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The Barbers Hill girls cross country team is ready to defend its District 21-5A title. From left are, Jessica De La Fuente, Grace Mathis, Maggie McNally, Demi Trammell, Bailee Nguyen and Alexis Galaviz.

Boys, girls look to reclaim district titles

Things are going to heat up for Barbers Hill cross country today.

That’s when the boys and girls teams head to Pasadena for a preseason match and to get a good gauge of where the Eagles are headed as the season gets under way at Huffman Falcons Relays on Aug. 16.

Head coaches Stacy Tucker (girls) and Cody Knight (boys) are optimistic about what their runners could do this season.

Tucker enters her second year in charge after leading the Lady Eagles to the District 21-5A championship and a 13th place finish at the Region 3 meet.

“We started practices much earlier this summer, so I am happy with the mileage we have logged thus far this season,” Tucker said. “One of our biggest strengths this season will be the overall experience of our runners.  We only lost two seniors last year and have many girls returning with a lot of varsity races under their belts.  Plus, we also have some freshmen coming in to increase our level of competitiveness.”

The girls will have to replace the points of Leilani Galvan – now at McNeese State – and Kylie Herndon.

Barbers Hill will be led by senior Jessica De La Fuente, juniors Alexis Galaviz and Bailee Nguyen and sophomores Grace Mathis and Maggie McNally.

De La Fuente says the varsity numbers have declined since her sophomore year, but the unity of the squad helps push the team forward.

“If we can stick together and push each other through, we will make it what it will be,” De La Fuente said. “Our coach is really motivational. She gets one going and everyone else follows along.”

Tucker said the Lady Eagles have two strong freshmen runners – Makayla Johnson and Christina Vasquez – this season that I think can really help the team. 

“I don’t think of them as dark horses, just lacking experience at the varsity level,” Tucker said.

The team’s mantra is “Choose to Elevate.”

“The sport of cross country continues to evolve and kids are running more miles and faster times every year,” Tucker said. “We have talked about making a choice to change things up in our training, choosing to prioritize often neglected areas like sleep and nutrition, etc. to elevate the standing of our program within our region and the state.  We can stay put where we are or make the decisions necessary to rise to higher level.”

The Barbers Hill boys took 14th at the Region meet a year ago after they too won District 21.

Knight enters his third season with six returning varsity runners in tow with  Daniel Armenta, Gabe Villanueva and Caleb Wampler leading the way.

Their only noted loss was Jake Gonzales and the boys have up and comer Zach Ferrigno to possibly count on to fill that whole after running well for the JV.

“He has run a bunch of miles this summer and is ready to make his first varsity team,” Knight said.

Knight’s grand plan will not change: Take the Eagles to state.

“We are in a tough region so we will have our work cut out for us,” Knight said. “Last year we had great depth.  Last year we lost five guys from our squad to some injuries and just plain bad luck.  In spite of that we were able to win district and make it to regionals.  

“This year we hope to keep that depth, but stay healthy, and improve on last year’s results.”

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