The Cougar harriers headed north on September 23, taking a step up in class to race at the Brenham Hillacious Invitational. The course, widely-recognized as one of the tougher routes in the state, also featured some of the top teams from the greater Houston area split across two divisions.
Included on the start list was the top-ranked team in the state, The Woodlands HS, along with #4 ranked College Park, perennial state meet qualifiers Strake Jesuit from the 6A ranks – plus other top-notch smaller schools, including 3A East Bernard. The Brahmas girls are the top 3A team in the Lone Star State, while the boys are led by a couple of sophomores who helped their team qualify for state in 2016.
The varsity boys were led once again by their 1-2 punch of freshman Brandon Phegley and junior Stephen Slage. Phegley covered the hilly 5000 meter (3.1-mile) course, that also included a couple of sections where the runners had to jump over hay bales, in 18 minutes and 54 seconds. That was good for 52nd place overall (48th in the team scoring), while Slage crossed the line in 69th (64th in team scoring) with a time of 19:13.
The remaining scoring members were Matthew Anderson (20:07, 124th overall), Jason Granados (22:32, 179th) and Jonah Luke (23:30, 191st).
The varsity boys finished 21st overall in the team scoring of the Division II race, which was won by Langham Creek. Alex de la Maza of Frazzati Catholic was the individual winner in 16:30.
For the second day in a row (the Coogs raced in the Runnin’ Texans Invite a scant 24 hours before Saturday’s races), Iman Ahmed was the top female finisher for the Coogs. Ahmed started slowly, but gained strength along the way, as she moved up almost 70 places in the final mile to finish 87th overall. She was timed in 14:48 over the two-mile course. Helen Wu sliced 16 seconds off her time the day before (again, over a much tougher course on Saturday) to finish about a minute behind Ahmed in 15:50. Dua Sayeed (15:53) and Mariela Hernandez (15:55) were just steps behind.
Francis Ogbonna once again led the JV boys, finishing in 21:26 – good for 146th place.
The Coogs will host their lone home meet of the 2017 campaign on Thursday, September 28, at the Cougar Classic. The meet will be held at Imperial Park and more than 40 high schools are entered.