COMMERCE — The Van Alstyne cross country teams beat many personal records at the Commerce Tiger Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 30.

Van Alstyne varsity runner Bryce Sevarino won first place in the Men’s 5,000 meter with a time of 17:04. Daniel Morris took home third place for the Panthers with a time of 18:10. Jenna Leinhart highlighted the Varsity Lady Panther cross country team, earning third place in the women’s 3,200 meter with a time of 12:52 and Emma Morgan ran for sixth place with a time of 13:19.

Ali Cholette and Alyssa Crow took home medals with the seventh and eighth spots, respectively, of the junior varsity girls top ten with Ann Watkins earning spot nine in the middle school girls top ten. Gavin Montgomery and Sergio Castillo earned the seventh and tenth spots, respectively, in the top ten middle school boys runners.

“This is our district course, so it was important to run here to give my new runners a chance to see the course before district which is next week,” Van Alstyne cross country head coach Rachel Sevarino said of the team preparing for district competition. The course did change slightly from last year since it was off last year being a shorter course. This course was completely accurate with girls and middle school running two miles and Varsity Boys running a 5K.”

Sevarino said all the Panther runners in the competition achieved new personal best times.

“My most improved runner this week for girls is Jenna Leinart,” Sevarino said. “All my girls have been working hard to hit under 13, and Jenna ran a 12:52.” Sevarino said the overall most improved runner for Van Alstyne was Marcus Cooper who took off over two minutes with a time of 19:07 at the Commerce meet.

“We have not run the Blue Ridge course before but are using it as a training day; running several miles before we race and after as well,” Sevarino said. The course at Commerce proved to be an excellent fit for the Van Alstyne runners as they look towards taking on runner from rival schools in the district.

“The runners like this course since it has some gently rolling hills and the uphills are pretty gradually except varsity boys ended with a steep uphill in the last 300m,” Sevarino said. The Van Alstyne cross country program has its focus on overcoming runners from schools that have bested the Panthers before.

“Usually, I give my runners fresh legs to run on, meaning less high-intensity workouts before the meet,” Sevarino said, “but we’d rather train hard and have those for fresh legs for regionals to move on to state.”

Since the beginning of the season the Panther cross country program has had its focus on making it to the state-level playoff rounds but must first overcome district rivals.

“Commerce is in our district and beat my varsity boys and Leonard is in our district and beat my varsity girls, so we have our sights on them and Farmersville to beat at district,” stated Sevarino.

The Van Alstyne cross country team has no intentions on taking it easy as they look to the next meet at Blue Ridge on Oct. 5.