by Hale Hughes
The Woodville cross-country teams saw their first action of the year this past Saturday at Claiborne West Park in Vidor competing in the Rick Miller Season Opener meet. The cross country coach, Ryan Kelly, brought nine Lady Eagles and seven Eagles to compete at the two mile course. The number of cross country runners is up this year and Kelly believes he has some special runners this year to compete strongly with.
Woodville competed with 4A Bridge City and 5A Nederland in each race. The Lady Eagles wasted no time in confirming Kelly's beliefs in the first girls' race of the morning. The "S.O.S. Squad" of Ella Standley, JordanOgden and Sydney Smith all placed in the top ten. Standley won the race with a time of 14.01. Ogden showed no signs of weakness competing with the larger schools by coming in third. According to Kelly, points are scored by a tally of each of the schools' top five runners and the team with the lowest score wins.
Smith finished with one of the toughest efforts resulting in a sixth place finish, helping spark the girls' team with enough points over the competition to take the meet win. Yoselin Miranda and Madison Tucker were Woodville's fourth and fifth finishing runners, contributing to the team's point tally.
Smith commented after the race that the course was flatter than she thought it would be, but thought her effort was good going against the bigger schools with challenging competition. Standley echoed Smith's opinions. "There was one girl that really stuck with me for the first half of the race, but it's still early in the season and I think I can improve my time."
Standley praised her teammate Ogden, 'She is very talented and just a natural. I'm so lucky to have someone ahead of me like her that can push me to be better." Ogden said after the race, "I think I need to work harder on my first mile and then on my last half-mile kick" to improve her time and compete for a win. Ogden said she thought the moist and humid conditions might have contributed to slower times, but "it felt good to get out there and compete."
Kelly said the girls did exceptionally well for the first meet. "I thought we would compete well, but I didn't go in expecting to win the meet. That was a good way for our girls to start the season," said Kelly.
Kelly also had high praise for Ben Worsley's fifth place finish in the men's race. "I thought Ben competed very well against the other runners, it was a good day for him," said Kelly. Worsley was the lone top-ten finisher for the Eagles. Worsley summed up his race by saying there was not a lot of passing opportunities that he was accustomed to. "I was happy with my effort, but I am not really satisfied happy with my time.
It's the first time I've ever ran only a two-mile distance in a meet." He continued, "This was also a flatter course than I am used to. That's normally where I catch people."
Kelly said that much of the training time for the runners is spent on hills due to the fact that the significant meets this season will all have plenty of hills for the runners.
The outlook for this season is good for the cross country program.