P reparing to run over hills and staying healthy have been critical this week for two Brazoswood cross country runners in preparation for their biggest race of the season.

Madison Habeck and Sam Whitmarsh will run at the UIL 6A Cross Country State Championship Saturday at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock. Habeck’s race will start at 2:30 p.m., with Whitmarsh’s following at 3:10 p.m.

“We’ve just been doing the usual and just trying to stay healthy,” Brazoswood head cross country coach Michael Tummins said. “We’ve been running more hills lately to prepare for Round Rock, and it’s been going well.”

It’s the first time for both Habeck and Whitmarsh to be representing Brazoswood cross country at a state meet, but Whitmarsh is the UIL 6A state champion in the 800-meter in track.

As a senior, it was Habeck’s last chance to reach state after missing the cut at regionals last year. She finished eighth this year to clinch her spot with a time of 19 minutes, 19 seconds.

“I’m honestly just really excited, just ever since I found out I qualified,” Habeck said. “I’ve been working for this for four years now, and I can’t wait to go out and compete in my last legitimate high school cross country race. One of my friends, Peter Young, has been pushing me throughout this week and he’s helped a lot.”

With only two runners qualifying for state, Habeck and Whitmarsh have been helped by their teammates still running with them in practice.

“We’ve had about 15 to 20 kids still running with us, even after the season, because we like to run at a Nike Invitational a couple weeks after the state meet,” Tummins said. “We’ve had some people go off to other sports like basketball, but overall it really shows how committed they are to the program.”

Whitmarsh finished with a time of 16:23.3, placing 13th in the regional meet in Kate Barr-Ross Park in Huntsville.

Both Brazoswood runners know what to expect at the state meet and are ready to put in their best performance.

“They weren’t at state last year, but we had Leo get to state last year and they saw what it was like watching Leo and Sam going there himself in track as the 800-meter champion,” Tummins said. “They’ll be just fine out there .”

Marqus Williams is a sports writer for The Facts. You can contact him at 979-237-0161.

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