By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
The historic season for the Waxahachie Lady Indian cross-country team came to an impressive end Tuesday afternoon in the 6A state championships.
For the first time in program history, the Lady Indians advanced three runners — seniors Emma Curry and Alyson Moore and freshman Emilee Jones — to the state meet.
Curry became the first female to qualify for the cross-country state championships when she was a sophomore in 2018. This year marked her program-best third state championship appearance, while Jones became the first-ever freshman to run for a state title in Round Rock.
The team is coached by head coach Edward De La Cruz, who is 12th year at Waxahachie and the third year leading the boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams.
Ahead of her third-and-final run, Curry noted that she had “definitely learned a lot about the sport and about myself” since that 2018 debut.
“I’ve grown stronger as a person,” she added. “As a runner, I was pretty naive about and new to the sport my freshman and sophomore years. I’ve learned a lot since then and it’s made me love it even more.”
As the veteran of the group, Curry also had the luxury of passing along tidbits about the course and preparation process to Moore and Jones.
And for anyone who thinks distance is solely used as a form of athletic punishment or conditioning — you, my friend, are wrong.
For Curry and the Lady Indians, the two-plus miles a day offer a welcomed mental and physical test.
“There is a lot that goes into it, and not just physically but mentally preparing for races,” Curry explained. “We have to continue to get stronger and there are a lot of different workouts that go into it — not just running. Throughout the years, I’ve learned more about myself and the sport than I thought there was to learn.”
The UIL state championship meet was once again held in less-than-stellar conditions for Tuesday’s portion. The two-day event began Monday at Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock with Class 1A, 3A and 5A.
Class 2A, 4A and 6A then took to the course Tuesday, with the 6A class running a 5K (3.1 miles).
Jones led the way for the Lady Indians, finishing in 57th place in a time of 19:23.00. Curry crossed the finish line just over a second later in 58th place (19:24.07).
Moore fell one-minute off her teammates’ pace, ultimately placing 94th with a time of 20:26.69 out of 119 runners.
The three were about three and four minutes, respectively, behind 6A state champion Brynn Brown of Denton Guyer. Brown paced the field in a time of 16:25.89.
The 57th-place finish for Jones in her debut also made a little program history, as she bested the 77th-place finish that Curry recorded in her first state championship appearance.
Curry will, however, graduate with the lowest-ever finish in Waxahachie High history. The Vanderbilt-signee placed 53rd in 2019 as a junior on her way to TGCA All-State honors.
For full results from the 1A-6A boys’ and girls’ state championships, visit: https://bit.ly/3fybbwj
TIME FOR TENNESSE
Curry will eventually walk the stage and end her storied high school athletic career as the most dominant runner in the history of Waxahachie High.
And it’s not really even up for debate.
Curry currently holds the 5K (17:15.4) and two-mile (11:12.6) run records for the Lady Indian cross-country team. She also has the Lady Indian track records in the 800-meter (2:18.70), 1,600-meter (4:55.89) and 3,200-meter (10:50.96) runs.
Curry’s 1,600-meter time was set in 2020 during the annual Big Green Relays hosted by Waxahachie ISD at Stuart B. Lumpkins Stadium. The personal-best time will have Curry ranked 16th nationally and 7th in Texas when she and the Lady Indians begin the 2021 track-and-field season.
She will also continue her endeavors as a student-athlete on the Vanderbilt cross-country team in Nashville, Tennessee.
Shortly after signing her National Letter of Intent on Wednesday, Nov. 11, Curry said her decision to sign with Vandy ultimately boiled down to the coaches, future teammates and location.
“It also came down to the great pairing of academics and athletics,” she added. “I wanted to use my running to help get me somewhere that I couldn’t go with just my academics.”
Curry was unable to take official visits due to COVID-19 protocols. She had to rely on zoom calls with coaches and potential future teammates and virtual tours instead.
“I just had to see which program I was more drawn to and having to look at all of the different stats,” said Curry, who listed her top schools after Vandy as Columbia, University of Texas, Alabama and Butler. “After talking to coaches and teammates more and more, I just realized that Vanderbilt is where I needed to be.”
Curry, like most high school student-athlete, also credited and thanked her parents, Kerry and Matt Curry, for her successes and their unwavering support.
“I just thank them for sticking through all these years and for always supporting me through everything,” she said. “They have always pushed to make sure that I was getting everything I needed.”
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith