The Strake Jesuit Crusaders’ cross country team is on the fast track to another sensational season. After beginning the year with dominant first-place finishes at the Lamar Consolidated and Spring Branch ISD cross country meets, Strake Jesuit then finished second at the prestigious Nike Pre-Nationals in Beaverton, Oregon.
“We have a bunch of seniors with a lot of experience, and they’re running well,” said Crusaders head coach Michael Kerley. Running well may be an understatement, considering the outstanding showing Strake Jesuit had against many of the nation’s top cross country teams at the Nike meet.
Competing in the meet’s elite division against 200 runners from across the country, Strake Jesuit’s Weston Novelli finished eighth overall, Nick Gibson was 11th, and Chris Schiller was 23rd. As a team, Strake Jesuit was a strong second to overall champion Trabuco Hills of California, which owned the nation’s No. 3 ranking.
“Our four top runners are probably Weston, Nick, Chris and senior Michael Wakeland, who’s just in his first year on the varsity team,” said Kerley. “Weston is a Division 1 prospect who’s looking at schools like The University of Texas and Rice. Nick is also a Division 1 prospect, who, like Weston, consistently runs under 16 minutes in a 5K race. Weston, Nick and Chris also finished first, second and third respectively in both the Lamar Consolidated and Spring Branch meets.”
The Crusaders now have their sights set on the UIL 5A Regional Cross Country Championship, which they have won in three of the last four seasons. Last year’s team ultimately finished seventh in the state in Class 5A. “We plan on doing even better this year,” said Kerley. “Our goal is to have our guys on the medal stand at the state championships.”
With victories in four of its first five games, the Memorial Club girls field hockey team is carrying a mighty stick in just its second season of existence. The team consists of 11 students from Memorial High School, another eight from St. Agnes Academy and one player from The British School of Houston.
“Our team was formed when a large group of these girls left private school to go to a public high school. They had no outlet to play,” said team coordinator Sheryl Doyle. “The girls just had a real love and passion for the sport, so we set out to form our own team.”
Along with Lamar and The Woodlands, Memorial is one of three club teams competing in girls field hockey in Houston. Also fielding teams are several private high schools, including St. John’s, Episcopal, Kinkaid, Duchesne Academy and Houston Christian.
Under the direction of head coach Shannon Pepin, the Memorial Club Team has quickly made an impact on the local field hockey circuit. “Coach Pepin has really motivated these girls,” said Doyle, who also had high praise for many of the players. “Anna Grace Hawkins is fast and has a magical ball and stick technique. Kaitlin Mooney is an exceptional goalie, while Marilyn Lovell and Caroline Doyle are great passers and scorers. Also, Katie Bobo is a team captain and defender who doesn’t allow anything to get past her.” Along with Bobo, team captains also include Tess Gee and Alex Egan.
In addition, Doyle says first-year players such as Danielle Benn, Katherine Copper, Alex Egan, Chanel Johnson, Annie Pitner and Megan Snodgrass have been big contributors.
Back in cross country, the Episcopal Knights girls are on the fast track after finishing among the top five in their first four meets of the season, including first place at the Lutheran South meet.
“We have a definite leader of the pack in Alex Perouty,” said Knights cross country coach Dick Phillips. “She’s an extremely talented runner who’s also one of our top relay runners who competed very strongly in the Texas Relays. Alex also played on our SPC champion lacrosse team last spring.” Phillips says other top runners for the Knights include Natalie Fry, Lauren Hollins, Allison Luther, Zoe Bauer, Caroline Martin and Hannah Yeates.
Among the boys, Phillips says the Knights have run well all season, including top-four finishes in the first four meets of the year. “We don’t have a major star on the team, but we have several runners who have led the way,” said Phillips. Phillips says his top runners include Ryan Manoogian, Trevor Brown, Derek Brown, Jorge Clifton and David Lankford. Plus, freshman Kelly McGee and Edward Taussig are coming on strong. “We have a really hardworking group of boys and girls, and we’re just trying to get better and better before the SPC Championship meet.”
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