State bound! Arabians capture 3rd at Regionals to advance to Round Rock

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Mari Murillo, Espi Mendoza, Bri Bernal, Brianna Bowyer, Brooke Runyan, Audrey Longoria, Kelly Geyer, and Yessika Garza finished third place as a team at Monday’s Regional Cross Country Meet at Dugan Stadium on the campus of Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. The Arabians qualified for the state meet for the first time since 1996, a span of 22 years.
“I am extremely proud of this group of girls,” Head Coach Khera Vay stated. “They have put in an incredible amount of work; they never questioned their training, and always ran for each other. It has been our goal since the end of last season to qualify for state. We proved throughout the year that we can meet and exceed our own expectations. Now our goal is to medal at state.”
The heart and competitiveness of these young ladies can be seen at the bottom of this article. When you scroll down to the Arabians race times, in parenthesis you will see by how much each Arabian runner beat the next place finisher. Holding off the competition to gain a better place played a huge role in Devine coming in third place and coming back to Devine with a medal instead of finishing in fourth place with no medal as they beat Boerne by a single point. Five of the seven Arabian runners beat the next runner by hundredths of a second while the other two Devine runners topped the next best runner by one second and some change.
Need for alarm
The support showed by the Devine PD, the Devine Fire Department, and other police agencies as the suburbans rolled back into town Monday around 6:00 pm was an amazing moment for the Arabian runners. Much appreciation goes out to all who coordinated that outstanding welcome home escort.
A huge shout out as well to the family, friends, students, and all community members who lined the streets to celebrate the accomplishment of the State Bound Arabians!
First reaction
Mari Murillo—Oh my goodness!!! (Insert tears here) I am so proud of all of us. It was the most nerve-racking 10 minutes waiting between the end of the race and getting the results. Once the Cross Country moms came up to us and starting jumping up and down, we knew we made it!!! As a senior, I couldn’t be more proud to run with such a great group of girls.
Espi Mendoza—I cried and I jumped up and down…and now my shins hurt. Honestly. We wouldn’t have made it this far without Coach Vay and all of the runners being packed together during the race. I am so happy that we accomplished our biggest goal!
Big Bri Bernal—I was freaking out; I was so nervous. While I was doing the cool-down run after the race, I was thinking about if we made it or didn’t make it, how close it was, and if we had a chance. I am proud of our team for competing to the best of our abilities and for running our hearts out. We have Coach Vay to thank for all of this.
Lil Bri Bowyer—I was proud of my team and how I ran personally. I am ready to go out and kill it at state.
Brooke Runyan—I was surprised because Coach Vay initially said that we might not have made it so my teammates and I were a little down. Once we found out we made it, I was extremely excited for us and for Coach Vay who is taking a team to state for the first time.
Audrey Longoria—During the cool down run, everyone was worried that we didn’t make it out. When we heard that we did, it was exiting as well as a big shock. Then I realized we still have two more weeks of 5:30 am practice…but I’m still happy.
Kelli Geyer—I was probably the one who was freaking out the most right after the race. Brooke was telling me to be quiet and to not worry until we found out more. Once I heard we made it, I was ecstatic!!! The most important thing is that we would not be here without the greatest coaches and our number one fans. Thank you Coach Vay and Coach Beaty! In addition, thank you to Coach Vay’s parents who always drive the extra hours to come to our meets to support us. We couldn’t have done it without ya’ll!
Yessika Garza—I am very excited and very grateful for being able to advance to state with such amazing girls. We put in so much work; it is a great feeling to see it all pay off.
Assistant Coach Jerel Beaty—When I heard the girls were going to pass on going to the Corpus mall on Friday night so they could stay at the hotel to do rehab, stretch, and get mentally prepared to run, I knew they had their head on straight and that they weren’t in Corpus to just go through the motions. I am proud of all the girls for their continued pursuit and achievement of this lofty goal, and I am extremely happy to see Coach Vay’s tireless effort to get this team to Round Rock pay off for her.
Head Coach Khera Vay—Watching the girls finish the last 150 meters I wasn’t sure that we were going to be able to accomplish our state goal. As I shifted my focus to cheer on Xavier, I kept replaying the race in my head hoping that they had done enough. When I saw the girls on their cool down, they asked me what I thought. I said I wasn’t sure, and that was a sick feeling. Once my phone went off with the confirmation, that we had advanced to state to break the news to the girls. Unfortunately, the parents got to them first and I got back to see their faces and witness their celebrations.
Team rankings: 1st-Bandera-62, 2nd-LaFeria-132, 3rd-Devine-146, 4th-Boerne-147, 5th-Liberty Hill-158, 6th-Salado-182, 7th-Lampasas-226, 8th-Gonzales-228, 9th-Wimberley-229, 10th-Rio Grande Valley Grulla-230.
Top 10 of 181 runners: 1st-Dariana Vasquez-LaFeria-10:59, 2nd-Jaci Mcgregor-Salado-11:01, 3rd-Emma Stauber-Boerne-11:02, 4th-Anna Casey-Llano-11:04, 5th-Morgan Cole-Bandera-11:18, 6th-Kaitlyn Schmeltzer-Boerne-11:20, 7th-Kaelynn Gonzalez-Zapata-11:25, 8th-Ivy Kohl-11:28, 9th-Brooke Wendel-Cuero-11:29, 10th-Odette Fernandez-Rio Grande Valley Grulla-11:32.
Arabians: 13th-Brooke Runyan-11:39.16 (.06), 24th-Espi Mendoza-11:48.22 (.26), 41st-Mari Murillo-12.03.73 (.21), 43rd-Bri Bernal-12:03.94 (1.25), 54th-Kelli Geyer-12:12.87 (.85), 82nd-Brianna Bowyer-12:39.37 (1.61), 120th-Audrey Longoria-13:02.77 (.001).
By Jerel Beaty
Staff Writer