over the summer,” the coach said.
Regarding the boys, Redning said Skroh has matured quite a bit after joining the army and is taking an active role as a senior leader.
“Ben looks like he’s made some strides in terms of his development as a runner and I also look for Kevin to have a strong season,” Redning said.
“He has great potential to step up as a sophomore like Morgan did last year. Austin is a good lead-by-example guy who’s still figuring things out as a runner. We’ve got a lot of soccer guys back and a couple of new ones.”
Redning is trying to get a better grasp of the 16-4A landscape, and so right off the bat Ennis will compete in the Hewitt-Midway Invitational on Sept. 5 in Waco.
“We’ll see what all the Waco schools have,” he said.
The following week will bring the UTA MAVS Challenge in Arlington.
“That’s the regional course and the regional teams will be there,” the coach said.
“It will let us see how we stack up against the top competition early on.”
Sept. 19 will bring a trip to the Cleburne Invitational.
“That will be the district course and it’s another opportunity to see where we stand,” Redning said.
Sept. 27 involves the short trip to Jaycee Park for the Lions Den Invitational.
“Our meet has been huge in recent years and we’ve fared very well the last couple of times,” the coach said.
“There will be some very good teams coming.”
In the first week of October, the Lions will compete in Fairfield’s Eagle Invitational for the first time in six years.
“The kids requested it and it’s a fun meet where the whole course is in the woods,” Redning said.
“They can’t see or hear me, so it’s all on them.”
The Run the Farm Invitational in Mesquite will be the final tune-up before the district meet at the end of October.
Redning said the Ennis girls have a harder road to regionals. Midlothian won district last year and lost just one varsity girl with six returning. Midway has a veteran team with everybody back and the coach expects them to be tough.
“It looks like us and Waco University for that third spot right now,” the coach said.
“On the guys’ side, they may have it a little easier. Midlothian is still a top-five team in the state, but did lose some personnel. Though Midway also has a good team, I think second place is possible and we should be very capable of a third-place finish.”
If Redning can send a runner or entire team to regionals, it will mark the ninth-straight season he’s done so and that’s definitely a goal. He said most of the runners have individual goals, as far as lowering their times. Selvera’s goal is to at least place in the top 10 at regionals.
“We could be great; there’s just a lot of unknowns early on with so many freshmen,” Redning said.

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Posted by on Aug 28 2008. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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