The cross country course at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock has become a pretty familiar site for Guyer’s Devin Norton.
For Norton, personal bests and that course have been tied together for years, and the Guyer senior turned in her best day at the course Saturday in the Class 4A Region I meet.
Norton ran a 17:49.44, eclipsing her previous personal best by 10 seconds, to claim her first regional championship after recently winning the first district title of her decorated career.
Norton qualified for Saturday’s state meet in Round Rock. She’ll make her fourth and final trip to the state meet while joined by teammates Brianne Van Voorhis, who finished ninth with a personal-best 18:25.74, and Colby Kuehler, who finished sixth in the boys race with a 15:45.23.
The top three teams and top 10 individual runners advanced to the state meet at Old Settlers Park.
Familiarity with the course might have made the difference for Norton, who her head coach said ran the perfect race to come out on top.
“The way the course is designed, they run about 200 meters and then climb about a 70-meter hill, then go about a quarter-mile downhill so you all feel good,” Guyer coach Jonathan Ponsonby said. “Going up that first hill will slit your jugular.”
Norton always has the same plan when running the course. She tries to stay within the range of the top 15 to 30 runners for the first mile, then pick off her competitors one by one.
“Today she was in 16th at almost the mile mark and then at the two-mile mark she was in first and she didn’t look back,” Ponsonby said. “Only Devin could’ve beaten Devin today if she’d psyched herself out or something. She was perfect today.”
Ponsonby also praised Van Voorhis for improving her time by two minutes since last season and Kuehler for making a return trip to the state meet after the entire boys team qualified a year ago.
“It’s been real nice coming to work each day,” Ponsonby said. “When you have good athletes, it makes you look good as a coach and makes it look like you know what you’re doing.”
Denton senior Jordan Muniz finished the race in 81st at 20:48. On the boys side, Denton freshman Alex Goff was 30th with a time of 16:26.81, while senior Brandon McManus came in 70th at 17:02.92.
Sanger boys advance to state
The Sanger boys team will be advancing for yet another run at a state title.
The Indians finished second with a score of 84 in the Class 3A Region II meet hosted by Texas-Arlington at Lynn Creek Park. Sanger finished fifth at last year’s state meet after finishing second in back-to-back years.
Decatur won with a low score of 70.
Sanger senior Jacob Perry finished third overall with a time of 16:35.92, while sophomore Josh Rainey crossed the finish line in 11th at 17:18.24. Argyle finished in 16th place.
Sanger’s girls team finished in fourth with a score of 95, while Argyle finished fifth with a total of 108.
Sanger junior Ashley Martinez completed the race in fifth place at 11:55.89. Freshman Audrey Springer finished in sixth at 11:56.09.
Argyle freshman Laina Sorensen advanced to this weekend’s state meet with a 10th-place finish. Sorenson crossed the finish line at 12:05.35.
In the Class 2A Region II meet, Pilot Point freshman Diana Juarez was one spot away from advancing to the state meet. Juarez completed the course in Arlington in 11th place with a time of 12:34.88.
Ryan’s Soltero finishes 23rd
Despite an early stumble, Ryan freshman Kate Soltero finished 23rd in the Class 5A Region I meet at Mae Simmons Park.
Soltero fell on the first hill but was able to recover and complete the course in 18:58.55, the second-fastest time posted by a freshman.
“I think getting up and still finishing where she finished is something you’d see in an older upperclassman,” Ryan coach Jayme Kiraly said.
The last time a Ryan girl reached the regional meet was in 2008. Kiraly said she enjoyed seeing Soltero’s strong finish.
“It’s incredibly exciting,” Kiraly said. “We got in the car, and the first thing that the kids did was start setting goals for next season to try to get the whole team up there.”
Staff writer Ben Baby contributed to this report.
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.