After back-to-back weeks of fourth place finishes on the local cross country scene, Captain Shreve senior Samantha Hilburn broke through for her first win of the season finishing the 3-mile course in 19:14 at the Byrd Cross Country Invitational Saturday morning at the South Bossier Park complex. Hilburn’s performance led the Lady Gators to team honors, out pacing host Byrd.
“We redeemed ourselves from Thursday night,” Hilburn said, a huge smile on her face, referring to the Yellow Jackets 1-5A victory over the Gators on the gridiron.
Hilburn’s time was 12 seconds faster than her time on the same course at Parkway’s Ark-La-Tex Border Dash that was run in warmer conditions a week ago.
“The weather was a little cooler this week and I knew what to expect,” said Hilburn, who credited her teammates.
“When I was a freshman there was only me and one other runner who was a senior. Now we have a team feel. We work hard in practice and encourage each other. I think everyone on the team improved their time from last week.”
One thing that Hilburn would like to be more like her freshman year is her time. That season Hilburn won All-State honors at the LHSAA State Meet by finishing 10th with a time of 18:44.
“That is my goal.”
Huntington’s Samuel Kelly led the boys’ race for first two miles before West Ouachita’s Jansen Nowell and St. Mary’s Scott Maggio passed Kelly and battled it out for the last mile. Nowell would separate himself, winning the boys’ title with a time of 15:51, 14 seconds ahead of Maggio.
“It was flat and fast,” Nowell said. “I didn’t really know what to expect from the competition over her so I just got in a comfortable rhythm for first part of the race before trying to get out in front and separate myself.”
Nowell gave credit to his teammates, four of whom finished in the top 8.
“The team did really good. They have heart!”
West Ouachita Coach Alex Shambro, in his second year of coaching cross country at the school, echoed those remarks. “The story to day was our fourth and fifth guys — Tyler McVay and Clayton Bryan, they stepped up today.”
McVay, a junior for the Chiefs, finished 7th overall while Bryan, a senior, finished 8th.
In the middle school division, Caddo Middle Magnet’s 7th grader Doodle Hilburn led the Lady Stallion’s to their third straight team title in as many weeks by extending her win streak to three. Following in her big sister’s footsteps, the younger Hilburn finished the two mile course in 13:39. Teammates Miranda Milner, Lillie England, and Isabel Black would round out the top four. Haughton Middle School claimed the runner-up spot in the girls division
Cope’s Will Dart won the middle school boys’ title with a time of 12:02. While Benton Middle School had four runners in the top 10 in the division.