S.E. Lady Wolverines Bring Home the Bronze


Trace Goodman

The Lady Wolverines and their medals

Lynnsey Mahler, Writer

They look at the crisp card from Melissa Alvarez and read aloud: “When your legs get tired, run with your heart.” 

The girls look at one another and immediately can tell this trip is going to be one they will remember forever. 

The Springlake Earth Cross-Country team traveled to Round Rock Texas last weekend to compete in the State Cross Country meet and performed at stellar levels. The whole team won third, Taytum Goodman acquired her third State Championship, and Aabriella Villanueva placed 5th as a freshman.  

“The trip was good,” head girls coach Jeri Been Goodman said. “I was concerned it being just me and those 9, but we weren’t even out of Springlake before they were playing card games and connect four.” 

Despite being 4,110 miles away from home, the girls ran into neighbors from Plainview.  

“The first place we went to eat, we saw the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens and they invited us to their game,” Been said.  

After eating, the girls went to K1 Speed Go Carts and had a wonderful time, and then rested in the rooms before the busy day ahead, packed full of Cross-Country traditions and followed by a pasta meal.  

“The next morning, we went to smoothie king and to the outlet mall where we hung out there for three hours,” Junior and three-time Cross Country state champ Taytum Goodman said. “After that, we went and ran the course. All three of those things are traditions I’ve had since freshman year.”  

The girls thought the park was beautiful.  

“We went to go jog the course the day before and I was very entertained by the views,” senior Jenna Bridges said. “Everything was so pretty.” 

Taytum at the State Meet (Jessica Mendoza)

After walking the course, the girls went to take pictures with the Wall of Champions, a big monument to all the Cross-Country stars of Texas, including S.E.’s very own Taytum Goodman.  

“I got to go up there, get up on the rocks, and see it for the first time,” Goodman said. “My name was up there twice because I’ve won twice, and now it will be three times which is special.” 

Afterward, the Lady Wolverines took up the invitation from the Flying Queens to go watch their game. 

 “We went to the Texas versus Wayland basketball game in the brand-new gym at Texas, and that was really cool because it was the first game ever played in there and we were a part of it,” Goodman said.  

They ended the day with a pasta meal and heavy reflections on the State Meet.  

“We ate at Carnino’s which was good, and we had fun there laughing and joking,” Goodman said. “After the restaurant, we went to the hotel and tried to get our minds serious about running the next day.” 

The privilege of running at the state meet is one the girls worked hard for.  

“I had all confidence that these girls were going to be the group to go to state,” said Parent Jennifer Samaron. “They have all worked so far this season, improving their times every meet, and as I watched them all run at Mae Simmons, I could see the determination in all of them.” 

Samaron’s own daughter Emma placed 26th at the state meet, standing true to a legacy set by her father and her brother, and is an example of how much dedication these girls showed to get up on that podium

“Emma gets up every morning at 5 a.m. for her morning run, then on to school, then her other extra-curricular activity practices, then home for late night homework, just to get up and do it again and that is a testament to her strength and dedication,” Samaron said. “To see two of my children carry on that legacy is truly a blessing and I hope my other two girls continue on with it, because, their father, brother, and now sister will be there to push them.” 

Unlike Jennifer Samaron, Coach Been was nervous on the day of regionals but had belief and pride in her girls.  

“I thought we could do it but it’s always scary,” Been said. “I was nervous, Emma being sick that morning and everything, but I had high hopes and I thought we had a great chance at being top four, but winning regionals was a shock, it was good.” 

Back to the state meet, after Coach Been’s pep talk the girls incidentally set a goal to have their names hanging up in a testament of history in the high school gym. 

“When we got there and looked at the course, I told them they were the best of the best no matter what happened,” Been said. “They wanted one of those signs in the gym and I told them they had to get first, second, or third, and that’s what they did.” 

The Lady Wolverines After Placing Third (Jessica Mendoza)

That morning, the girls had mixed feeling about the race but more than anything, they were ready to run

“We got up early and were in a rush to get the bus loaded and get our minds on our business to go to the park,” Goodman said. “We got there and started stretching, I know a lot of the girls had never but that’s okay because when we finally got to go out and get on the line, everything changed.” 

In fact, the girls were rearing to run.  

“When you get out there, you’re ready to go and you’re ready to see what happens,” Goodman said. “We took off and from then on it was a race.” 

Despite being the only freshman running on the team, Aabriella Villanueva shared Goodman’s ideology. 

“I was so excited to run that course,” Villanueva said. “I was like it’s go time; I need to get my head in the game and no outside distractions.” 

Several things go through a person’s head in the time span it takes to run two miles.  

“I was just telling myself keep pushing, you’re doing good, don’t let anyone catch you, and pass as many girls you can.” sophomore Aryca Ibara said.  

There are also several different strategies to keep in mind.  

“I just try to catch the people in front of me,” Sophomore Rylie Furr said. “I just think about the people waiting at the finish line for me and the rest of the team and I’m like you’ve got to keep going.” 

Aabriella running Cross Country (Sydney Furr)

Villanueva’s method is to gauge her distance from Goodman so she can keep pace.  

“I look at my distance from her because I can’t be too far, but I also can’t start off too close because then I’ll die off,” Villanueva said. “I’m just thinking I need to catch this person and don’t let the person behind me catch me.” 

Villanueva’s method worked very well because despite being sixth at regionals, she took fifth at state. 

“To get up there and get fifth at state she ran really hard,” Been said. “She was second behind Taytum for the first mile and to be able to hang on to it, she did really good.” 

Villanueva’s sister Isabella Gonzales was ecstatic about her sister’s accomplishments.  

“I was very excited, and it was good seeing her place 5th as a freshman,” Junior Isabella Gonzales said.  

Gonzales runs on JV cross country and was very proud of her teammates as well for their accomplishments.  

I knew they were going to do good, but I didn’t think they were going to get top three because it’s really hard and there’s a lot of girls, so they did really good,” Gonzales said. 

The girl’s big strides were very noticeable as they went from the bottom of the pack to bronze medalists. 

“We came really far,” Furr said. “At the beginning, we weren’t even ranked in regionals or anything, and then to get 3rd at state was just like a big woah moment.” 

Again, Jennifer Samaron had no doubt the team would pull through.  

“We knew they could do it; the girls just needed confidence in themselves and they did that,” Samaron said. “I was one proud parent/supporter of these girls, and to see the smile on their faces when they got up on that podium to receive their medals was priceless so I’m glad I got to be there.” 

Including the team placing third, Emma Samaron placing 26th, and Aabriella Villanueva placing 5th, Taytum Goodman won her third state championship in cross country and broke a third U.I.L. record. 

“I broke a U.I.L. record in history from all classifications the longest distance between first and second place, and that was really cool to me,” Goodman said.  

The day was full of accomplishments but the girls being honored on that podium marks a special point in time.  

“The coolest part of that day was seeing all of the girls go up there on that stand and get their third-place medals,” Gonzales said. “They made history that day.” 

The Lady Wolverine’s Hanging out on the Bus (Emma Samaron)

Jenna Bridges is the only senior on the team and has good sentiments from the year.  

“This year was fun,” Bridges said. “I feel like we all bonded as a team, and I think this trip really helped them so they will be a better team next year.” 

All in all, the team had a great run and everyone is ready to see what they will do next.  

“It was the trip of a lifetime,” said Been. “Everybody competed hard, ran some of their fastest times on the biggest stage there is and that’s the place to do it.”