VICTORIA — This is the time of the season that Red Devil cross country coach Vince DeGrado has been pointing to all season and he feels that at least one of his squads is ready for the bright lights of the conference meet in three weeks.
“I’m OK with three weeks off,” DeGrado said. “A lot of teams wouldn’t like it, but with the work we can do in that time it is good. You will see a whole different team in three weeks… The other coaches know it, too. I got that look from them of, ‘Here they come again.’”
The Red Devil men dominated the Tiger Open in Victoria on Saturday taking first as a team with 60 points while the next closest teams were Cowley County Community College and Trinidad State Junior College with 136 points each.
“For the first 2 miles, I was a little mad, because I didn’t think they were running well, but that is an easy fix and I have a good idea why it happened,” DeGrado said. “The second half, they got moving and really accelerated.”
The team was able to dominate even without star sophomore Ricardo Banuelos running in the ‘college’ race. DeGrado chose to push his team’s leader and have him run in the ‘university’ race.
“I wanted us to learn not to depend on Ricardo and run as a team and that way the team will do a lot better,” DeGrado said. “We had some guys step up and that is what you want to see. We’ve got three weeks to get some more gears and with six weeks left I’m ok with that because it will be a quick fix to add some speed, but if you don’t have strength that would be a problem.”
Banuelos took 25th in that race with a 24:59.1; a time that would have earned him second in the ‘college’ race and put further distance between Allen and the rest of the field.
The team had two runners that will prove to be very important in three weeks leading the way. Phillip Lagemann and Anthony Glasgow finished fourth and fifth. Paul Becker was the next finisher in 20th with Obed Quintana taking 23rd.
“I was going to redshirt (Glasgow) because he came in with an injury, but he has running in practice,” DeGrado said. “I wouldn’t waste his season, if I didn’t think he was going to make an impact.”
Jesus Gutierrez rounded out the team scoring in 32nd.
Other Allen finishers were: Ludreche Bouanga in 34th, Alejandro Ruiz in 42nd, Ben Lucier in 44th and Ryan Yarde in 64th.
“I think we are underrated,” DeGrado said. “There are some people overlooking us and that is fine. We aren’t flashy.”
The race included 186 runners.
The women’s team is where DeGrado has some concern entering the lead-up to the postseason meets.
The Red Devils took fourth, but they too were without their top runner, Kaitlyn Shoemaker, who ran in the ‘university’ race and took 30th with an 18:03.4. That time would have been good for second in the ‘college race’ and would have put the Red Devils in first.
“In theory I’d like to win, but I entered (Shoemaker) in the ‘university’ race on purpose, because I wanted some of our girls to step up,” DeGrado said. “You have a tendency to step up when you are missing someone.”
DeGrado’s concern isn’t with his team’s current performance, however, it is with health. Several Red Devils are nursing injuries including top freshman Abby Stienhauser.
“Our women are banged up, but I think a lot of teams are,” DeGrado said. “We aren’t the favorite going into (the conference meet).”
Despite that, Stienhauser was strong in the Tiger Open with a 10th-place time.
“We are trying to figure out how to work with her injury,” DeGrado said. “We have three weeks.”
Sophomore Vicky Ibarra has been growing stronger all season and showed that with a eight-place showing.
“Vicky stepped up huge,” DeGrado said. “Her race was big time for us. That is what we are going to have to do if we are going to win (at the conference meet).”
Other Allen finishers were: Kristina Silvers in 27th, Hannah Johnson in 42nd, Jessica Reese in 51st, Maria Puenta in 62nd, Gemma Gonzalez in 82nd, Kim Rodriguez in 37th, Jaelyn Casanova in 129th and Ciera Bennett in 131st.
“Kristina has battled some injuries and she is coming on,” DeGrado said. “She will be ready in three weeks.”
The race included 165 runners.
The Allen women’s team wore pink uniforms at the meet to raise awareness for breast cancer.
Baneulos ran the second fastest 8K for an Allen runner ever and Shoemaker broke her own school-record.
“I still think Ricardo has a lot more in him,” DeGrado said.
RED DEVIL WEEKEND
Lincoln Land Community College 3, Allen 0
Kankakee Community College 3, Allen 0
Sauk Valley Community College 3, Allen 0
Kansas City Kansas Community College 6, Allen 0
Allen 5, Kansas City Kansas Community College 0
Goals — Leigh-Anne Bartlett 3, Ira Taylor 2
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