Cross country runners qualify for regionals


Junior Samantha Shulhan during practice (Photo by Maddy Bouldin)

Grace Tsichlis, Staff Writer

For the first time since 1998, the girls’ cross country team placed first at the district meet on Oct. 20 and advanced to the regional meet with one individual going on to the state meet.
“Winning district for the first time in 18 years still seems surreal,” Amy Dehdari, girls’ cross country coach, said. “I was beyond thrilled for my girls because they did everything right and never eased up.”
Dehdari won District 6-6A coach of the year for the 2016 Cross Country season.
“It was quite the honor, but the girls did all the hard work. I got to sit back and watch as it all came together at districts,” Dehdari said.
In preparing for districts, the team began practice on June 6 and have practiced everyday except Sunday since then. Their practice has effectively prepared them for the district meet in which the team scored the least amount of points, placing them first overall and advancing them to regionals in Lubbock.
“The district meet was a lot of fun, and the other teams didn’t see us as a threat, but we knew we could do it. We won by 20 points,” Liles said.
In cross country the top five girls with the best time in the 5k count for the overall score for the entire team. The team with the lowest score after the five scores are added together are the winners.
“It is my last year, and we won district. It is great to see all the hard work pay off,” senior captain Lily Pham said.
The team was very excited by the win and for girls who competed individually.
“When they realized we won district, the girls were in shock. We wrote team goals at the beginning of the season, and it is an impeccable feeling to see all their efforts lead to success,” Dehdari said. “I could not be more proud to be their coach.”
Not only did the team advance to regionals, but three individual runners also qualified, including Liles, junior Samantha Shulhan and sophomore Ashlyn Hillyard. Hillyard placed first at districts, Shulhan placed sixth, and Liles placed seventh.
“Ashlyn Hillyard works incredibly hard and knows that each week is going to be a challenge. Samantha Shulhan improved by over 90 seconds this season alone,” Dehdari said.
Teamwork is an important aspect on the team because the girls’ have to be supportive of each other in order to be successful.
“It was really exciting, but we were really excited that the whole team qualified. We are really close because we are together all the time,” Liles said.
After placing first in district, the team advanced to the regional meet in Lubbock on Oct. 29. As a team they placed seventh out of 24 teams, but only the first four teams continue to state. For individual runners, Hillyard placed ninth and is moving on to the state meet.
“The team was predicted to get eighth but ended up in the seventh place spot overall. Ashlyn earned a spot at the UIL State Meet on Nov. 12,” Dehdari said.
Their performance at regionals placed them higher than 17 other schools, including Plano West and Allen. The team’s dedication and effort throughout the season helped them to steadily improve and be successful at district as well as regionals.