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By Grant Lengefeld

 

Hundreds of invisible mornings where trails were blazed long before most were waking culminated into a fourth trip to the state cross country meet in as many years for the Lady Bulldog cross country team and the dedicated parents, family members and coaches that surround them.

The Lady Bulldogs returned to Round Rock on Saturday after placing second at the meet last season and in 2014.

In 2015, Hamilton returned to the top of the winners’ podium for the first time since 1996 when the Lady Dogs last earned state gold under the tutelage of now Hamilton Junior High principal Mona Gloff.

The state title run in 2015 marked the sixth state championship for a storied program that has returned to prominence over the past several years under the direction of defending two-time Texas 2A UIL coach of the year, Brandun Massingill.

Not only has Massingill coached the Lady Bulldogs to four state meets, he too has experience competing at the state level. Massingill was an individual gold medalist in 1997, running for the Priddy Pirates, and his team placed second overall that year.

The starting gun in Round Rock last Saturday was fired at 12:20 pm, and 148 of the state’s top competitors, including seven from Hamilton, began jostling for position as they took aim at the 3,200-meter course.

In less than 15 minutes, all of Hamilton’s runners had crossed the finish line. Senior Maddy Mehaffey sprinted the course in a time of 12:53.37 for a 34th overall finish in her final run for the Lady Bulldogs.

Mehaffey placed third overall at state as a freshman in 2014, ninth in 2015 followed by a 31st individual finish last season.

Senior Abbey Hale followed up a top 10, ninth-placed performance at the regional cross country meet in Grand Prairie back on Monday, Oct. 23 with a 43rd placement in Round Rock on Saturday in a time of 13:00.96.

Hale was closely trailed by freshman Kamryn Hope who completed the course in a time of 13:20.40 for a 69th overall finish. 

Sophomore Abby Killian crossed the line in a time of 13:22.12 for a 73rd placement. Killian led the Lady Dogs with a 25th overall finish last season at the state meet as a freshman and her sister, Kate, was a member of both silver medalist teams in 2014 and 2016 as well as the 2015 gold medalist Lady Bulldog cross country team.

Kate Killian has continued running and is competing for Southwestern University this year as a freshman. Senior Rachel Denman knotted the fifth fastest time for Hamilton over the weekend and placed 103rd in a time of 13:55.64 followed by junior Jaileigh McDonald with a 136th finish in a time of 14:57.03.

Senior Camryn Massingill also traversed the course in a time of 14:59.83 to become the 137th finisher in all of Texas in the 2A classification.

Overall, Hamilton placed ninth as a team behind Sundown, San Saba, Abernathy, Mason, Claude, Seymour, Panhandle and Harper, and ahead of Valley View, Valley Mills, Crawford, Lindsay, Grapeland, Port Aransas and Moody in consecutive order.

Sundown has now won team gold in three of the past four years with the exception being 2015 when the Lady Dogs bumped them from the title stand.

After winning gold in Hamilton’s 2A-Region II, Sydney Reynolds of Valley View continued her treasure hunt last Saturday by posting a winning time of 12:03.00. 

Goldthwaite’s Kylee Medina from Hamilton’s district also competed well, placing sixth overall in a time of 12:15.16 to follow up on a 17th-place finish as a freshman last season at the state meet. Each stride taken along the 3,200-meter course on Saturday represented dark mornings, mud, sweat, tears, heat, sleet, blood, broken bones, exhaustion, defeat, victory, friendship, dedication, team, family and so much more understood only by those in the arena.

Caliche roads and pavement in and around Hamilton, marked by the sneakers of six seniors including Abbey Hale, Rachel Denman, Camryn Massingill, Maddy Mehaffey, Chelsea Owen and Sydney Lengefeld, now trace a pathway for a new class of dedicated dreamers.

They came, they saw, they conquered, and the future of Hamilton cross country shines bright with up and coming runners now blazing new trails on the heels of their example.

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