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UIL Region III Cross Country Championship Meet Produces Two Stratford Individual State Qualifiers

By Brad Rushing, 10/30/23, 7:55PM CDT


Kate Barr Ross Park in Huntsville was the site of the Region III - 6A Cross Country Meet last Tuesday morning, and both the Stratford boys and girls teams lined up against the Region's best after advancing from our District meet. Although not everything turned out as planned, our athletes competed extremely hard on the big stage and produced several outstanding performances.

Varsity Boys

After an impressive season of results and times leading up to Championship season, our boys were considered one of the favorites to finish top-4 at Regionals and advance to the State Meet for the first time since becoming a 6A school in 2016. Coach Bramanti had our athletes extremely fit, mentally prepared, and ready to go, but a whole host of factors come into play on race day that can swing results in one direction or another. Although they gave it everything they had, they finished just 8 points behind the 4th place team and failed to advance. Although it was a very tough pill to swallow, being the fifth-best team out of 64 in the Region is an outstanding accomplishment and Coach Bramanti and the team can hold their heads high and be proud of all that they achieved this season. They created memories that will last a lifetime and our seniors are leaving our tradition-rich program in a very good place.

We have more reason to celebrate! Junior Ben Pearce continued his stellar season by finishing fourth overall and advancing to the state meet for the second year in a row. Ben was the top finisher among underclassmen in Region III and has established himself as one of the best high school distance runners in Texas. Ben's strength and consistency are impressive, having posted times of 15:31 at District and 15:32 at Regionals. He’s ready to make some noise in Round Rock, and we can’t wait to watch him compete.

Senior Jona Morford wrapped up a very strong senior season by finishing 21st, just missing an individual State qualifier by two spots. Prior to Regionals, Jona’s season results were: 2nd place at Clear Falls, 6th at Kingwood, 12th at Seven Lakes, 10th at Strake Jesuit, 2nd at SBISD, 75th at Hoka McNeil, 67th at Nike South, and 6th at District. His Personal Best (PB) in the 5K was 15:49 and his improvement from freshman to senior year was remarkable. Jona's leadership this season was instrumental to the success of our team.

Junior Andrew Hopkins was the third Spartan across the finish line at Regionals in an impressive 36th place. Andrew was our consistent #4 runner this season, but performed as our #3 on two different occasions. He is as tough a distance runner as you will find, and a great teammate to everyone. Andrew had a PB of 16:07 this season and his highlights included 4th place at SBISD, 37th at Seven Lakes, 32nd at Strake Jesuit, and 6th place at District.

Senior Daylan Rushing’s final high school cross country meet ended in a 48th place at Regionals. After getting tangled up in the pack and knocked to the ground during the first mile of the race, he was able to regain his composure and pass close to 100 runners over the course of the final two miles of the race. Daylan had a senior year to be proud of, posting the following results over the season: 5th at Clear Falls, 5th at Kingwood, 48th at Seven Lakes, 19th at Strake Jesuit, 3rd at SBISD, 100th at Hoka McNeil, 32nd at Nike South, and 4th at District. He achieved PB’s in the 5K (15:58) and the two-mile (9:58).

As has been the case for most of the season, sophomore Owen Duggan was the fifth Spartan finisher at Regionals and crossed in 98th. Owen was a very important contributor this season and gained tremendous racing experience in big events. Owen ran a PB of 16:39 at the District meet and finished 12th place overall. It’s exciting to know that Owen has two more years as a Spartan.

Another sophomore, Jake Rodriguez, ran on Varsity the entire season and finished 137th at Regionals. Jake ran PB’s of 17:25 in the 5K this season, and 10:38 in the 2-mile. The Spartans will lean on Jake for big things to come in the next two years.

Junior Samuel Jordan was our seventh runner at Regionals, and he crossed the finish line in 161st overall. Samuel had a solid start to the season and ran a PB of 17:19 at the Strake Jesuit Invitational in early September. Unfortunately, he dealt with injuries late in the season and should be commended for his toughness and positive attitude in spite of the setbacks he faced.

Top 10 teams in order of finish (24 teams competed) : Katy Tompkins, Katy, Houston Clear Lake, Deer Park, Stratford, Katy Seven Lakes, Humble Atascocita, Humble Summer Creek, Houston Strake Jesuit, Clute Brazoswood

Individual Results - 5K - 181 finishers

Ben Pearce - 4th - 15:32

Jona Morford - 21st - 16:03

Andrew Hopkins - 36th - 16:30

Daylan Rushing - 48th - 16:42

Owen Duggan - 98th - 17:29

Jake Rodriguez - 137th - 18:17

Samuel Jordan - 161st - 19:06


Varsity Girls

After losing four girls from last year’s team that finished second place at Regionals and competed at State, this was a rebuilding year for the Spartan girls cross country program. Our team competed with only five runners for most of the season, and seniors Niamh Collins and Amelia Bommer were the only returning members. Even so, a third-place team finish at the District meet was an exciting result and served as an opportunity for our new members to compete in a post-season Championship race. When it was all said and done, the girls finished a very respectable 17th in the team standings and enjoyed the experience.

The Spartans’ standout senior (and recently announced Rice University commit), Niamh Collins, finished 14th overall and qualified for State for the third straight year. Niamh’s performance at Regionals was one of the best of her high school cross country career, tying her previous PB of 18:39 on the challenging course at Kate Barr Ross Park. Niamh built quite a resumé with the following results this season: 2nd at Clear Falls, 2nd at Kingwood, 7th at Seven Lakes, 6th at Strake Jesuit, 2nd at SBISD, 1st at Hoka McNeil, 26th at Nike South, and 4th at District. For those of you counting at home, she had seven top-10 results coming in to Regionals. Not too shabby for a distance runner whose "real “ specialty is on the track in the 800 meters and 1600 meters. Keep an eye out for Niamh in Round Rock next weekend.

Our other senior, Amelia Bommer, came very close to top-75 in Huntsville, finishing a solid 78th position. Amelia’s top finish this season was 12th at District and she was our #2 runner for a big portion of the year. Amelia is an outstanding teammate and her presence will be missed next season.

Dual-sport freshmen, Olivia Ceraudo and Savannah Ceraudo, who are also on the Varsity Swim Team, competed at the Varsity level the entire season and finished 122nd and 131st at Regionals. They made meaningful contributions in their first season as high school cross country runners and have bright futures on the cross country course and in the swimming pool.

Coming off an outstanding District race just a week and a half earlier, sophomore Laura Gonzalez finished 134th at Regionals to wrap up her first year as a Varsity cross country runner. Laura ran well this season and will look to continue to build on the success she has had early in her high school running career.

Individual Results - 5K - 176 finishers

Niamh Collins - 14th - 18:39

Amelia Bommer - 78th - 21:17

Olivia Ceraudo - 122nd - 22:08

Savannah Ceraudo - 131st - 22:32

Laura Gonzalez - 134th - 22:35


NEXT UP: UIL TEXAS STATE CROSS COUNTRY MEET, Old Settlers Park, Round Rock, TX, Saturday, November 4th

6A Varsity Girls - 8:30 am

6A Varsity Boys - 9:10 am

GOOD LUCK Ben, Niamh, Coach Bramanti, Coach Drayton, and Coach Huntsman!