Boys XC claim 5A state title, to race at Nike South


Parker Nolan

Junior Ryan Brands in the middle of the pack during the 5A state meet.

Joe Vastano, Staff Reporter

Crossing the finishing line for the last time in the 2016 UIL cross country season, seniors Grant Tiff and Nate Hartter, juniors Bradley Davis, Ryan Brands, and Ryan Spruell, sophomore Brett Pedersen, and freshman Brady Laboret took home the gold medals, earning the second boys state title in school history, the first in class 5A.

The boys have been training since the start of the season in late May, running every day of the week to achieve its one goal at the end of the season, to win state.

“It feels amazing to know we set such a high goal together, and to go out there and accomplish it as a team,” said Tiff.

Placing second behind Lovejoy was Donna North, their first time to the state meet, and behind them came Grapevine for third place. Lovejoy finished with a total of 59 points. Donna North finished 61 points behind with 120.

Senior Nate Hartter said this was an emotional race, knowing it was his last time to step across the line.

“I was thinking about the rest of the team [when crossing the finish line], both who were running and who weren’t, who have made me who I am as a runner and a person,” Hartter said. “They have all had a huge impact on shaping who I have become and I am extremely proud and thankful for all of them.”

At most cross country meets, there will be a whole group of passionate supporters holding signs, stopwatches, and screaming until they lose their voice, but at the state meet, their intensity was amplified even more. As the runners crossed the line, a whole pack of fans sprinted to try to be quick enough to see it happen and congratulate their runners.

For Lovejoy, it was Grant Tiff, whose supporters got to welcome first. He finished at 15th place with a time of 15:52. Behind Tiff was Pedersen at 16:00, earning him 20th. Third for the team was Laboret with a time of 16:03 at 21st overall. Brands was next at 16:09 for 25th overall, and then Davis right behind him at 16:13 earning 28th overall. All the boys recorded personal records with their times.

Girls runner Carson Hockersmith, who competed individually, also got her personal record time of 19:39.

As a freshman, Laboret already has one season and state championship under his belt and is looking forward to taking a bigger leadership role next season on the team.

“Winning the [state] meet created an overwhelming feeling of joy and pride and I felt that all of my hard work throughout the season payed off,” Laboret said. “During next year’s season, I am hoping that I will be able to fill the role of a team leader and be able to inspire future generations [on the team] just as well as the current team leaders have inspired me.”

Following the state championship, the Leopard runners will now focus on the national level, competing in the Nike South Invitational meet at The Woodlands this weekend along with some of the other top teams in the region.