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Burnet, Marble Falls cross country teams set numerous personal bests at McNeil Invitational

CAPTION: The Marble Falls High School boys cross country team finished fourth in the Class 4A boys division with all runners clocking new personal bests. Courtesy photo

University Interscholastic League cross country teams, including Burnet and Marble Falls high schools, competed at the Round Rock McNeil Invitational Sept. 23-24.

Burnet senior Hudson Bennett was fifth in the boys varsity gold division in 14 minutes and 36 seconds to clock a new personal best.

His teammate, sophomore Victor Aviles, was third overall in the Class 4A boys race in 15:31.20, just missing second place by two-tenths of a second.

The Mustangs finished fourth overall of out 28 teams in the Class 4A boys division. Eleven teams from Class 4A Region 3, of which the Mustangs compete in, were present, and Marble Falls had a team average time of 16:38.

Head coach Chris Schrader credited a pep talk by Marble Falls alumnus and Olympic silver medalist Leonel Manzano for the finish.

“I am sure his presence was inspirational for the team,” he said. “The boys varsity team stepped to the line ready to prove that the hard work has been worth it. The significance of this effort is that the team average was faster than any Mustang runner performed individually on this course in 2021.”

Marble Falls junior Nick Dahl finished fifth, clocking 15:42.7 to shatter his previous personal best by 66 seconds.

“Nick’s time borders on history as only Leo Manzano has run faster on the state course with his 15:28 at the 2003 state championship,” Schrader said.

Sophomore Tyler Hamblin finished in 15:46.30, a 73-second new personal best, for seventh place.

Sophomore Blake Cockrell completed the course in 16:47.95 and set a new personal best by 57 seconds for 28th place.

“Blake’s commitment to the team is showing in each race,” the coach said. “If Blake keeps this up, he will be a major factor in our quest to win the district and advance into the state meet.”

Sophomore Marco Almazan clocked 17:07.95 to finish 50th with a new personal best by 90 seconds.

“Marco is working hard to improve his position on the team, and we will be looking for him to be a significant contributor next week when we take on the 5A/6A teams at the Leo Manzano Invitational on Saturday,” Schrader said.

Sophomore Ezekiel Atkinson ran a very strong 17:49.44, Schrader said, 65 seconds faster than his previous best, for 80th place.

Other Mustangs include freshman Hunter Holder, who finished in 21:51.57 for 211th place and set a new personal best by 65 seconds.

“He continues to improve in leaps and bounds,” the coach said. “Hunter is investing in himself on a daily basis and has already reached the eight-mile distance on his long run.”

In the junior varsity race, freshman Malin Nelson placed 93rd  in 31:00.3 and dropped 1:24 off his previous personal best.

“He continues to take chunks off his time,” Schrader said.

The Burnet Lady Dawgs were 16th overall out of 29 teams in the girls varsity division paced by freshman Asah Roy’s 28th finish in 12:23.20 on the two-mile course. Junior Amelia Griffin was 83rd in 13:17.60, sophomore Kori Haile finished 84th in 13:19.60, and junior Cierra Blunt-Culpepper clocked 13:21.50 to finish 90th. Senior Autumn Stires finished in 14:00.30 for 142nd, sophomore Maya Calderon was 146th in 14:01.90, and freshman Caroline Valencia was 150th in 14:05.10. Other runners include sophomore Nicole Rorie, who clocked 14:43.60 for 180th and sophomore Brooke Bowman for 191st in 14:57.10

In the girls junior varsity division, Marble Falls freshman Tori Thompson won the two-mile race in 13:24.4. She was followed by sophomore Chloe Ellis, who was third in 13:40.3, and freshman Carmella Lozano was 27th in 15:49.5.

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Burnet senior runner Hudson Bennett is on his way to finishing fifth in the boys gold division race at the Round Rock McNeil Invitational. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Ludecke Photography

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