Cy Bridgeland Cross Country Programs Look To Take Next Steps

Bridgeland runners compete at the 2022 UIL Cross Country State Championships

Amy Pitzel coached track and field and cross country for 16 years and her most recent stint was at Katy Tompkins in Katy ISD. She led the Tompkins girls to three consecutive UIL 6A state meet team qualifications in 2017, 2018, and 2019 with a 2017 Region 3-6A team championship and runner-up finishes in 2018 and 2019.

Pitzel was named Gulf Coast Scholastic Track and Field Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2017.This season, she will pick Texas high school coaches and athletes throughout the season to discuss a variety of topics.

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Despite the heat, Cross Country season is well under way and I was fortunate to be able to spend time this week with the Boys and Girls teams of the Cypress Bridgeland Bears. Bridgeland opened in fall of 2017, but this new program has already made a name for themselves in 6a distance running in Texas. Coach Tom Kennedy has led the girls as they have qualified for State as a team 4 out of their 6 years. They have finished in the top 10 twice and as high as 7th. Coach Kevin Waters and his boys have been at state with an individual or the team 3 times and have had a top 10 finisher in Randy Smith (2020) and the team in the top 10 twice.

Bridgeland boys have an undeniable force in rising junior Benjamin Montgomery who as a sophomore ran a 4:16 1600m, 9:00 3200m (5th at State), and a 14:53 5K on the track at Texas Distance Festival. Ben has big goals for himself and is passionate about running and even more passionate about racing. He is ready to lead the way, but what is even more exciting is what has been quietly building behind him.

The Bridgeland boys currently have seven guys who can go sub-10 in the 3200m and they have a range of experience and youth. Here are the seven whocan run in the 9's and their grade levels: Ben Montgomery (11), Kyle Pavlak (10), Hayden Price (12), Maddox McCallister (10), Nazim Benguedda (10), Cortlin Salge (12) and Vihaan Chamkur (10). Sage is a senior leader, 3 time captain and versatile runner that can contribute on varsity from the 400m to the 5K.The boys program is large in numbers due to each individual being valued and they are competitive at every level.

The girls of Bridgeland Cross Country are led this year by junior Lily Fawcett, who excelled this spring in the 800m (2:20) and 1600m (5:02), and senior Ariel Braley, who loves the longer races and ran a 19:22 5K at Texas Distance Festival. Coach Kennedy has learned to handle the emotions of girl runners and has built a culture of hard work and racing hard for each other. 

Kennedy is a data and stats guy and it is always fun to watch him interact with his team. He feels he has a solid top 5 in Fawcett (11), Susana Rawls (10), Kate Garrison (9), Braley (12) and Haley Hill (10) along with six other girls that could fill out the top seven.

The team had a great summer of training and the key to their best finish yet at state very well maybe the positive team dynamics they have this year.

Both teams are ranked preseason top 10 in the CCCAT poll and I am sure they will climb as the season progresses. Go Bears!