Athens Review, Athens, Texas

November 9, 2012


Eustace cross country runners prepare to take ultimate step

Jayson Larson
The Athens Review

EUSTACE — When you talk to people associated with the Eustace cross country team, there’s an air of confidence you can’t miss.

It’s not a cocky vibe that comes off, but one of self-assurance.

So it’s not surprising to hear head coach Josh Sypert say his runners are loose and relaxed as they prepare to compete in Saturday’s Class 2A Cross Country State Championships at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

“This is what we’ve been working for — they understand that,” Sypert said. “It’s easy to feel confident when you’ve worked as hard as possible and done everything you know you can do. ... It’s not just the race Saturday, but all the hard work we’ve put in the past three-and-a-half months, and over the summer and all the times leading up to this point.”

Eustace is making its third consecutive trip to the state meet. The boys team finished a school-best fourth last year, and Evan Arambula finished ninth and earned all-state honors.

Arambula will enter this year’s meet having finished first in last week’s Region II-2A meet (with a 5K time of 15:56) in Arlington. He’ll be joined by Mark Zimmerer, Jason Ballenger, Preston Schwartz, Hunter Rose, Gavin Kirkhart and Brandon Richardson.

Arambula, Ballenger and Kirkhart are seniors.

On the girls’ side, freshman Michelle Gomez continued her strong season and advanced to state by finishing sixth overall in Arlington.

Gomez ran a personal-best 12:37 (2-mile) to qualify, and she’s the first Eustace female runner to advance to state since 2006.

“Michelle had a breakout performance at regionals,” Sypert said. “She’s a hard worker and all the drama and the injuries that come up during the season, none of that has bothered her.”

Gomez will take off first Saturday when the 2A girls meet begins around 10:50 a.m. The boys’ 2A meet is scheduled to begin around 11:10 a.m.