The Richards High School varsity boy’s cross country team are 16-1A district champions.
The Panthers secured the district championship Oct. 2 in Moody. “It was very exciting,” Richards head coach Justin Bane said. “We were looking it up. We couldn’t find the last time Richards won a team district champion. It’s been a long time.”
“I knew they could do it,” he said. “They’ve been really working hard to do it. That was kind of their goal. They wanted to win it.”
In addition, Richards seventh-grader Adelia Holtey was the junior high school girls champion. She received a medal for winning the 2-mile race.
Noah Bay led the boy’s team in the 5K race by placing second, followed by Elijah Bay in third, Ryan Wrobleski in fourth, Liam Wilson in fifth and Reece Wrobleski in sixth. Joseph Miller was 13th and Fanin Fuller 19th.
The Panthers who finished second through sixth received individual medals. All the boys received a medal for the team title, Bane said, and the team received a trophy.
The boys had not competed on the course, which sophomore Noah Bay described as “a challenge. There were a couple of hills.”
Bane said he wanted junior Reece Wrobleski to lead the boys from the start. “He kept everybody together,” the coach said. “He had a very important job. He kind of put us in a great position to win.”
Wrobleski was happy to assume that role, even if that meant teammates passed him at the end. “I did my job,” he said. “I kept my pace and let the other boys go ahead. I was going to go fast,” he said. “I came out and was leading the race for a little bit.”
The strategy worked perfectly. “We were surprised how well we did,” Bay said. “It (the pace) was fast compared to most of the races we run. I started getting used to it.”
Bay returned to cross country this season. He competed during sixth and seventh grades but did not run the past two years, when he played basketball instead. He said the Panthers stayed fairly close behind the eventual winner.
“Near the end he went ahead,” he said. “I sprinted, and I started getting closer, and he was already finished.”
Winning a district title in his first year as coach is special for Bane. “It’s a great feeling,” he said. “All the credit goes to the kids. They worked hard for it.”
The boys compete Oct. 28 in the Region IV championship in Corpus Christi.