Life Without State Qualifiers

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Emerson Barrett and Hadley Schrimpf on the starting line at the Region 1 Championship Meet.

Ella Barrett, Managing Editor

For the past several years, the varsity cross country teams have made it to the Region 1 Championship Meet out in Lubbock, Texas. This year’s seniors have been every year since becoming Paschal panthers. This year, however, was a different story.

The 2017 season was the first great season of many for the cross country team. Sophomores Whit Dennis and Patrick Estes joined the team and took the season by storm. Along with seniors Arely Jiminez and Samantha Palma, they led the varsity teams to Regionals.

2018 was a continuation of the previous season, with Whit and Patrick leading as juniors and the girls team made up of underclassmen. That year at Regionals, Whit and Patrick made it to the State meet.

The team was facing a sad goodbye in 2019 with Whit and Patrick–and several other members–being seniors. In the end, Whit’s last high school race was the Regional meet. Patrick went on to the State meet.

The 2020 season has been anything but normal. The boys team is now being led by senior James Barham and the girls by senior Ella Barrett. With no runners coming close to Whit and Patrick’s times and changed qualifications to make it to Regionals, everyone knew that there was a chance Regionals was out of reach.

The girls have had an extremely successful season, coming in first or second at every meet before the District Championships and it’s no secret that their saving grace was the introduction of two new teammates. Freshmen Eme Barrett and Hadley Schrimpf came into their first high school meet and blew everyone away. At the next meet, they did the same. And at the next meet. And the next, and at every meet this season. 

On October 30, the District Championship rolled around. This year, the competitive district for all sports changed. Instead of competing against schools like Sam Houston and Arlington Martin, Paschal now competes against schools like Weatherford and Boswell. In addition to changing districts, COVID-19 restrictions changed the rules of qualifying for Regionals; whereas in years past the top 3 teams and top 10 individuals not in teams qualified for Regionals, this year only the top 2 teams and top 10 individuals overall qualified.

In the end, neither team qualified for Regionals. James Barham finished first for Paschal and came in 13th place with a 17:30.38 and Aiden Revilla not far behind in 16th place with a 17:43.53. Despite both boys placing well, the boys varsity placed 6th overall.

The girls varsity placed 3rd overall, only 5 points behind Weatherford High School. Freshmen Barrett and Schrimpf are the reasons why the girls were so close to qualifying. Schrimpf placed 3rd overall with a 19:49.35 and Barrett placed 6th overall with a 20:06.61, meaning both qualified for Regionals individually.

At the Regional meet, Barrett and Schrimpf ran against girls like Brynn Brown, a senior from Denton Guyer High School who is committed to run at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is said to be one of the best runners in the nation. Despite the odds being stacked against them, our freshmen performed well under pressure. 

Out of 136 runners, Schrimpf placed 48th with a 20:47.6 and Barrett placed 76th with a 21:35.6. While it isn’t quite state qualifying level, it is still impressive for a freshman season and offers hope that at some point in the next three years, the varsity teams will make it to Lubbock once again.