What a Finish!
Dragon Cross Country brings home the gold
by Rick Herrin, CISD
All throughout the fall season both the Dragons’ and Lady Dragons’ cross country teams produced one remarkable effort after another. These exceptional runners dominated the courses since the season started in the mid-August heat. Ultimately, coach Justin Leonard guided the team through high expectations with record-setting results.
One more dominant performance by the boys and the girls took place on the biggest stage at the Class 5A State Cross Country meet in Round Rock. Both teams ended the magical journey with a run to greatness. Both delivered on expectations and earned 5A state championships.
It marked the first state championship for the boys’ team and they accomplished the feat in record-setting style. The Dragons produced five runners in the top 10 and their winning total of 20 points marked the best total in UIL history at any classification. The Lady Dragons finished with a team score of 34 points.
So how did the amazing runners celebrate? By jumping into Old Settler’s Park pond at the Round Rock course after being drenched with gold medals. It marked the girls' fifth title in 5A since 2005 and first since 2008.
“It was good to see them celebrate and let loose a little bit because they have been so focused,” Leonard said. “That was kind of an exhale moment for them.”
This Carroll cross country team was powered by razor-sharp focus. It was the kind of mental dedication Leonard had never seen. This team was so focused that each runner had their watch set to go off each day at 11:12 a.m., which represented Nov. 12 – the date of the state meet. This daily reminder fueled the burning focus.
Leonard told his team before the race that others wanted to see if Carroll’s runners were for real. Leaving the course with all smiles and new championship hardware provided the answer. Carroll is a state powerhouse in cross country and sweeping the titles helped erase some of the girls’ heartbreak from a year ago at the state meet. A year ago, the girls finished third and the boys were second.
These teams relied on confidence and disappointment was replaced by the most rewarding day in the program’s history.
The Dragons' top finisher was Nate Sullivan, who claimed fifth overall. And his teammates weren't far behind -- Ben Golestan (6th); Joe Sansone (8th), Trevor Gilley (9th) and Jordan Chavez (10th). The five runners left little doubt atop the leaderboard as a distant second-place Houston Strake Jesuit ended with 110 points.
For the Lady Dragons, Courtney Krieghauser led the way and edged out The Woodlands' Madie McLellan for second place. The Lady Dragons earned three spots in the top 10 as Shelby Chapin was sixth and Felice Johnson was seventh.
Both cross country teams followed their impressive state meet by attending the prestigious Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon the first weekend of December. The Dragons finished second in the nation, four points behind the winner. The Lady Dragons took seventh.
Carroll also won the “Best Program In The Nation” award given at the closing banquet. This marked the seventh time Lady Dragons have competed in the event and the fifth time for the Dragons.
Not only did Carroll prove to be the best in the state this season, it added national recognition to cap a tremendous year.
Protect The Tradition.
Varsity Girls (34 pts.)- 1st
2nd place- Courtney Kriegshauser: 11:23.50
6th Place- Shelby Chapin: 11:29.80
7th Place- Felice Johnson: 11:31.40
13th Place- Julia Sunderland: 11:43.70
18th Place- Rachel Harper:11:47.90
25th Place- Allison Naval: 11:54.30
36th Place- Sarah Roe: 12:03.70
Varsity Boys (20 pts.)- 1st
5th place- Nate Sullivan: 15:40.30
6th Place- Ben Golestan: 15:40.50
8th Place- Joe Sansone: 15:47.40
9th Place- Trevor Gilley: 15:51.90
10th Place- Jordan Chavez: 15:53.20
15th Place- Alexander Johansson: 16:07.10
25th Place- Connor Hendrickson: 16:25.90