Book 2 Chapter 5 Section 4 Tales of Dead Armadillo Novel By Esteban Erik Stipnieks



Dual meets always were peculiar in the fact they that they were more like intramurals the crowds were smaller and the race itself tended to be more of a workout you did your best to run your best time but the bottom line was they were hardly the major events of a Saturday but they were for bragging rights.  So Wednesday night oddly enough was a surprisingly common night for the Athletes of New Braunfels Crosscountry.  Dennis's stress fracture was slowly healing but he was told one more week.  Paul's knee was shot for the season.  One more meet another letter by fluke.  Coach Bob had been handed a radio scanner for him to monitor.  It had been a gift a few years before but his mother insisted the coaching staff have one.  Stephen explained how it would work.  It was tuned to a single frequency already.  Stephen explained briefly its use and explained to him the return leg.  He gave the call sign of the airplane and what it would sound like in a radio call.  Stephen had every intention of filing a flight plan on the to leg but the return leg would be different.  Stephen marked the route of the flight and possible points.  He wanted both legs to be monitored.  

The day of the meet power bars were packed and eaten Gatorade and exceed found its way into lockers.  The team had their T-shirts with their nicknames on and Blue Air Pegasus adorned their feet. Since this was dual meet and not a standard spirit day the pirates dressed a like and hung out together eating lunch and trying to relax.  Tom suddenly found himself caring more about the outcome.  There were rituals many based on exercise science that were carried out through the while classes were attended to.  The Supreme Irony was the flight going over to the meet required more effort and timing then the wait for the bus ride. 

Tom boarded the bus after school.  It was parked behind the dressing room.  He had music for the ride to Kerrville.  It was little more then 2 hours.  At the end of this meet there would be 4 meets including district.  The bus was heading up the Edwards Plateau upstream to a place further up on the Guadalupe.  He had accomplished what he wanted to on the team.  He could feel it though a sense of urgency write your name in the sky or else seemed to be theme.  They could either win or lose this meet that simple.  It was a speed workout yes but winning was always better then losing.   As the bus took off he realized what Senioritis was.  He looked at Serg one last time Amigo he said.  Serg nodded.  They did though still have a shot at district.  Serg said, “If we can hold it together maybe regionals.”  Tom smiled and replied, “Yeah imagine the guys going to regionals for once.”  Amanda Cook heard the line and said "Yeah it would be nice to have some male teammates and the guys going to regionals as well I would sure like some guys to cheer on at UTSA."  They went back to the music. 

Tara was sitting near Kimber.  They both were doing homework using the dead time to get some sleep.  Their was some anticipation about what was to happen at six that night.  Coach Noel turned on the scanner and heard  Stephen make a radio call he had departed New Braunfels and was leaving the traffic area west bound.  The bus was just past Guadalupe River state park at the time.  Amanda had done the last bit of homework as the bus turned onto interstate 10.  Amanda processed things and realized who was behind the the real talk of first at district for the boys.  They were about to find out that following the river actually took less time to Schreiner.  Traditions were changed.  She could see why.  The line between innocence and naiveté New Braunfels had crossed.  The world she was seeing was not safe not under control.  There was relentlessness to Tara and even Kimber.  Stephen (Ace) embodied the complete wild side but at church he seemed oddly at ease taking things in learning.  Their was an eagerness and passion in church.  There was also a distinct calm tone.  Coach Noel Scott had the same focus in his life under control passionate at his core incredibly strong.  Word had drifted of the discreet allegations he had made against his mother.  Tara had been quiet about sharing them.  Amanda was putting the pieces together.  There were things Scott would not condone and he seemed even to have some disappointment to the way Stephen reacted at the fair parade but he kept it hidden.  The loyalty of Tara, Julie, Kimber Noel Scott and Ace could not be doubted.  It was just a bit out of control.  The boys were looking more and more like district glory was a goal.  Amanda was not privy to the fact that three guys who had normally drank and gotten drunk had stopped.  Coach Bob had groused in the past.  Coach Bob was in surprising good spirit despite the loss of three runners.  She had heard of how Ace had seen the foot race on one Pit Stop and had how he had dealth with Steven Ray.  The team had out and out turned on alien members who did not display work ethic.  Ace the first workout of the year ripped the team for this practice.  Steven Ray had cut up Walnut he had been verbally slashed with Ace's Katana then gently restored.  Ace could be by far the most sarcastic member of the team.  (That was an accomplishment all of its own) It was oddly enough like the assistant principal who Stephen quipped about the double standard.  That irony was actually funny.  The more she thought about it. 

