Carroll Cross-Country Crowned State Champs
By Rick Herrin
Three-peat is a word Carroll cross-country coach Justin Leonard wanted to avoid. He didn’t want undo pressure placed on this year’s boys and girls runners, especially since the previous teams had produced 18 runners over two years who are now running in Division I programs. It’s hard to maintain the standards those special group of runners produced winning back-to-back state Class 5A state titles. Now, “three-peat” is about to appear on T-shirts and Carroll state championship rings, and Leonard couldn’t be happier.
It happened in one picture-perfect Saturday in Round Rock, as the 2013 Carroll teams now have a place alongside the previous two teams. The Dragons and Lady Dragons kept the tradition going with 5A state championships as Carroll continues to reign as a running superpower in the state.
The Lady Dragons won their seventh state championship, and the Dragons won their third title. While the final standings at state were closer than the past two seasons, the end result was the same. The Lady Dragons won by six points, and the Dragons won by five, making for a stressful Saturday for Leonard and the Dragon faithful at the race.
Leading the way for the Lady Dragons was Tig Archer, who finished fourth overall, finishing the 5K course in 18:20. Samantha Young finished 10th and Katie Burnham was 11th to round out the Lady Dragons’ top three runners.
It has been a work-hard-and-wait scenario for Young. The senior waited three years to get a shot at running with the varsity at the state meet. Her patience and commitment paid off as she succeeded like those before her. What makes this program special is the trust, work ethic and commitment in Leonard’s program. The runners commit to running 50-70 miles a week, following a strict diet and waiting their turn.
“The trust allows them to buy in and be patient that it’s going to happen,” Leonard said.
Most rewarding for these two teams this year was the ability to keep the bar raised. No drop-off happened, despite losing so much talent.
“The kids wanted to make a statement that our program is here and we are continuing the tradition,” Leonard added. “It’s a mindset and knowing that amount of work that has to be done. The younger kids see that.”
Another storyline in Round Rock was Dragon lead runner Jacob Pickle. A stress fracture in his leg prevented him from running in last year’s state meet. This year, he was spectacular and led the Dragons to a title with a second-place overall finish in 15:31.
Two places behind him, senior Connor Hendrickson capped a decorated career running for the Dragons. He became the only Carroll runner to be part of all three boys’ state championships. For Hendrickson, his sacrifices, sweat and commitment were built into the Carroll three-peat, which is now a word they can say and never forget.
Lady Dragons 5K (110 pts.)- 1st place:
4th place- Antigone Archer- 18:20
10th place- Samantha Young- 18:51
11th place- Katie Burnham- 18:51
23rd place- Moriah Dadson- 19:30
62nd place- Haley McFadden- 20:45
68th place- Arianna Lopez- 20:58
72nd place- Kayli Jones- 21:05
Dragon 5K (80 pts.) - 1st place:
2nd place- Jacob Pickle- 15:31
4th place- Connor Hendrickson- 15:35
9th place- Eli Canal- 16:07
25th place- Johnny Kemps- 16:34
40th place- Ansel Richards- 16:50
46th place- Brent Aydon- 17:00
49th place- Luke Lanham- 17:03