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Panthers attack course at Oak Ridge

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The Richards High School boys varsity cross country runners recently got their first exposure to competition.

Six boys from the varsity team competed in the Oak Ridge Cross Country Invitational in Conroe, three running in the varsity race and three in the junior varsity run.

“I thought the boys competed really well,” first-year head coach Justin Bane said. “Most of them have never been in a cross country meet before.”

The field had mainly 5A and 6A schools. “They weren’t intimidated,” he said. “They just went out there and competed.”

“I’m extremely proud of them for coming out and running,” he said. “They’re wonderful kids.”

Freshman Liam Wilson, who competed during middle school, led the varsity runners, completing the 5,000-meter course in 22 minutes, 5.71 seconds. He was followed by freshman Ryan Wrobleski at 23:23:06 and junior Reece Wrobleski at 23:31.89.

The course was one they didn’t know. “It was in great shape,” Bane said. “It wasn’t too hilly. It was a good starter meet for them.”

Freshman Elijah Bay led the Panthers in the junior varsity race with a time of 23:17.06. Sophomore Noah Bay was next at 23:26.96, one position behind, while senior Fanin Fuller finished in 25:13.42.

Bane said the boys have improved significantly since practices started. “Not only are they able to run farther, they’re getting their times down,” he said. “I expect their times to continue to go down.”

The boys competed Saturday in the Run the Dog Pound Invitational in Magnolia, another new meet for the program, and are scheduled to compete in at least two more meets, he said.

Richards does not have any girls competing at the high school level, but one girl is competing for the middle school squad.