Stephen called Kerrville Unicom, As the bus was IH-10 the airplane was overhead.  not realizing  his crosscountry coach was listening on the scanner, “I’m going to be here for a couple hours just a tie down while I help my teammates smoke Tivy venison at Schreiner.”  Joey who had been the manager responded “That will be $3 if Tivy loses the dual meet and 10 cents a gallon more on the 100LL.”  Stephen got the airport advisory Runway 12 was the runway favored by the winds.  Stephen did a close in pattern 1000 AGL and the only thing going closer was a Cessna 150.  He landed and taxied to Kerrville aviation.  Joey handled the tiedown.  He saw the warm ups of a runner.  The school bus arrived.   

The bus drove the Athletic center parking lot parking right besides a school bus from Kerrville ISD.  Coach Bob took the center of the bus and said "Take this meet somewhat seriously you will not have time to walk the course for some of you that will not be a problem.  The others you have adapted to our runs so you can handle it.  Run smart run hard have fun.  French Fries and  Tara get the Exceed."

Tara went with Aero to the back of the bus and emergency exit door was opened and the 5 gallon container was taken.  She was physically stronger of the two.  They carried the bucket around the side of a pavilion metal building to near the starting line the race.  They guys would have a few minutes to warm up and prepare for their race the girls would run last.  French Fries was nervous Tara quipped relax.   

The decision not to take music was not regretted.  Stephen could feel an intensity powering on.  Tom looked his direction two shared a sentence.  Bo could see and quipped along with Serg we are having a senior moment.  Raul and Aero seemed surprised.  Micheal and Thomas said I hope we are that way when we are seniors.  Tom replied "Don't worry you will be."  Aero snickered.  They headed to the start line a diagonal line behind the art center.  The area had hard markers for drives off a T-box.  Raul seemed surprised at how quickly the mood turned business like. 

Raul was told simply follow the markings.  Bo knew the course and as Raul got nervous Bo quipped relax I will shout directions if you start getting lost.  Raul went to the box as he finished his warm up with the team he heard the instructions.  His plan was simple accelerate to fast cruise and stay there till the face was finished and finish first.  The gun went off his cut legs propelled him quickly and he was at the lead of the pack.  He made the turn shrugging some speed off on the process as it swung past 135 degrees.  It was a leg to a base of right triangle.  Raul was now looking at 150 yard straight away.  He was in the lead Coach Noel Scott was cheering him on.  He made a gentler 90 maintaining speed and then accelerated by a narrow ditch that went by the fence line and crossing the campus Loop at Schriener.  The course followed it.  The course went behind a house a big open field near the border of the school.  The course hugged the fence line crossing a small street to the back gate of the campus.  Raul was learning about energy management his talent had been formidable yet he was beginning to get a feel for control he had taken advantage of the gradual downhill.  He cut some turns a bit too tight.  Its was a fast first mile.  He was learning to be smoother on the race line.  He cut the turn near the creek hard.  The fact even though he was considered the desert rat the cooler air felt nice.  The course ran by the creek for 80 yards then it angled  up to a Pavilion the arrow was marked with Chalk.  As a Unicorn he was no more hilljack then a Tivy Antler.  He knew it.  It was hard not to run any distance in Kerrville without an elevation shift.  Then around the pavilion it dropped again to resume its course by a creek. 

