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Cleburne's Maggie Marshall Qualifies for State Cross Country--Again


            Cleburne’s Maggie Marshall crossed the finish line in the seventh place position in her race to qualify for the 5A cross country state meet for the second consecutive year.

            Marshall’s time of 18:42 placed her in the top ten among individual runners at Monday’s UIL Region II Championship held at the Jesse Owens Memorial Complex in Dallas. There were 24 teams and 173 runners on the course in the 5A girls’ three-mile race.

The Lady Jackets advanced to the Regional contest as a team following their third place placing at the District meet on October 17. Cleburne’s racing lineup included Maria Juarez, Aliya Carrizales (9th at District), Morgan Brinkley, Karman Wright and Trinity Granger. Carrizales, Juarez and Brinkley all posted new personal bests.

“I am extremely proud of the girls and the season they had,” Cross Country Head Coach Alicia Johnson said. “Qualifying as a team for Regionals is always the goal and is a huge accomplishment. But to qualify as a team with only two returning runners and the other five runners never having competed in a high school cross country meet says a lot about the dedication and commitment these girls have for the sport and each other.”

“They showed up every day for practice with a positive attitude and put in the work,” Johnson said. “At the District meet they put their team before their individual comfort and got the job done. Over the course of the season, I watched these girls go from being teammates to being a family, and that kind of bond is truly special. Every girl had a great season and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Marshall, who is a senior, voiced her excitement in the opportunity to compete at the state meet for a second time, in her final year of high school cross country.

            “I feel good and am super excited,” she said moments after Monday’s race. “It was definitely a fast pace today. The course was not too hilly, really pretty flat. It was great to be at Regionals competing as a team again this year.”

            “The goal today was to run fast and run strong, with the end goal to get to state no matter where I placed--as long as it was in the top ten,” she said. “And that’s what I did. This is my last year to compete and I’m very excited to be going back to state.”

            Her coach is also excited to be taking a Jacket to state as a back-to-back qualifier. Johnson was Marshall’s coach when she first ran cross country at Smith Middle School.

            “Words can’t express how incredibly proud I am of Maggie, on her season and making a back-to-back state appearance,” Johnson said. “Maggie’s work ethic is like no other. Her dedication, self-motivation and determination are phenomenal. She ‘gets it.’ She knows what it takes to be a state qualifier and shows up to practice every day with that goal in mind. She has run strong and determined all year long, and her performance at District and Regionals shows just how determined she is. You always want to go out with a ‘bang’ and that is exactly what Maggie is doing. To say I’m proud of her would be an understatement.”

            As she prepares for the final meet of her season, Marshall will be returning to a course familiar to her. As a 2018 state competitor, she finished in the 20th position among 5A runners from across Texas. The 2019 state meet is scheduled for November 9 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock. The 5A girls race is set for 1:10 p.m.

            Her plan between now and then is to remain consistent in her training, following a regimen she has long held to. While she may not be superstitious, she has worn the same set of socks—laundered between races—since the 2019 season began.

            “This year, I’ve experienced a couple of tweaks when it came to my body, but I believe you’ve got to keep plugging forward,” Marshall said. “I try to do all I can to take care of myself and make sure I’m healthy. I’ll keep training, eating right, getting the right amount of sleep, lifting—all those things that will come together and come into play in running a good state meet.”

            Johnson admits watching a student she has seen run with heart season after season will be bittersweet as she represents Cleburne in cross country one last time. Her hopes are Marshall will enjoy this final run—and embrace the moment.      

“What a bittersweet race it will be,” Johnson said. “Maggie has run a lot of miles, sacrificed a lot of time and dedicated herself to the sport—and the demand it requires. When she toes the line the last time as a Lady Jacket, my hopes are for her to leave everything on the course, to embrace the moment, finish with courage and to hold her head high. Maggie has accomplished quite a bit in her time as a Lady Jacket, and she has much to be proud of.”

There is still some mileage left in Marshall’s high school running shoes. She plans to be back in the spring to compete in track.



Cleburne’s Maggie Marshall is headed to the UIL 5A state cross country meet for a second year, following her seventh place finish at Monday’s Region II Championship. The Lady Jackets were among the 24 teams to compete at the Regional level, following Cleburne’s third place finish at District.