Celina girls XC

The Celina girls cross country poses with the Class 4A state championship, won by the Lady Bobcats on Saturday in Round Rock.

The wait was worth it for the Celina girls cross country team on Saturday in Round Rock.

As the Lady Bobcats all crossed the finish line at Old Settler’s Park to conclude the two-mile race in the UIL Class 4A state meet, the anticipation towards seeing the final team standings began. 

In years past, that moment had been a source of heartbreak for the Celina girls, who finished as state runners-up in both 2019 and 2020. On Saturday, the third time was the charm.

The Lady Bobcats captured their first state championship in cross country since 2002, turning in a resounding effort to finish atop the team standings by 31 points.

“We all got together. The girls were talking and I kept refreshing my phone on MyChipTime until the results finally popped up,” said Eric Krepps, Celina head coach. “I looked and told the girls, ‘Congratulations ladies, you just won state by 31 points.’ They all just screamed and started crying. There were a lot of happy tears but just some relief of finally being on top.”

That feeling had been within reach for the Lady Bobcats well before Saturday. Not only had Celina finished as 4A runner-up the prior two seasons, both outcomes were decided by single points in the final standings. Only four points separated the Lady Bobcats from Canyon in 2019 (109-113) and six points were the difference between those same two teams in 2020 (68-74).

“Single digits both years — those are just nail-biters. Our motto this season has been ‘Leave no doubt’ and they left no doubt on Saturday. It was awesome,” Krepps said.

The Lady Bobcats enjoyed a bit more distance in the final standings, totaling 80 points to outlast second-place Fredericksburg (111). Sanger, who finished behind Celina in the team standings at both the district and regional meets, took third with 133, while top-ranked Canyon settled for fourth at 162.

Leading the charge for the Lady Bobcats on Saturday was senior Adele Clarke. Although Clarke’s defense of her individual 4A state title came up short with a third-place finish, Krepps noted that her time of 11:19.7 was the fastest she had run at Old Settler’s Park — 12 seconds better than the 11:31.1 Clark clocked last season while winning state.

“People have asked if she was disappointed in not getting that individual gold,” Krepps said. “I think it was a little bit, because she’s always out there to win, but I think it really meant a lot to get the team title and she led us to it.”

With Clarke leading the charge, Celina placed each of its first five finishers within the race’s top 30 among team qualifiers.

Junior Alexis Frick managed a 13th-place run of 11:56.0, while sophomore Aimee Clarke checked in at No. 19 with a time of 12:00.1. Freshman Samantha Quiroz followed in 33rd at 12:19.3, and senior Sarah Coblentz took 42nd with a 12:28.8.

“[Coblentz] absolutely flew out there. She was awesome,” Krepps said.

The head coach added that junior Logan Brent turned in her fastest time of the season with a 12:50.9, good for 88th place, and that freshman Katie Hendricks submitted one of her better marks on the year with a 13:41.0 to place 128th.

“It all just came together on the right day. It was exciting to watch,” Krepps said. “I was about 250 meters out from the finish line and seeing those kids attack that last 250 was inspiring.”

Krepps and the Lady Bobcats approached Saturday’s 3,200-meter race by dividing it into four 800-meter parts. The head coach outlined benchmarks on where his girls needed to be at each juncture of the race and the packs they needed to stay in. Celina

“They executed it perfectly. By the end, we wanted all of the top five to be in the top 30 and we got exactly that,” Krepps said.

Look no further than the Lady Bobcats’ big-race experience as a key reason why. Aside from the team’s two freshmen, Quiroz and Hendricks, each Celina runner in action on Saturday had been part of the team’s state runner-up lineup in either 2019 or 2020.

Krepps lauded the guidance of his veterans in helping the Lady Bobcats to the top of the podium.

“They stressed the importance of how it all needed to be done and showed great leadership for our younger runners. They went there with one mission and accomplished it,” Krepps said.

For continued news and coverage on the local sports scene, follow Matt Welch on Twitter.

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