Pack, Lady Pack qualify for regional cross country meet; Lufkin’s Adan Hernandez earns spot in state race

Zaria Grace, Aalyra Agent and Hannah Koonce, Lufkin High School Panther Growls staff members

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Lufkin High School had great success at the District 16-5A Cross Country Championship varsity and JV races on Oct. 17 in Lufkin. (Contributed photo)

Lufkin’s cross country teams’ hard work paid off with regional tournament berths for both the boys and girls, along with an individual state championship qualifier.

The Panthers boys squad won the District 16-5A championship on Lufkin High School’s new cross country course on Oct. 17, while the Lady Panthers placed third as a team to qualify for the regional meet.

Junior Adan Hernandez, who qualified for the state meet after winning district and placing 11th individually at regionals, said the team had prepared both physically and mentally for the season.

“During the summer, we weren’t really getting ready to race; we were just trying to get our strength,” Hernandez said. “Usually the first week of school is when we have our first race, so we begin to start getting in our race form and race mentality. Ever since school started, I’ve gotten faster in races, and its helped me altogether.”

The Panthers and Lady Panthers set several goals before its 2019 season.

“One of our goals is to make nothing less than going to state,” junior Chloe Flack said. “Then, once we get to state, hopefully make top five.”

Flack, whose fifth-place finish at district helped the girls advance to the regional meet, said she wakes up every morning at 5 or 6 a.m. to go running. She said she likes to set goals for herself, like how many miles she runs and pushing to go farther the following day. She said she tries to work on her form and improve her stamina.

Lufkin High School’s varsity boys cross country team earned a District 16-5A title on Oct. 17. (Contributed photo)

At the district meet, Hernandez led all boys with a time of 16 minutes, 33.7 seconds. Freshman Brandon Jaime was third with a time of 17:06.2, followed by freshman Kristopher Murphy (sixth with 17:14.8), sophomore Isaiah Rojo (11th with 17:52.2), senior Kalynn Turner (12th with 17:53.7), junior Raul Alvarez (13th with 18:01.7) and senior Christian Gonzalez (16th with 18:12.1).

For the girls, Flack was fifth overall with a time of 20:48.4, followed by freshman Jacqueline Silva (ninth with 21:00.9), freshman Paula Bautista (13th with 21:16.8), freshman Kylie Ridings (22nd with 22:04.2), freshman Jacki Roldan (23rd with 22:18.6), sophomore Perla Alday (28th with 23:01.3) and senior Keila Martinez (35th with 24:35.6).

The Pack returned to regionals after reaching the state meet in 2018, and the Lady Pack was able to join them in 2019.

“It’s very exciting,” Flack said. “Even the coach (Hunter Russell) said that it was a great accomplishment because this is the first time that the girls are going to regionals within the last five or six years.”

Lufkin’s junior varsity teams both won their races at the district meet. Esperanza Cuevas (1st), Ariyanna Mireles (2nd), Marlene Reyes (5th), Yaireth Escobedo (11th), Briana Cruz (16th) and Adisen Massie (45th) led the Lady Pack JV, while Lufkin’s Marcos Alday (1st), Oswaldo Leos Carillo (2nd), Edwin Cebrian (3rd), Alan Hernandez (4th), Emanuel Orta (5th), Christian Vargas (6th) and Isaias Chacon (7th) took the top seven places in the boys JV race.

Adan Hernandez will represent Lufkin in the state cross country championships Nov. 9 in Round Rock.