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The student news site of Kingwood Park High School

KP TIMES

The student news site of Kingwood Park High School

KP TIMES

Boys return to Region Meet with experience, confidence

Junior Elijah Merino jumps to an early lead in the district championships at Atascocita High School on Oct. 12. He maintained the lead through the entirety as he finished first in 15:49.

The varsity boys cross country team qualified for region after a tough battle against Dayton. They placed second in their district meet at Atascosita on Thursday, trailing Dayton by only five points. 

“It was gonna be a real tough battle against Dayton and they just got us at the end,” boys cross country coach Chris Elliott said. “So that happens sometimes, but we get to live another day and go to race at the regional cross country meet.”

All seven varsity runners – Elijah Merino (1st), Carson Brown (3rd), Clay White (11th) Edun Almeida (13th), Mark Johanson (14th), JD McCombs (15th), Michael Segura (16th) –  placed in the top 20 at the district meet. 

“I’ve got a bunch of really good guys working extremely hard,” Elliott said.

Junior Carson Brown placed third with a time of 16:17, and junior Elijah Merino finished first with a time of 15:49. Merino led the race by a 22 second margin for the entirety of the race. 

“I was so happy for him,” Brown said. “I was just proud. I was proud of everyone.”

Elliott said he is proud of the team not only at their district meet, but also during the entire season. The team worked hard at their meets, practices and in the classroom. 

Elliott is helping prepare the boys for the Region Meet on Oct. 23 at Lynn Creek Park in Grand Prairie, Texas. He is hopeful they will place in the top four teams and qualify for state.

“This one race is not going to define them,” Elliott said. “Hopefully it’ll motivate them.”

Another runner who especially stood out at the District Meet was senior Mark Johanson, who broke his personal record by 24 seconds after coming back from a recent injury. 

“He’s been injured and came out and ran a gutsy race,” Elliott said. “I was really happy with that.”

While Brown is disappointed the team didn’t take first place, he was proud of his entire team, especially Merino, who helped lead the team to the State Championships at last year’s Region Meet.

“He’s practically my brother, he’s got me through all my hard times, all my good times,” Brown said. “I’m just really glad to have a guy like him in my life.”

Merino vividly remembers the passion he saw from his teammates post race. He is hopeful that this passion will help the team win the Region Meet and return to State. 

“I’ve talked to some of them and I just saw this fire in their eyes,” Merino said.

The second-place finish for the Panthers came after three years of winning the district title. Even though the team fell second to Dayton, Merino said he has a lot of respect for Dayton and its cross country team. 

“As much as it hurts us to see us losing that three-year streak,” Merino said, “we have a lot of respect for them in the sense that they deserved it.”

Even so, the entire team is motivated to do their best at region and qualify for state. 

“It’s just another team that we got to beat,” Johanson said.

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