(contact sheet Quinlean Creek  course would be off to viewers left)

 He crossed a bridge  the course went back up after a fairly hard right hand turn then a gentler half loop.  Raul did not build up too much speed and then he made the climbing right turn like a bloated half loop.  The loop ended at the bridge and there was another semi circular area.  More form was put into play.  Raul was still huffing a little beyond the lactic acid threshold the turn by the trailers was marked.  There was a short jig then back up hill.  Raul was still in the lead but he her could hear foot steps behind him.  He accelerated hard  The course crossed the road and it was just beyond a line of houses that professors lived in campus.  He knew it was that it was time to accelerate hard.  The course cross the other side of the loop and the long arrow marked where he was supposed to go he was now in the final quarter mile he could see the finish line head as a turn.  Raul turned it on full force the sweat soaked uniform more clingly. He turned it on all the way he girls were cheering him on he could hear Bo and French fries were right behind him.

For Stephen the course was another point of humiliation in his run.  This was for someone who would always be 17.   At the start Stephen saw Raul Bo and Aero take off.  He was not too upset about Steven Ray and Thomas ahead of him.   The race was 200 yards calm control.  Coach Noel was shouting  "Stay aggressive Stephen.”  He was middle of the pack he could see some Tivy runners trying to catch Raul up front he wondered if he would pick them off later.  This course was remembered with hatred when he made the turn through 135 degrees to a back stretch for a side stitch that came early and worked its way around him like a constriction belt.  As he made the turn things were going to plan.  He made the way along the path of cedars near the far fence line.  Controlled aggression the 20 minute flight had set him in the mood for it.  Just a whisker over the lactic acid threshold the first time The course followed down around energy management through the next turn and down by the creek. He made a couple passes on a couple runners from Tivy high and he set his sights on Steven Ray ahead.  He was skittish for memories the two side stitches were live at this point.  The stride stitches had not appeared....yet.  Coach Bob was shouting out whets wrong Stephen chickening out!  It was rare criticisms.  The first mile had been finished little further into the lactic acid threshold.  Thomas was coming into sight and two Tivy runners he could see the remnants what would be their varsity team.  It was though valid so with just a touch of finesses a surge began.  He did not gain too much on the hill but he did gain on Thomas and Mike was in sight.  As he went down again he passed Mike and down hard on the hill he carried momentum through a turn putting stress on the knee something Stephen rarely did to make the pass on the Kerrville runner.  He played it out made the pass on the bridge  and then he took the outside of the course caring speed through the down hill and it died on the upstream section of the creek.  Stephen chugged around the bloated half loop putting ground behind him He sighted another one and the chase was on.  He went right left small straightaway another left then long straight away.  Slowly he was gaining ground.  He had still find time to bike so the up hill stretch played out Stephen was feeling just a bit bolder made the pass before the path crossed.  He could feel terror knowing the hunter was no longer the hunted.  The course angled around the final 200 yards Stephen knew he would have to hold it 100 yard sprint for double the distance the pass was now back on level which was tighter he made the turn to the chute harder he was fighting them off praying for extra speed or that the final 100 yards of the course would disappear before they could did just barely.  Yeah this was a perfect run but tears were in his eyes as some Exceed left his stomach.  For you he said remembering a friend. 

Tom took off he saw French Fries(Aero), bet passed quickly by Raul and Bo joined them up at the front of the pack before the first turn.  Tom was running at a good clip and he set up a hard soccer turn on the extreme first turn.  There were some Tivy runners about five ahead of him but they had taken off hard probably a bit too hard to keep up the lead three Unicorns....they were going to be in pay later.  The back fence and turn of the big open the cooler air did feel nice.  It was down the saw toothed fence line on the backside of campus.  Yes he did have some lactic acid in his legs but he was not in bad shape.  He was going to run his course.  The course made its way near a creek.  Tom had run this course before and had cut his own lines familar lines and was actually gaining some on the two of those that had taken off were fading.  Tivy runners through the first mile.  As he made the turn he decided to set the pass up before the Robin Lewis Pavilion.  He darted to the outside along the banks of Quinlean Creek and he made the pass as the he could see they were tiring his massive body made it up the hill by the pavilion and as he swung by it he could hear Noel Scott "Way to take that hill with strength Tom keep it up."  The mass of Tom made it easier on the back side of the hill crossing a concrete bridge for another section of the course upstream on Quinlean creek and then around.  He was tiring but he was still feeling strong.  The loop on other side by the storage trailers was a series of small straights then a massive turn up hill.  There were still three runners from Tivy ahead.  He attempted to gain on them on the long straight away from creek area and back to the large field that dominated the other side of campus yet the ground he was making was not coming fast enough.  The course had a hard jig Tom could hear someone behind him.  He was near his limits of speed.  He was going to get passed.  Coach Bob was shouting Go Tom he saw the chute coming ahead as he crossed the field and made the turn to it.  Tom was pushing himself he was trying to hold off the pass....he could not. It was a runner from Tivy.  Tom's legs were afire as he crossed the finish line.

