It's a lot easier for Jordan Mathis to run fast when she thinking happy thoughts.
With a new mindset of positive thinking, the Vandegrift junior set a new personal best of 17:52.0 at the Cedar Park Cross Country Invitational on Saturday morning as the Vipers won both the girls' and boys' team competitions.
"I knew the conditions weren't going to ideal because we pre-ran the course and it was really muddy," Mathis said. "But I was still hoping to go out and race as good as I could. Overall, our team has a really close bond. That makes training a lot of fun, which makes the meets a lot more enjoyable."
Three of the top five finishers in the girls' race were Vandegrift runners, with Emma Saia (18:25.5) finishing 4th and Taylor Mathis - Jordan's younger sister - finishing 5th with a time of 18:34.3. Sophomore Gemma Goddard (19:24.0) finished 11th and junior Maggie McElmurry (19:54.0) took home 13th place.
Vandegrift junior Anthony Monte dominated the boys' race, finishing with a time of 15:02.3, nearly 30 seconds faster than the second place finisher.
Sam Wells (16:22.8) was the next highest finisher for the Vipers with his 16th place finish. Ryan Morreale (16:24.9) finished in 20th while Nick Schorn (16:28.6) and Noah Dennis (16:29.8) finished in23rd and 24th, respectively.
Monte said the wet and muddy condition forced him to mentally prepare himself more even though he was well in front of the rest of the field for most of the race.
"This time around, the bike was right there and I kept telling myself, ‘You're already (ahead) so why not keep going," Monte said. "I would like to get another PR by the end of the season, we're not that far in. But the big goal is a Top 10 at state."
Vista Ridge senior Nick Alfaro also set a personal best of 15:27.0, good for second in the boys' race.
"My training has improved," Alfaro said. "I've gotten more miles in and I've been training at faster paces. I want to make it to state. Last year during district, I was tripped and I didn't make it to regionals, but this year I'm going to come back if that does happen again."
The hosts from Cedar Park finished 2nd in the girls' team completion and 3rd overall in the boys' classification.
Gracie Hall (19:00.1) paced the Timberwolves' girls' team with a 9th place finish. Sophia Roach (19:34.3) finished 14th, Samantha Pettey (20:17.2) finished 23rd, Alexa Yeager (20:38.3) took home 33rd and Juliana Lozano (20:47.7) came in 41st place.
For the Cedar Park boys, junior Owen Daugherty finished 8th overall with a time of 15:54.4. Austin Grendel (16:15.6) finished 13th, John Scott (16:31.9) finished 25th, Alden Yi (16:38.9) came in 33rd place and Ethan Weiland (16:41.8) took home 34th place.
"We're a work in progress," Cedar Park head coach Jason Grennier said. "I thought we ran better earlier in the year. It's just that time of year when you're running high mileage and you're going to have stuff that bothers you. I wouldn't say I'm happy, but I'm not disappointed."