Duo key in Clear Lakes' run
Juniors Luke Romanko and John Weldon are determined to lead Clear Lake to an 11th straight District 24-5A championship and beyond.
"I missed district and state last year because of an injury (stress fracture), so that makes me even more hungry," Romanko said. "I tried to run at regionals, but it wasn't good, and I'm ready to do well this season at district and regionals, and hopefully state."
Romanko took top individual honors at the season-opening La Porte Meet where Clear Lake took second as a team, and he and the Falcons won their division at the Rice University Invitational a couple of weeks later.
Weldon finished third and in front of the fifth-place Romanko for team champion Clear Lake at the Falcons' own meet last week in Seabrook, and Weldon (16:17.52) and Romanko (16:08.15) were the only Falcons in the 16s at the Round Rock McNeil state preview event earlier this month.
"The team ran much closer times at our meet, and we're running very well as a team in practice and at meets," Weldon said.
Weldon added that he was too slow to make his junior high team, and he almost didn't get into the Falcons' program as a freshman.
"I've set goals and trained very hard over the past couple of summers," he said. "I've followed the coach's training plan very strictly, and the hard work is paying off. I'm happy with how I'm doing and I feel like I can do better."
Clear Lake has only one senior, Franklin Stagg, among a top seven that's completed by juniors Christian Williams, Jeremiah Santos, Zach Daum and Michael Lis.
Williams and Santos ran on last year's state squad.
"We're not a one-pony team," Clear Lake coach Mark Horton said. "Everyone contributes, and it's usually a different top five every week.
"Romanko has been our consistent No. 1 all season, but Weldon has emerged and is challenging for the top spot, and they've helped each other, and the team, improve.
"Weldon is a great example of what can happen through hard work and determination, and his improvement is just a great story."
The Falcons edged Brazoswood by five points for the district championship a year ago, and Clear Lake beat Brazoswood by eight in September.
"The level of competition in district has greatly improved the last couple of years," Horton said. "Brazoswood is right behind us, and Clear Brook has a well-round team and one of the district's top runners in Taylor Barrera, and Clear Springs continues to get better, and they have a great individual guy in Mark Fernando.
"It's going to be very interesting, and even more significant is to see if we can get a third straight trip to state at regionals."
The Falcons are through with the regular season and will have team mile time trials on Friday while preparing for the 24-5A Meet on Oct. 28 at Resoft Park in Alvin.
"Our guys know that every year we have a target on our backs at district, and they don't want to be the ones to break the streak," Horton said, "and even though we're a young team the goal is to make it to state, and to get there, we have to run great as a team.
"If there's more than a 35-second gap between our No. 1 and 5 runners, we might be hurting."
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