Cove sophomore Honea, senior Reynolds advance to UIL Region I Cross Country meet

By TJ MAXWELL
Cove Leader-Press

WACO - Running has always come naturally for Copperas Cove sophomore Madisen “MJ” Honea and it didn’t hurt to have a cross country coach for a mother either.
That’s why it was no surprise Thursday morning when Honea, along with senior teammate Mariyah Reynolds, punched their tickets to the Region I Cross Country Meet at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock with a pair of top seven finishes during the District 8-6A meet at the Heart of Texas Soccer Complex in Waco.
“Mariyah and MJ have been consistent all year,” said Copperas Cove head girls’ cross country coach Eldridge McAdams. “We knew what they were going to bring and we are definitely excited for them.”
Honea has been banged up much of the season but that didn’t stop her from taking the fifth-place finish and spot in the Region I field with her personal best time of 19 minutes, 22.08 seconds.
“I feel I did pretty well today,” said Honea. “I’ve been going with a hurt leg for a while and it has been rough trying to recover from that, but I thought it was a good race and I felt good while I was running.”
Honea trains along with the team but also adds in some extra work with her mother Tracy Honea, who coaches the Copperas Cove Junior High cross country team.
“It’s pretty good,” Honea said of having a coach for a mom. “She makes me go run on my own to get extra work in so I will be used to running three miles. We train to get used to the pace, the hills and everything. We concentrate on every little thing to get better.
“Running just relaxes me. After school when I get home and have nothing to do, my mom will be like, ‘go for a run’ and I don’t second-guess it. I always want to get better if you’re going to do it in the first place.”
Reynolds finished 30 seconds back in seventh place with a time of 19:52.77 to earn her spot in Lubbock.
“Mariyah has been running well too. She was kind of a diamond in the rough last year. She also made the top 10 last year.
Reynolds didn’t start out as a long distance runner but she’s definitely earned that title now.
“It takes a lot,” Reynolds said of the mentally strength it takes to compete in long distances. “I wasn’t really cross-country runner at first. Coach (McAdams) has all the basketball girls run one meet. In that one meet, I did really well and got first. I went to another and finished first. That’s when he moved me up to varsity.”
Reynolds and Honea follow in the footsteps of long-distance standout Amber Boyd and have tried to emulate her.
“She helped my so much,” Honea said of Boyd. “I’ve always said I wanted to be like her when I ran cross-country. She has helped me a lot.”
Reynolds looks up to them both.
“They’ve just both inspired me a lot,” she said. “Whenever, I’m running, I always looks for MJ to make sure I keep her in my sight so I know I’m in a good place.”
Freshman Jalyn Ayala also had an impressive debut with a time of 21:09.73 to claim third for the team and 23rd overall. 
“It was her first time to run and she did well,” McAdams said about Ayala. “We’ve got a pretty good core coming back and we’re excited.” 
Also helping the Lady Dawgs to their fourth place finish were Juyah Robinson (29th - 21:38.63), Danielle Diaz (39th - 23:05.05), Stefani Vassar (40th - 23:09.28) and Ariana Wilson (46th - 28:18.31).
Belton won with a combined one hour, 38 minutes and 13.61 seconds while Cove combined for 1:45:08.26.
McAdams is hopeful for the future with Honea leading the pack.
“It’s hard to replace a runner like Amber Boyd but then you have a sophomore like MJ,” he said. “She’s been fighting a lot of battles this year health-wise but she competes every time she gets out. She ran one of her best times today and I’m very proud. 
“One thing about MJ is she definitely works hard and she’s going to continue to get better. She wasn’t really satisfied with today. She thought she could’ve done better. That’s just the way she competes.”
Micah Sedilo led the junior varsity girls with a 10th-place finish and time of 22:11.01 followed by Destini Spruill (27th - 23:15.06), Katelyn Borego (47th - 24:06.84), Jaciera Glass-Fraser (72nd - 25:28.71) and Lesly Mendoza (101st - 26:07.56).
Tristan Reno finished 31st to lead the Copperas Cove boys’ team to a seventh-place finish. He finished with a time of 17:46.55 followed by Neyland Block (41st - 19:17.67), Ray Barros (42nd - 19:20.37), Tyrese Cooley (43rd - 19:52.33), Amari Johnson (46th - 20:12.55), Justus Honea (47th - 20:22.72 and Deandre McKinnis (48th - 21:51.51).
Romeo Anthony led the junior varsity boys with a 13th-place finish and time of 18:15.91. Evan Thomas finished 29    th with a time of 19:19.74, followed by Noah Quinn (32nd - 20:35.64), Isaiah Mosley (36th - 21:03.94), Jamison Glass-Fraser (38th - 21:20.41), Joshua Gurrerio (41st - 22:24.22) and Isaiah Sobers (42nd - 22:57.84). 

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