(Winter time contact sheet black and white photos Quinlean Creek Schreiner  Esteban Erik Stipnieks all rights reserved)   

Anna maintained her sense of humor she was warming up with the girls as the guys ran.  She decided to keep it clean.  Kimber was behind her.  Tara and Kathrine were a bit similar Kathrine being the liberal version of Tara the Jesusfreak.  Kimber had been becoming a bit more vocal.  She had backed up Stephen when Special had been busted.  She watched Tara, Amanda and Linda interact.  The triumvirate of the girl’s team had become that the team had been her freshman year odd relationships of people who normally would never see eye to eye on anything.  Linda, Tara and Amanda were as different as you can get.  Anna still was the joker of the group.  She was also competitive streak. 

The girls received their starting instructions Anna was besides Kimber.  The gun went off.  She was stout and she could blast forward quickly if she wanted to.  She at this point knew better.  She was in the middle of the pack.  She was relaxed as the start progressed thank God the race would not need a restart.  Her short frame allowed her to make the 135 degree turn.  She did not kill off any speed in the process and ran a harder line.  She was being aggressive maintaining her position in the middle of the pack.  The saw tooth continued after a decent sized straight away there was another left turn.  She saw a Tivy runner she made the pass by extending the course just a bit and making the pass on the outside.  There was another reasonably long and straight section of course.  She had cut it just beyond the lactic acid threshold.  She knew her role do not be stupid and take a pass when she could.  She was relaxed she made the next turn that would go by the creek.  A Tivy runner was coming into view.  She saw the girl’s longer legs that would make her easier to pass on the hill.  She exploded up the hill and made the pass she then using her stockier mass made for a stronger pull away from the hill paying the cost in lactic acid as the girls course stayed on one side of the creek.  She followed the course down stream beside the slightly flowing creek.  The trailers brought a turn a short chute another turn then long straight away back up hill.  Anna was soaked with sweat yet she saw another runner ahead from Tivy she opened up it and started gaining less then half a mile to go.  She made progress yet as they got closer to the finish line the girl surged away and ahead.  Anna would not get the pass she crossed the last street that would lead to the field.  She saw the chute unable to catch she was still driving hard hearing footsteps behind finally she crossed the finish line.  Anna was handed a cool cup of Exceed by Stephen Ray.  Allison was behind her and congratulated her on a good run. 

Linda had warmed up.  She had talent her brother irritated her by wasting some of his.  She and Amanda were the stars of the team.  She was nice and easy going go with the flow but come race time she was serious. The tone was simple at the line the girls were going to win.  The boys apparently had and they wanted a sweep for the blue.

The instructions were given she had a plan for the course when the gun went off it was show time.  She was fast she had the lead over Amanda for fifty yards then Amanda's strides took hold and she edged a slight lead to the turn.  Linda gained just a bit.  The course was both familiar to both of them.  The course had plenty of momentum killers she was behind Amanda as they made a left turn.  The course was following the backside of campus and the slight and gradual decrease in elevation allowed the energy of the turns to be regained they made the last 60 yard stretch to the creek.  Yes her legs had a bit fire yes she was sweaty.  The race was going the way she wanted it.  The creek stretched a slight downhill then as it shot near the pavilion the course got steep and fast.  Amanda had a narrow lead.  The two girls were at the head of the pack and went down they were well more then half through the race.  The descent was classic form she followed Amanda now racing her below the pavilion and the area near the trailers.  The course had a small loop and then the explosion point of a long straight away crossing the campus loop twice and then into the field.  Both women had picked up the pace.  Coach Bob was cheering them on finish strong this is a speed workout....translation it was more the likely Tara behind them and they were smoking Tivy girls the way Cheech smoked doobie.  The fire of lactic acid was being felt in the legs but the distance of the race was now fading fast as both girls were charging towards the finish line.  The course made a couple hard turns and then she saw the finish line her legs were now burning.  She crossed it.  Raul had a cup of Exceed waiting for his sister.

