- Wheat Middle School
Smith and Wheat Dominate Quad County District XC Meet
Cleburne’s middle school cross country programs ended another season in the win-win column, with the Smith eighth grade boys team taking the Quad County District Championship and Wheat’s Jalen Bolden taking the individual gold.
The Smith seventh grade boys team finished as District runner-up at the October 16 race held at the Cleburne Sports Complex, with the girls eighth grade XC team coming in third. The girls seventh grade team finished seventh.
Smith’s eighth grade boys set a winning pace from the start of the XC season, coming away with first place team finishes at invitational races in Keene, Covington, Glen Rose, Granbury and Stephenville.
Finishing in the top ten at District were eighth graders Boston Bicknell-4th place, Benjamin Ludlow-7th place and Jose Rivera-10th place. The District Champion team also included Miguel Sanchez, Gabriel Flores, Christian Ludlow, Bryan Roman, Collin Graeve, Oscar Juarez, Matthew Babel, Brandon Diest, Max Carey, Gael Cruz, Alex Trevino, Cole Geltmeier, Kade King, Jesus Cardenas, Falon Trevino, Corbin Forrester, Zack McClure, Connor McMinn and Jorge Martinez.
“The eighth grade boys had a lot to prove this season, trying to defend their district title as seventh graders,” Coach Jennifer Wilson said. “Towards the end of the season, injuries started taking out our top runners, but these boys didn’t quit. Other runners stepped up because they knew that their teammates needed them to.”
The Smith seventh grade boys team proved to be just as competitive as the eighth grade when it came to the winning streak posted at invitational races. Smith’s District medalists included bronze winner Leandro Rivera and Keith Carter, who came in eighth.
Smith has also maintained a consistent streak in the size and depth of their cross country teams at both the seventh and eighth grade levels.
“I can’t tell you what attracts students to our Cross Country program,” Wilson said. “It takes a special person to run in the heat like these kids do—and I have so much respect for them because of that. A lot of these students are also involved in other fall sports such as volleyball, football, soccer and cheer, so they are pulling double and triple duty.”
Bolden, as District Champion and Wheat’s lead runner, was closely followed by teammate Dorian Potter, who was ninth across the finish line.
Bolden placed third in District as a seventh grader and is a multiple sport athlete, playing both defense and offense in football, with plans to continue on to basketball, ending with track in the spring. At this year’s final race of the season, he posted a time of 11:43 on the two-mile course. He finished among the top three runners at every invitational in which he competed.
“My coaches wanted me to run in cross country,” he said. “Football is my favorite sport, but I would say cross country is my second favorite. I admit sometimes I don’t feel like running.”
Wheat XC Coach Joseph Chavez talks about perseverance in describing Bolden’s mindset and performance.
“He never quits,” Chavez said. “Even if he’s hurt, he’ll fight through it. Unlike a lot of kids, he’ll push through when it gets tough. That’s what separates him from the rest.”
“Last year, when he ran the 800 in track, he beat the times of both the seventh and eighth graders who were running,” Chavez said. “He never gets tired. He’s made different—there’s a special motor in Jalen. He’s a great kid. I wish I had ten of him.”
Chavez and Wilson share a feeling of pride in what was achieved by all the middle school long distance racers, knowing what they can do as XC teammates when they get to Cleburne High School.
“Cross Country is largely a mental sport,” Wilson said. “Who wants to get up and be at school at 6 a.m. to run miles which include hills, with some sprints thrown in? Who wants to run after school when the heat index can be above 100 degrees? Everyone that comes to our Cross Country programs knows the expectations from the very first day of practice—you show up, you work hard and you earn the right to run at meets. This is what our kids do.”
“I will say again, I have a lot of respect for these kids,” she said. “I cannot tell you how proud I am of each one of them. I love these kids—and I’m proud to be their coach.”
The Smith Middle School 8th grade boys Cross Country team came away with the championship at the Quad County District Meet. Team members include back from left, Miguel Sanchez, Gabriel Flores, Christian Ludlow, Bryan Roman, Collin Graeve, Oscar Juarez, Matthew Babel, Brandon Diest, Max Carey, Gael Cruz, Alex Trevino and front, Cole Geltmeier, Kade King, Jesus Cardenas, Falon Trevino, Jose Rivera (10th place), Corbin Forrester, Benjamin Ludlow (7th place), Zack McClure, Connor McMinn, Jorge Martinez. Not pictured is 4th place medalist Boston Bicknell. (Courtesy Photo)