CAPTION: Marble Falls junior Nick Dahl (2168) and sophomore Tyler Hamblin runs with the leaders of the Class 4A state race Nov. 4. Courtesy photo
Burnet High School senior runner Hudson Bennett earned the bronze medal of the Class 4A state cross country meet Nov. 4 thanks to finishing the 5K race in 22 minutes and 23.9 seconds, his best result at this meet. The Marble Falls Mustangs were 10th out of 16 squads in the team standings. Class 4A has 206 member schools.
“Hudson is one of the best Burnet competitors and one of the greats in Burnet athletics history,” head coach Roy Kiser said. “We’ve been privileged to be apart of it and watch it. I’ve been blessed to coach him and blessed to have been apart of the Hudson era.”
“The team clawed its way into the best finish in school history,” Marble Falls head coach Chris Schrader said. “The previous best placings were 13th and 12th. The youngest team in school history produced a solid result.”
The Mustangs were paced by junior Nick Dahl, who finished 26th in 23:05.7, and sophomore Tyler Hamblin, who was 29th in 23:10.4. Sophomores Blake Cockrell was 78th in 24:07.1, Ezekiel Atkinson was 97th in 24:28.9, and Marco Almazan was 121st in 24:58.8. Freshman Hunter Holden finished 149th in 27:35.7.
“The average age of our team was 15 years old,” Schrader said. “Two of the team (leaders) are veterans of the 2021 team, and I use the term loosely. The course was a little muddy and a slight rain greeted all competitors.”
Bennett’s teammate Victor Aviles, who is a sophomore, was 23rd in 23:02.
“When we started district I said, ‘Your times might be important to some people. When we’re running, it’s all about the next place up,'” Kiser said. “Our goal for Victor was around where he finished. I was super happy with how Victor ran. We had him pegged to finish around 20th.”
Bennett noted Mother Nature was a part of the race.
“It was raining like crazy and super muddy,” he said.
Burnet freshman Asah Roy didn’t compete in the girls two-mile race because of an injury.
“She’s a great competitor, and we knew she couldn’t give her best,” Kiser said. “We knew it would be best she didn’t run. We were playing it smart.”
Bennett competed in three cross country state meets in four years. He didn’t compete as a freshman because of an injury. Going into the 2022 state meet, the senior said he was battling an illness.
“A week and a half ago, I got sick,” he said. “It carried over to the state run. I couldn’t get my breath.”
Fort Worth Diamond Hill-Jarvis junior Angel Sanchez won the race in 15:47.50, while Gatesville senior Carlo Martinez was second in 16:00.30.
“It was a more tactical race,” Bennett said. “We went out really slowly and then picked it up. Maybe it was a strategy.”
Kiser said Bennett and Aviles have been tremendous teammates. The two train together and exchange information.
“It’s been a big deal, especially for Victor to see,” he said. “You have an example of what it takes to get there. It gives you a leg up. He’s a talented and smart kid and has had Hudson. Hudson has ran so many different meets that Victor didn’t always run with him. The days he did, it was a blessing for him to run with Hudson.”
As he looked at the ages of his runners, Schrader sees great possibilities and the opportunity to rewrite history in the future.
“We have arrived on the state landscape,” he said. “To win the state title will require a singleness of purpose that has never been seen in this community. We have the tools to win if we work like never before. It’s a 365-day commitment.”
Bennett said he’ll compete at the Nike Cross Regionals South meet Nov. 19 at The Woodlands with the aim of running at the national meet in December. He also has four more official college and university visits to take before committing and signing a National Letter of Intent to be a collegiate athlete. He already has visited Baylor University.
“I love the team,” he said. “The team was awesome. Everything there was amazing.”
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