Cross Country Advances Nine Athletes to Regionals

By Nima Ashtari, Community & World News Editor

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  • Pablo Lomeli '21 dashes towards the finish line. Lomeli started the race conservatively, crossing through the first mile barely in the top 50. He gradually pushed the pace to finish 19th overall.

  • The Varsity Boys team calm their nerves on the start line and wait to take their marks.

  • Deepti Choudhury '21 places 7th in the 6A girls race. Choudhury went out with the top pack, and held on to finish the 5K in 18 minutes and 20 seconds.

  • The Varsity Girls rush ahead of other runners at the start of the race.

  • Zachary Carver '21 sprints through the last stretch.

  • Neil Panwalker '21 runs head to head with a McNeil competitor.

  • Nima Ashtari '20 strides toward his end goal at the finish.

  • Varsity Girls kickoff as the starting pistol is fired.

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The cross country team capped off a successful season at Old Settlers Park on Thursday, Oct. 17 with a strong showing across the boys and girls divisions. Nine athletes, including all seven varsity girls and two varsity boys, will be advancing to regionals, a record number for the program. 

“We were all surprised when I found out we made it to regionals, we all started jumping up and down,” Rachel Iyer ‘22 said.

The chilly weather proved to be a catalyst for fast times, and the boys race certainly delivered. Pablo Lomeli ‘21 landed a spot on the podium, placing third with a season best mark of 15 minutes and 42 seconds for the 3.1-mile race. Nima Ashtari ‘20 finished close behind in fourth place with a season best of 15 minutes and 45 seconds. Ashtari and Lomeli both qualified for the regional race due to their top-10 placement. The boys team was one point short of the whole team advancing, and suffered a tiebreaker loss to the Leander Lions, who gained the advancing spot.

The girls’ race was a historic one, and marks the first time in nearly a decade that the girls have advanced as a team by earning a cumulative top three score among the district’s schools. Newcomer Deepti Choudhury ‘21 carried the girls’ team into third place, finishing third individually as well. Her season best time of 18 minutes and 24 seconds places her among the fastest 50 runners in Texas. Priya Gangadharan ‘23 delivered an equally impressive performance, crossing the finish line in ninth place in just under 18 minutes and 50 seconds. Sam Newlin’s ‘22 top-15 finish proved to be just enough to land all seven varsity girls a regional berth.

“Almost all our girls made a new [personal record], and I personally don’t think we could have done it without our coaches, our teammates, and the goal of making regionals,” Gangadharan said. “Every individual girl on the team is strong, but together we are so powerful.”

The regional meet will be held on Monday, Oct. 28 in Dallas, Texas. Runners who perform well enough at the regional will be able to compete in the UIL 6A State Cross Country Meet, which will also be held in Old Settlers Park.