For Tara anticipation of the same race was another notch.  Tara relaxed and focused on the task at hand.  She knew this would be awaked for her she looked at the map and Kimber had briefed her along with Julie on what to expect for the course.  There were many aspects of it she was told expect Encino with a bit more harsher turns and a creek.  Tara made a rough plan and was relaxing knowing she would not dominate this race.

The gun went off she charged hard a petite girl from Tivy zipped around on the inside of the turn in front of her.  Tara was upset but focused.  She was trying to be patient as the straight way played out then another turn and another straight away.  Amanda and Linda were dominating the race ahead of her the race though was still young as along straight away played out followed by a 90 degree left turn.  The next down hill proved Tara with a passing point.  She made the pass and hugged the inside of the loop staying on the inside margin by the creek.  She built up an extra bit of speed charging up by the Pavilion negating the need for an explosion to attack the hill like she had been taught in Unicorn land she maintained the juice to rebuild the speed she heard foot steps still close by.  Coach Noel Scott was screaming keep it up it up Tara she is behind you do not let her pass you.  She used the hill to gain a bit of ground and she began a bit surge knowing that she over halfway and she could risk a faster pace as she went through the mini area and started the long uphill straight that crossed the campus loop twice and went by college porfs houses.  Tara had been sloppy but gotten away with.  She could figure out why Ave liked the course.  She was now driving hard realizing how deep she would have to dig.  She was now going hard realizing how tight things were.  She took the turn hard putting stress on her lower legs.  She went full juice on the kick to the finish line.  Ace had Exceed waiting for her. 

It was all simple for Dr. Tim Wells who was a coach at Schriener the Unicorn guys had won.  It was a dual meet it would go on the records of the team.  The Unicorn boys had finished ahead of the Tivy boys.  The Unicorns had three runners first 1st second and third.  Tivy had the last two runners on the course.  The top half of the race was dominated by the blue and white the bottom half of the race was blue, yellow and White.

The boys and girls had won in fairly dominating fashion.  They would pick up food at a store in Boerne.  The bus was loaded and they headed to the airport.  Stephen walked into the FBO he paid some for fuel a couple gallons and thanked Joey and he purchased a new plotter.  Ace knew he had been given far more service then he paid for by Kerrville Aviation.  He felt obligated.  Joey had been kind to xerox the sectional line.  Coach Bob decided he would watch the takeoff.  Stephen joked with Joey about the smoked doe and buck smoked at Schreiner.  He then asked Coach Bob replied asked if he wanted to watch a quick preflight.  The season needed no explanation.  Stephen had become precise focused and deliberate.  There were emotions but they were harnessed.  Coach Bob finally said, “Flying has affected your running Ace for the better.”  He told Coach Bob to turn on the scanner and he would report in with Coach West at the game.  The bus watched the white Comanche 180 with blue trim roar into the sky off 12.  The sight had an effect on the team.  Stephen made it a point to give a landmark when he called for an airport advisory in New Braunfels.  Stephen decided to go straight in to 12 and he made a turnoff for a good tie down spot.   

Raul resented Stephen he thought of him as a wealthy brat Linda tried to hold her brother in check…  Tara had never seen him fly.  Stephen and Thomas were surprised.  Bo replied "Now I know why he studies a course"  The mood on the bus was upbeat the 1 hour and 20 minutes back to New Braunfels.  They had won and done so strongly.  Amanda and girls cheered "We finally got a guys team that can match us!"  Coach Noel heard the request for airport advisory.  The airplane had crossed 281.  Coach Bob was glad that the team had notched a big victory.

The night for the team was quick to bed.  Stephen King got the pictures of the JV and freshman game he was soon asleep.  Friday would roll soon enough.  The fatique defeated the normal insomnia.



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