Sanchez wins 2nd straight gold at state, VHS boys bring home silver


Hill Country News 

Vandegrift senior Kevin Sanchez added more hardware to his trophy cabinet as he won his second straight gold at the UIL State Cross Country Championships at Old Settlers Park last week on November 4.

But that’s not what he’ll remember most from his final UIL race.

The Vipers boys’ team finished second overall in the team competition, the best finish in school history and a massive improvement from last season’s 14th-place finish.

“When they told us we got second as a team, I almost broke down,” Sanchez said. “It was really cool to hear that, and it’s definitely more rewarding. I’m gonna miss these guys. It’s been a wild ride.”

“Our boys and girls teams had their best state performances ever,” said Colin Sully, VHS cross country head coach. 

The girls were up first and after a soggy warmup, they worked their way up through the state field for a 4th place finish. The team got 8th last year and 6th previous all time best. 

“This was the seventh consecutive trip to 6A State for the girls team. The boys only qualified as a team for the first time last year,” Sully said.

The boys were up next in only their second appearance at state as a team. The boys team also made steady progress through the pack and emerged on the podium in second place overall, only 19 points behind Southlake Carroll. 

The podium finish also marked the first time in over 10 years that a top division Austin Area team has placed in the top 3, Sully shared. 

Heavy rains slowed down times significantly on Friday, but Sanchez still blitzed the field, finishing in 15:26.3, 15 seconds faster than the second-place finisher.

Dylan Schieffelin was the next quickest for Vandegrift, finishing 11th overall with a time of 16:05.8.

“I look forward to getting up every morning and running with my friends,” Schieffelin said. “We just give it everything we’ve got. It doesn’t really matter how we do, we just go hard.”

Freshman Kai McCullough (16:18.2), sophomore Hudson Haley (16:21.2), senior Alexander Bahrami 16:38.2), senior Eli Waddle (18:56.2) and senior Carter Richards (19:33.6) rounded out the Viper boys’ squad.

“I was running for the team,” Bahrami said. “I went into this praying our team would do good. I wanted to be as confident as I could, and I thought I was going to be nervous, but I got to the line and I wasn’t.”

Sanchez, who is committed to run at Notre Dame, finishes his high school career with two golds from the state cross country meet and one from the 3200-meter run at the state Track & Field meet last year.

Winning truly never gets old.

“It feels great crossing the line and getting to turn back and seeing everybody else come in,” Sanchez said. “Seeing these guys come in, especially. We’re very excited, and we’re looking forward to the postseason now.”

The Vandegrift girls’ team, finishing just off the podium, was led by junior Caitlin Garrett, who finished 20th overall with a time of 18:55.6.

Also finishing for the Vipers: freshman Tibbie Mustacchia (19:18.9), junior Kaitlyn Jones (19:20.9), junior Peyton Wagner (19:30.0), sophomore Leilani Wagner (20:08.9), sophomore Cate Cloran (20:14.5) and junior Annie Burton (20:15.4).

When asked what his secret is to coaching state-bound runners, Sully replied: “The secret is there is no secret. Our student athletes trust in a plan and a process that works. Our parent group trusts it as well and supports their kids week in and week out. We have a community that respects and admires distance running and distance runners. There are clubs, teams and other coaches in the immediate area that are just as dedicated and care just as much about fostering the growth of young distance runners. Our student athletes learn the value of hard work, consistency and teamwork. They sacrifice a lot of their time and energy to be a part of something that is ultimately bigger than their individual success. I’m incredibly proud of our team and fortunate that I get to work with them.”

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