Since day one, the Gonzales Lady Apaches cross-country have been on a mission to not only defend their district championship, but finally break through that glass ceiling and get to the state championship meet with some success at the Region IV-4A meet.
After taking on the pre-regional meet last Saturday, head coach Cully Doyle believes his team is ahead of schedule, especially since the Lady Apaches took first place in the mid-size school race.
“I wish everybody could have saw what we witnessed on Saturday morning,” Doyle said. “We drove up to the pre-regional meet on Friday with a goal. The goal was not so much to win, the winning, if we won, is a bonus. But the goal was to know the course, get more familiar with the course. We did run on it a couple years now but we have some underclassmen, some freshmen, that are competing for top seven spots, that need to see the course. So that was kind of our goal and man it was amazing.”
Of the 39 teams and 349 total girls running, the Lady Apaches took first place as a team, with Haley Garza leading the way placing ninth overall.
“I keep telling Haley Garza to be humble, but I’m going to brag on her right now, that girl deserves every credit in America,” Doyle said. “I don’t know how much more I can be proud of her. Every week she’s just proving that her training is at another level. A lot of people don’t see what she does on the weekend, on her morning runs, on her afternoon runs — and she’s still running twice a day and taking care of business. She’s on a mission that might be unstoppable right now. it’s amazing. She led our team to a championship in the pre-regional meet.”
Right behind Garza was Veronica Moreno, then Stephanie Reyna, Romy Cantu, Shelby Davis, Maura Garcia and Krystalynn Buesing.
“We had two freshmen slip in the number three and number five spot out of our top seven,” Doyle said. “I’ve never had a team here in Gonzales as good as this team.”
“We finished seventh last year at the pre-regional meet and I thought that was pretty good, seventh out of 39? That was still pretty good numbers,” he continued. “But this year — and we won by 23 points, so it wasn’t like we squeaked by or accidentally won. Our girls really showed up.”
On the boys’ side, Doyle brought in Antonio Hernandez and Avery Almaguer to take on the race. Hernandez finished 28th out of the 401 runners in the race.
“He’s on a mission for success,” Doyle said of Hernandez, “I expect things from him. He’s one of the top runners from our district right now, I don’t expect anything less. As a matter of fact, I expect him to win the district as an individual, he has that chance.”
As for Almaguer, the freshman runner has been proving himself since the summer.
“He’s been committed, comes eveyr morning, does what I ask him to do,” Doyle said. “I’m really challenging that young man to be successful and right now he’s on a miossion for success. I’m really proud of those two boys and the sky is the limit.”
The cross-country teams were scheduled to take on the Nike South The Woodlands meet but Doyle has opted to skip it, “for the sake of letting them rest on racing.”
“We know what our mission is,” he said, “we want to win district again. The girls’ goal is to be back-to-back district champs.”
The Apaches know that Wimberley will show up to the meet in Seguin with yet another strong team, despite not racing against them all season.
“I do believe our girls are going to win the district championship,” Doyle said. “That’s the first check mark. Everything else we’ve done to this point has been a bonus. We’ve never gone into a meet stressing about running. That will happen on Oct. 10. That’s the check mark. If we can win, great. If we don’t, we don’t. But I expect our girls to run good.”
Then it’s the regional meet where the Lady Apaches hope to get to that top-four spot and advance to the state meet. Doyle hopes the internal competition amongst the athletes will be enough to push them to reach their goals.
“I ran 14 girls [at the pre-regional meet],” he noted. “I ran our top 14 girls that day. Everybody is competing for spots. I couldn’t be more proud.”
The next meet for the Gonzales Apaches is the District Meet on Tuesday, Oct. 10 at Starcke Park in Seguin. The meet is set for a 9 a.m. start.