GRAND PRAIRIE — Abby Halbrook is running in the state meet.
After three years of near misses the Robert E. Lee senior accomplished her goal by finishing seventh overall in the 5A Girls 5K race at the UIL Region II Cross Country Championships held Saturday morning at Lynn Creek Park at Joe Pool Lake.
The top 10 finishers of the race and top three teams overall qualify for the state meet Nov. 9 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.
Halbrook turned in a time of 18 minutes, 43 seconds. The 5A regional champion, Maddie McLellan of the Woodlands, finished in a time of 17:53.18.
"She just ran a good race today," Lee coach Dennis Baker said. "You look at the top 10 and they are all heavyweights up there. When she passed the mile mark she was in sixth place and pretty much stayed there until the final (seconds).
"The girl from McKinney Boyd kicked her right before the finish line. I think Abby was happy with where she finished."
As a junior, Halbrook was in position to qualify for state but collapsed near the line. She ended up finishing 27th.
Baker believes Abby did not mind so much with having one girl pass her near the line this time.
"She knew she had qualified and now we will focus everything on the state meet," Baker said. "I think this is a big weight taken off of her shoulders; … state is now icing on the cake after a long season."
Halbrook is the first Lee cross country runner to qualify for state since Katie Lesavage did it in 1995. Lesavage went on to finish fifth at the state meet.
Lee Girls Finish 13th, Boys 18th
Led by Halbrook's finish, the Lady Raiders took 13th place in the 5A girls race. Freshman Mary Claire finished 26th in a time of 19:24. The rest of the REL girls and their times are: Claire Newberry (22:10.85), Erica Overmeyer (22:12.00), Claire Carnes (22:14.49) and Lareia Larkin (22:41.37).
"It was a real good showing," Baker said. "We were 14th last year, so we moved up a spot and that was with three freshmen running, so that really bodes well for the future."
The Red Raiders finished 18th led by Ian Estrada's 51st-place finish in the boys 5K race. Estrada turned in a time of 17:04. The 5A regional champion is Connor Meaux of College Park, who finished in 15:36.30.
The rest of the Lee boys competitors and their times are: David McCook (17:56.53), William Shelton (18:04.42), Isaiah Davison (18:04.43), Shafen Borah (18:13.18), Aziel Cornelio (18:58.97) and Phillip White (19:15.79).
"The guys had a solid team effort," Baker said. "They beat Rockwall, which finished ahead of us at the district meet last week."
Pine Tree sophomore Evan Barron edged Carrollton Smith's Jeffrey Moore by just over a second to win the Class 4A Region II boys cross country race on Saturday. Barron finished in a time of 16:00.37 with Moore ending up second in 16:01.61.
Lindale's Jeffrey Watson was 21st in a time of 16:47.54, with Jacksonville's Jerry Romano narrowly finishing out of the top 50 in a time of 17:27.97. The Pine Tree boys team was sixth overall with Hallsville in seventh. Jacksonville (17), Lindale (18) and Whitehouse (21) also competed.
On the girls side, Pine Tree's Christina Nelson will join Barron at state after she finished ninth in a time of 19:23.93. Whitehouse's Chaney Atwood turned in a Top 20 effort, finishing 18th in a time of 19:50.67.
The Pine Tree girls team finished ninth to lead area squads, with Hallsville (13), Nacogdoches (16), Jacksonville (17) and Whitehouse (19) also participating.
Spring Hill sophomore Kase White booked his spot at state Saturday by finishing eighth in the 3A boys race in a time of 16:55.89. Brownsboro's Cameron Milligan narrowly missed joining him, finishing 12th in a time of 17:05.99.
Canton's Ryan Huddle was 13th (17:13.66) with Henderson's Jair Garcia (17:44.11) also turning in a top 25 finish.
Kilgore was the top-finishing area team with a sixth-place performance, thanks to Sergio Rubalcava, Clayton Fletcher, Octavio Venegas and Clinton Rounsvall all finishing 34-39. Henderson was ninth as a team for the boys with Canton (15), Mabank (17), Gilmer (18) and Wills Point (20) also participating.
Nancy Sanchez was the top area girls finisher in the 3A 2-mile race with the Henderson junior ending up 32nd in a time of 12:47.13. Van's Beth Maddox was 36th. Canton turned in the top team finish for the girls with a 12th place showing. Bullard (13), Spring Hill (14), Henderson (15), Wills Point (16), Van (17), Pittsburg (21) and Mabank (23) also competed.
Edgewood junior Trent Phillips finished second in the 2A boys regional race with Eustace's Mark Zimmerer in third place.
Phillips finished in a time of 16:32.76, with Zimmerer turning in 16:41.89. Eustace runners Preston Schwartz and Hunter Rose narrowly missed qualifying for state as individuals, but no matter because Eustace took first place as a team.
Edgewood was seventh as a team with Alba Golden in 16th.
In the girls 2-mile race, Eustace freshman Skye Burns is qualified for state after finishing seventh in a time of 12:28.74. Winnsboro's Danielle Mabry also will be in Round Rock after she finished ninth in a time of 12:30.39.
Eustace's Chanda Westbrook and Shelby White were 13th and 14th, respectively. All will be going to state because the Eustace girls, like the boys, finished as regional champs.
Winnsboro finished 13th as a team with Grand Saline (21), Daingerfield (22) also competing.
Big Sandy's Allen finishes third at regionals, qualifies for state
Big Sandy sophomore Marcus Allen is going to the state meet on Nov. 9 in Round Rock after the Wildcat runner finished third overall at the Class 1A Region III meet on Saturday.
Allen turned in a time of 17 minutes and 36 seconds.