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Darkenwald finishes season as top Panther runner

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Darkenwald finishes season as top Panther runner

Photo by: Elyn Zamudio

Photo by: Elyn Zamudio

Photo by: Elyn Zamudio

George Juarez, Editor-in-Chief

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Sophomore Itzela Darkenwald advanced to the regional meet in cross country as Caney Creek’s top runner for the season after placing seventh at the district meet.

The regional meet was held yesterday and results were not available by press time.

“I felt a sense of joy take over my whole body,” Darkenwald said. “I knew all of those hard days at practice and the long hours of dedication put into Cross Country had finally payed off and I had met my goal.”

Darkenwald came in eleventh place last year in the district meet, one place away from qualifying to regionals.

“Now that I made it, I no longer feel mad about that eleventh place,” she said. “I saw it as a reason for myself to push harder everyday in practice so I’d never be in that situation again.”

The cross country team attended the Spring Preview, Klein Oak Invitational, Huntsville meet, Oak Ridge meet, Liberty meet, Huffman meet and competed Thursday, Oct. 11 at the UIL District meet.

In the Spring Preview, both Darkenwald and sophomore Montserrat Ramos made it to top 10 and medaled at the varsity level. Freshman Jazmin Salazar and junior Yamileth Maldonado were medalists in the junior varsity level.

“Before the race, when (the team is) nervous, we huddle up in a circle and I say a prayer for them,” Darkenwald said. “If they’re still nervous, I just remind them that the faster you run, the faster you get done.”

In the Liberty Meet, the varsity girls were the first-place team out of 10 schools. Darkenwald (1), Montserrat (4) and junior Karla Ramos (7) all medaled. In addition, senior Katherine Lopez (14) and Salazar (23) had strong finishes. Varsity boys were placed seventh out of 13 teams. Sophomore Luis Morales (1) finished with a time of 18:16 and sophomore Cody Hemphill-Toddy finished with a time of 18:18.

“Se siente increíble porqué cada carrera voy bajando mi tiempo para ganar buen lugar en las carreras,” Morales said. “ (Translation: It feels incredible because every race my time goes down and I place better at every race.)

In the Huffman Meet, the varsity girls placed third overall with Darkenwald (3), Karla (11) and Montserrat (12) leading the Panthers. The top finisher for the varsity boys was Hemphill-Toddy (28), who competed against 152 runners.

“We’re actually doing way better than last year,” Montserrat Ramos said. “We’ve been trying really hard, training, practicing, coming every morning. (There is) no break for us.”

The team works out everyday from Monday through Friday after school. This is head coach Anna Carroll’s first year directing the cross country team. She said the team goes by a weekly schedule to help set their pace.

“The week normally begins with longer distances, and then slowly I cut back the distance as we approach upcoming meets,” Carroll said. “We trade distance for faster pace workouts the closer we get to district.”

The overall purpose of the cross country program is to maximize each runner’s potential, according to Carroll.

“In order to be a great runner, you have to be able to fight through that little voice that tells you that you cannot go farther or harder,” Carroll said. “If you have a strong and determined mindset, then your legs will have no option than to do what they are told to do.”

If Darkenwald advanced out of regionals, the state meet will be Saturday, Nov. 3 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

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Darkenwald finishes season as top Panther runner