SURFSIDE BEACH — It’s always a little different when running on sand, but that’s part of the challenge for runners Saturday at the Brazosport Surfside Invitational at Surfside Beach.

In it’s sixth installment of the race, Brazosport High School cross country will host varsity runners and sub-varsity runners. Varsity boys kick off the event at 8 a.m., followed by varsity girls at 8:30 a.m., with sub-varsity teams following that.

Alongside Brazosport runners will be athletes from Angleton, Columbia, Danbury, Sweey, Tidehaven and Van Vleck.

After two meets, the Exporters and Lady Ships are doing well on the course, head coach Robert Nichol said.

“We went to the Brazoswood meet and we’re not there yet, but we went to the Bellaire Meet last week and we placed 11th in boys and Hayley Nanez placed 13th in the girls division,” Nichol said. “But that was the most difficult course I’ve ever seen in cross country. It was amazingly difficult, but I thought the kids ran fast for the amount of up and down hills that they had at that place.”

Nichol was pleased with other runners last weekend and is getting someone back this weekend.

“Aaron Navarrette was our second finisher and he ran a strong race,” he said. “On the girls race, Valerie Mendoza also ran strong. It looks like we are getting back our top varsity girl from last year (Vivianna Ruiz), she had ACL surgery and I am anxious to see how she does. We are not trying to put too much pressure on her, but she wants to run.”

Now that Brazosport is back on a flat surface, he anticipates seeing some more improvement.

“I want to make sure that they run a smart race,” Nichol said. “We are trying to get to the point where they won’t go out to fast and have nothing at the end, that they take the race and are pretty consistent during the race. I don’t want them to be too fast or too slow and then have too much left at the end. We are working on the timing of it and they have to know where they are at in their head and to also have a strong finish.”

Sweeny head cross country coach Samantha Kuykendall is in her second season and has already seen a jump in attendance going from 16 runners last year to 28 this season. She’s got 18 Lady Bulldogs running along with 10 Bulldogs on the course.

Sweeny, which already has two meets under their belt, was in Port Lavaca last weekend at the Sandcrab Invitational.

“We didn’t do anything as a team, but I did take Daisy De Carlos along with junior Taylor Cook, who is in her first year running and was running her first meet,” Kuykendall said. “She is a go-getter and works hard.”

“For the boys, I moved up freshman Garrett Virgel, who was running on the JV. Garrett is the second of three freshmen that I considered moving up and the third one could be moved up as well.”

Kuykendall wants to continue seeing improvement from her runners.

“I’ve warned them that times might be slower because of the sand, but I’d like to see them PR either way,” she said. “I want them to work on running together and pushing each other because we have several runners who are close in speed. I’d also like to see them beat anyone from our district, that is their goal if they see someone.”

Joel Luna is sports editor for The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0160 or at joel.luna@thefacts.com

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