PNG runners setting pace as district meet nears

Published 12:10 am Friday, September 30, 2022

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The Port Neches-Groves cross country team is hitting its stride as the regular season comes to a close.

Head Coach Josh Tanner and the team leaders said the team feels sharp with two more meets before the district meet next month.

“It has progressed really well this year,” Tanner said. “We are still trying to dial in our top-seven runners for the district meet with Barbers Hill and Huffman. It is coming down to those two meets on the girls and guys sides.”

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Tanner said the large turnout has created more competition than in years past. Recently, the team has had between 15-20 runners. This year, the roster has ballooned to approximately 30.

“We are trying to be in a position to beat Barbers Hill,” Tanner said. “They snuck in and beat us at district last year. We are trying to do what we can to not let that happen again.”

Senior Landon Proenza leads the boys side, and setting the tone with his work ethic. Tanner said Proenza is the hardest working male athlete in the entire school.

“I think the season has gone better than last year,” Proenza said. “We are better as a team and run around the same. We are all pushing each other to be better this year.”

Proenza said his main goal is to make it to regionals.

As a freshman, Katherine Page made it to state and was the leading runner on the girls’ side for two seasons. As a junior, she is trying to keep up with freshman Morgan Campbell.

The changing of the guard is sparking a friendly competition.

“It has been in between,” Page said. “I am excited for (Campbell) and I am ready to see her progress. She has grabbed the spotlight from me and that is okay, because I am going to grow in the dark.”

Campbell said she has been pleasantly surprised with her performance.

“Honestly, it is very surprising,” she said. “It shocked me a little. It has become more of a sport I like to do and I want to get better at it.”

She added she has her sights set on a state appearance.

“She is very fast,” Tanner said of Campbell. “That is the best way to describe her. She makes running look easy. Having Morgan is pushing Katherine to run even harder. Iron sharpens iron within the team, and it is good. It is making us stronger.”

The runners participate in the Soaring Eagle Invitational at Barbers Hill Saturday.

PNG wraps up the season at the Lake Houston Invitational at Huffman High School Oct. 6.

The district meet is at Gentry Middle School in Baytown Oct. 24.