Sulphur Springs Independent School District Board of Trustees during the regular December school board meeting recognized the Sulphur Springs High School Lady Cats Cross Country Team, including coaches, for the runners’ accomplishments in State UIL competition this semester.
First, SSISD Board President Craig Roberts recognized Head Cross Country Coach Ross Hicks and Coaches Adriana Brena, Bryan Jones, Sal Mejia and Carlos Ramirez, then had Hicks introduce the Lady Cats Cross Country Team, recognizing the athletes who made school history by not only qualifying for the State Cross Country meet, but concluded the 2022 season 15th overall in the 4A UIL State Cross Country Championship, held at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock Nov. 4.
The SSHS Lady Cats Cross Country Team started out the year in second place at Hallsville, won the home meet (which twill be hosted again next year), second in Arlington at an invitational. The team was the District champion, and in District 4A-Region 2 competition finished third overall in the top four teams to qualify for state. At state, the school finished 15th overall as a team.
Individually, at the District CX Meet Haylee Schultz placed 1st and Edith Martinez 2nd, with Jolea Moore 5th and Laney Hurst 6th, earning each All-District recognition. At region, Schultz finished 12th overall, earning All-Region recognition. Laney Hurst earned Academic All-State honors.
“We have got a lot of young talent here,” Coach Hicks said. “This is one of the best girls team you’re going to find. You couldn’t pick nine girls and have any better character and people to be around. They push each other to be better.”
Coach Hicks noted the Lady Cats have a lot of young talent, with only one senior, and mostly lower classmen on the team.
Freshman McKenzie Buckland ran as part of the Lady Cats Cross Country team, but “got a little bit dinged up” at the end of the year, ending up in a walking boot.
“She did a great job, was always there being consistent, being a great teammate. We love the future that she has and the way she conducts herself,” Hicks said of Buckland.
Jaicee Jasmer, Hicks said, is “very talented” and will be attempting a run at the state individually in track in pole vault.
“She’s an excellent pole vaulter but in the fall she comes and runs cross country. Last year, she just appeared in the summer and she is phenomenal. This year, she’s had her ups and downs with some injuries, non-running-related injuries. But she’s done a phenomenal job and really came through for us huge at the regional meet, being our fifth runner. Without her, there’s a good chance we wouldn’t have qualified,” Hicks said of Jasmer, who was the Lady Cats’ fourth fastest runner at state.
Senior Laney Hurst has had some ups and downs in her cross country career at SSHS, but came back this year with a goal. Who was the Lady Cats’ third fastest runner at state.
“She was a great leader for our team both through action and through work. She was always that steady; you knew what you were going to get out of Laney every single week and it was huge for the younger girls to have someone to watch and to emulate. We’re going to miss Laney for sure, but we’ve got a track season ahead of us, so we’ve still go ta little bit to go,” Hicks said of the lone senior on the team.
Hicks described sophomore Edith Martinez as “a diamond in the rough.” This summer she showed up, noting her soccer coach wanted her to run cross country. By the second practice she was running right behind their two fastest runners. She was the second fastest runner on the Lady Cats team at state.
“You’ve really done a great job as a sophomore, just really bought in, just did everything the right way, just an unbelievable person. I’m just very, very excited she showed up at just hte right time for us. The Lord had favor on us with Edith showing up,” Hicks said of Martinez.
Jolea Moore was also part of the Lady Cats Cross Country team during the 2022 season, and finished fourth among Lady Cats runners at state.
“Jolea is our immensely talented freshman. We’ve known Jolea through middle school cross country. She came out doing winter races when she was in the 7th grade. She continued to do that. She’s very, very humble about it. She’s very successful, but is able to maintain this humbleness, this person that you wanted to be around. She gelled seamlessly with the team and Jolea did a great job as a freshman,” Hicks said.
Both Martinez and Moore would have qualified for state individual, even if the Lady Cats Cross Country Team hadn’t advanced to state.
Freshman Dylan McKinney joined the Lady Cats CX team in an effort to improve her track performance in the spring semester. Not only did McKinney compete at state as part of the Lady Cats Cross Country Team, she also was part of the state-ranked Wildcat Marching Band, Hicks noted.
Junior Haylee Schultz has been the team’s top runner for the last three years, finishing first among Lady Cats at state, and 85th overall at state.
“She did not disappoint this year as well. She had one little hiccup at our home meet, where a couple of her teammates beat her. It drove her and motivated her; after that, it was on! Sometimes it takes that. She’s done a great job all summer, all year, and to really lead by word and example. She is our leader, the person everyone looks to. Haylee has been with us through thick and thin,” Hicks said of Schultz.
Freshman Abby Williams, in addition cross country, also was a member of the Wildcat Marching Band that placed in the top 10 at state. About 2 days before the district meet, Williams dropped a base drum on her foot, putting her in a boot at district. Luckily, McKinney and Jasmine Yanez were able to step up and fill in for the two in “boots” due to injuries at the time of competitions. Williams was cleared medically just in time to run at the state meet, where she finished fifth among Lady Cat runners.
Jasmine Yanez was the JV leader all year and stepped in when the varsity runners were sidelined in boots due to injuries.
“We had to have someone come in and do it at the regional race and she’d done it before because she was actually a varsity runner last year. She’s also a member off the Wildcat Band. So, success was kind of a motto with these girls. I am very proud of jasmine and the way she fought. She was on varsity last year and she’s worked and worked and worked, and earned that spot back at the end of the year at regionals. I’m very proud of her, of the team,” Hicks said of Yanez.