Strake Jesuit cross country squad takes Bellaire meet

It was Strake Jesuit’s B or maybe even C cross country team, but the Crusaders were still champions Saturday morning, winning the Bellaire Invitational at Bear Creek Park.

While the green-and-white won the meet, Bellaire freshman sensation Abuba Muhamed stole the show, running a 16:20.38 to win by a full second over silver medalist Jonathan Mayorga of Cy-Ridge (16:21.93).

“Abubu winning the meet was a real big deal for us and I think a real confidence builder for him,” Bellaire boys cross country coach Brett Hervat. “I think there’s no question that this was a breakout meet for him. I think it showed him what he is capable of. And his time, a 16:20, was a big improvement over his previous best, so I was really happy for him and happy to see him run the way he did. He looked great.”

His first place finish carried the Cardinals to a second-place finish in the meet. Strake Jesuit, with all seven of its runners listed among the top 23 places and four runners among the first nine places, won with just 38 points and Bellaire had 77.

Cy-Ridge took third place with 112 while Mayde Creek came in fourth with 128 points and Westbury was fifth with 175 points.

Hervat said Strake Jesuit, which traditionally qualifiers for the 5A state meet, has got it going on in cross country.

“Strake Jesuit’s very tough,” he said. “They won our meet and they didn’t even bring their A team. That group was running somewhere else. But they have a lot of depth and so they’re able to send a quality group to every meet they want to run in. And I knew they had a chance to win it, even without their top runners, and they did. But they’re definitely a favorite in every meet they participate in no matter, really, who they send.”

While the Crusaders didn’t register anyone on the medal stand, they went 4-5-7-9 with their top four runners to place those guys in the top 10. Their final runner in the scoring was 13th, giving them their low total to win.

Matt Solcher led the Crusaders and just missed taking home the bronze, coming in fourth (16:49.43) ahead of teammate Hugo Gonzalez, who officially placed fifth (16:57.14).

Braxton Mills was seventh (16:59.40) overall and third for his team with the final time below 17 minutes in the race of 129 runners and his teammate Max Jarvie, took ninth (17:01.15), putting Strake’s top four runners only 12 seconds apart with their times at the finish line.

Nate Cannon was the final Crusaders to figure in on the scoring, placing fifth for his team and 13th overall (17:17.06). Rafael Varona, who was 21st (17:47.49), and Kevin Quist, who was 23rd (17:50.96), were Strake Jesuit’s sixth and seventh racers.

“Strake Jesuit ran great,” Hervat said. “There was only 28 seconds between their first and their fifth runner and that’s how you win cross country meets by having everyone running together. But their first guy crossed the line and then here came the rest of their guys right after him. It was something to see and it’s the reason they’re so good every year. Their kids know what it takes.”

Obviously Muhamed led Bellaire with his gold medal, but the Cardinals had another top 10 runner with Sardash Karki coming in 10th (17:05.04) and their four runners among the first 20 to complete the course.

“I thought we ran real well,” Hervat said. “Abubu gave us a big lift, but Sandesh ran very well and so did the other guys. For us, to have four guys in the top 20 and all five guys come in in the top 30, we feel good about that because it was a big meet. We had about 130 runners in there and so to have everyone finish in the first third of what I thought was a pretty strong field, we feel good about that.”

Richard Goldman was third for the Cardinals and 16th overall (17:32.32) and Amaneul Eshetu came in 20th (17:45.56) and fourth for his team.

Ian Overman was the final Bellaire runner involved in the scoring, coming in fifth for the host team and 30th (18:12.55) in the pack.

Arjun Das, in 33rd place (18:23.09), and Karl Maier, who was 61st (19:48.60), were the other two Bellaire runners.

Second Baptist came in 15th overall as a team and the Golden Eagles were led by Reid Towns (18:01.86), who came in 27th overall.