We Will WINsday: Houston Stratford Boys

Houston Stratford varsity boys talk after their team win at Katy Seven Lakes Showcase

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The Houston area is up for grabs for the boys 2021 cross country season. There are some of the state's top teams in the area and currently four boys teams in the most recent Cross Country Coaches Association of Texas (CCCAT) team rankings. Those rankings have Atascocita ranked No.1 in the state ,with The Woodlands No. 3, and Houston Stratford No.4. Also checking in with a top 10 ranking is Kingwood at No. 9.

However, one team not ranked that every one respects and expects to be in the mix, especially for the Region 3-6A championships is Houston Strake Jesuit.

At Friday Night Lights, the only competition thus far into the season with most of the teams competing against one another, The Woodlands took the 63 point win over Atascocita (70 points), Strake Jesuit was third (107 points), and Stratford was fourth (126 points).

Even though that race was only 4,000m long, it went a long way in the minds of the Stratford boys. Taking fourth place wasn't too comfortable of a feeling for a team that aspires to qualify for state and come away with a podium finish.

Strake Jesuit's top runner Reese Vannerson (12:28.60) was able to narrowly out run Stratford's top runner Emanuel Galdino (12:29.20) and they had the fourth longest deviation amongst the four teams between the first and fifth runner with a 1:20 split. 

2021 Seven Lakes Showcase Varsity Boys race

Just a week later, it was clear how big the desire to win was in the Stratford boys. They got another shot at the 2020 state meet qualifiers, Strake Jesuit.

Instead of getting edged out, Galdino was the one squeaking out an individual win 15:25.50 to 15:27.80 over Vannerson.

 "Last year we saw Atascocita, The Woodlands, and Carroll run as a good pack and that's what it takes to win state, we just need that pack to bring us through."

Jackson Potter, Houston Stratford junior

Although the team split wasn't a drastic improvement, it was an improvement none-the-less as they averaged 16:22 and split 1:18. Junior Jackson Potter said, "What happened last week, we really didn't run as a pack and that's what we tried to work on this week. As soon as we get that together, I guarantee we'll be one of the top teams in the state."

Sophomore David Kalwahali placed added emphasis on the pack running saying, "I think we can improve by working with each other; if we get our number two and number five together and everything will start clicking and we'll do good at state."

The Spartans have to first matriculate through the 2021 season as well as the UIL championship season in order to even get to the state meet. However, it's clear their mindset is there. 

Potter added, "Last year we saw Atascocita, The Woodlands, and Carroll run as a good pack and that's what it takes to win state, we just need that pack to bring us through."

1	Southlake Carroll	78	2+6+19+25+26 (34+47)	0:41 1-5 Split | 15:56 Avg
2	El Paso Eastwood	84	7+9+10+18+40 (59+78)	0:50 1-5 Split | 15:59 Avg
3	The Woodlands	99	8+12+14+29+36 (53+67)	0:38 1-5 Split | 16:04 Avg
4	Atascocita	113	20+21+22+23+27 (41+52)	0:13 1-5 Split | 16:08 Avg
5	Coppell	137	4+15+31+32+55 (69+77)	1:15 1-5 Split | 16:12 Avg
6	Houston Strake Jesuit	161	13+17+35+39+57 (68+72)	0:58 1-5 Split | 16:20 Avg
7	Klein	161	1+30+33+37+60 (73+81)	1:33 1-5 Split | 16:19 Avg
8	San Antonio Johnson	163	3+16+24+58+62 (63+80)	1:30 1-5 Split | 16:20 Avg
9	Bridgeland	183	5+38+45+46+49 (66)	1:01 1-5 Split | 16:25 Avg
10	Katy Tompkins	202	11+42+44+51+54 (64)	0:56 1-5 Split | 16:32 Avg
11	Harlingen High	278	43+48+56+61+70 (79+82)	0:49 1-5 Split | 16:55 Avg
12	Round Rock	288	28+50+65+71+74 (75+76)	1:29 1-5 Split | 17:05 Avg

He is absolutely right. Carroll and Eastwood both ran at a very high level at the state meet last year with sub 16:00 averages and 50 seconds and under splits. The Woodlands was third with a 16:04 team average and only a 38 second split and Atascocita was close with a 16:08 team average and a 13 second split for a fourth place team finish.

In fact, only four of the 12 UIL 6A state meet qualifying teams had splits over 61 seconds. 

One of those teams - - Strake Jesuit. Stratford was able to get the advantage over the Crusaders last weekend, but they will compete at the Strake Jesuit meet this weekend for the rubber match between the two squads.

Both squads are well both coached and educated to what's at stake and when and they know these early battles will be forgotten when October and November rolls around.

We're finding out that the Stratford boys have the ability and will be battle tested when the Region 3-6A championships come around and that could be an advantage for them.

One thing is clear, they currently have the "we will winsday" type of attitude.