Book 2 Chapter 8 Section 5 Race day Tales of Dead Armadillo District!  Novel by Esteban Erik Stipnieks all rights Reserved



Dennis woke up feeling the emotion of the day yet knowing it depended on two freshman.  He laughed to himself at the irony.  The Juniors and sophomores were caught between the two factions of the team seniors and freshman.  His plan simple be cool be calm and exude the confidence to get them to relax and simply run their race.  If Aero and Raul ran their race the odds of district victory were high.  The rear had been secured by the return of the freak.  Dennis trusted Ace implicitly and that part of the deal was secure.  So the plan was simple be the calm head set the tone of kicking butt but no panicing.  Today was the day of simply taking district he drove to Prince Solms Park. 

Ace drove to the park feeling the cold in the air the car slowly started.  The emotion was at a fever pitch.  The face only revealed hints of this.  One last race of his cross-country career.  He knew the course he knew the conditions place was nice but he knew he would have to carry out a precise plan on the course.  He parked beside the course just in case he needed to be widened.  He walked to where the team was in his blue sweats with his uniform beneath.  He was emotional he was also determined.  He had camera for use on three races.  His heart was stormy but his mind was focused.  The emotions of his last race and the end of a career in crosscountry were intense.  He also had two distinct roles to fill.  One was teammate the other was photographer.  He knew he would not have to set throttle he would begin the race with enough adrenaline to float a cruiser. 

Coach Bob and Coach Noel had arrived early the course had been marked with chalk and the maps had been printed out.  The two looked each other Bob at heart the teen and Noel Scott young at heart maturing yet growing more loving.  The course would be a bit muddy and slow.  They were no longer in the drivers seat the sweat the toil the work the planning of the season had come down to this.  The team had taken on a different personalty.  The team arrived early.  The girl’s varsity would be first followed by varsity boys 

Dennis, Aero, Amanda, Tara and Ace were their first followed quickly by the rest of the team 30 minutes before the varsity girls race.  Coach Noel sensed the intensity and realized that the fire while intense under control.  The myth coach Noel had heard had not been far from reality.  Tara had found a role Amanda and Linda were the team front.  As he went around he enjoyed being #2.  For the first time in his career as a coach he felt confident.  That was illustrated by a bright smile and a voice that exuded confidence.  He loved the team and was excited about district.  He watched the girls start to warm up.

Kimber's face was warm when Amanda Cook arrived.  Tara was happy ....the attitude was they were happy in the role of co stars.  Amanda felt at ease and sad this was the last time she would be running district.  The colder wind and temp that soaked through her warm ups was a tradition she was familar with annoying but charming a reminder of her first two seasons as star of the team it was hard to believe this was going to be her last.  She loved the team.  The simple chemistry was falling in place rehearsed practiced flowing as natural as the Comal River did.  The boys were there as she warmed up.  She noticed that the girl who knew her soft spot was there.  Tara said "I remember what happened at UTSA it’s not going to happen again."  The tone of the voice had menace to it.  It gave her confidence as they went to the starting line and took a box the girl was almost next to her.

Tara saw the company after she arrived and stared warming up in the biting cold.  Kimber was calm and warm....the feeling was deliberate determination.  Their was focus but not tension.  Amanda and Linda were stars yet they the supporting cast was strong.  The guys were around the girls offering their support.  The wind was not as bad as Denton.  Bo, Dennis and Ace all seemed to be reading from the same sheet of music.  As they warmed up Tara saw the face and anticipated what happened.  They had to remove the warm ups she said that it was not going to happen again.  Amanda seemed a bit surprised but she looked at Tara and Leisha had a smile as well.  It was a matter of fact statement.  Tara was not about to let that happen.  Tara had already formed an alternate race plan to go along with the line.  Amanda, Linda, Tara, Kimber, Leisha, Kathrine, and Rosignol were at the line.

The gun went off Amanda went off on her last meet if she messed up one of three left if she did things right the first hundred yards quickly happened without incident.  The air was heavy slamming into her lungs she noticed she was going faster  then she had anticipated.  She figured out her emotions were making her faster she had to adjust the whole race she wanted to finish up front her nerves and brain were trying to calculate where she was in terms of lactic acid.  She had been supercharged.  She also noticed her friend was getting close where she had a raw nerve as she could see the elbow about to be thrown it seemed inevitable.  Then her friend fell face first.  Coach Bob shouted "You’re a klutz Tara."  In the tone of the voice was sarcasm and knowing Coach Bob a hint of praise.  Tara had been true to her promise.  The pittbull had done her job and the decrease in the rumble behind her told that Tara's race plan was being resumed which was slightly slower then the pace that the race had started at.  The turn over the bridge she was at lead Linda just behind.  The legs were not building up lactic acid she was at front as she made the turn down the stop downhill by the river the valley ducked out of the wind.  This was a beautiful place to race.  She accelerated a bit and began the climbing right turn.  Linda was right behind.  Once up along the street on the decomposed granite the wind was howling chilling her she was determined and aware of how the race was going.  She saw Ace's car looming ahead and she smiled when she thought about what happened.  Her instincts in hill running and form were coming into play.  She was comfortably up front when she entered the concrete bridge walkway that crossed the real Comal.  She attacked that hill strongly and began the turn to take her back her mile time was slow but on target the cold air had thrown every thing off.  She made her way back and noticed that there would be no back traffic as she went down the concrete side walk back down the channel of the Comal.  She was gathering speed and crossed the bridge firmly in first place.  She was nervous the race was on profile Coach Noel Scott shouted more encouragement as course went straight.  Anna and Ace were in the play area cheering her on wind at her back down the long straight away.  The emotion beneath the surface the brain processing things as she went down the narrow band of decomposed granite before the steep down hill turn.  It was now time to surge.  She set the line she was comfortable with as Coach Bob shouted good race hard race smart.  The last time she was going to run the Comal river in competition.  She was now going full juice less then half a mile to go.  Her chest was burning her throat was raw she felt her heart she though had done things right she was where metabolically she needed to be.  She exploded up the hill over the wooden bridge and aimed at the finish line more voices more cheers....She was closing and nothing was going to stand in her way Amanda, Linda, Tara, and Leisha the first four.  She crossed it.  She walked down the chute the Unicorn runners were all fairly tight at the top Kimber had done well.  It looked like they had done enough.

(Decomposed Granite path mentioned by Hinman Island Drive Photo Esteban Erik Stipnieks All Rights reserved)

Tara heard the gun and focused on the friend of Amanda she was going to push it hard and hope it would not cost places later.  She was going to attach herself to Amanda's wing.  The first hundred yards went by fast then came the turn and another turn before the wooden bridge she saw the cheap shot about to happen.  She placed her stride right at the back of the other girl.  She felt the girl's heel hit her shin within half an inch of where she thought it would.  The result was dramatic.  She had mentally rehearsed and the adjustments occurred fast.  As the cheap shot was occurring if you did not know otherwise it was stupid running.  Tara had taken far worse cheap shots before.  All of this beyond the first hundred yards.  Now Tara was free to run her race.  The girl fell forward ...Coach Bob shouted what a klutz.  She no longer had to go at the extreme rate of speed as she made the pass Amanda had smooth sailing ahead.  The wooden bridge was crossed she was assessing the damage done to herself for that near max sprint....calm down and slide into race pace just watch position as she went down the downhill.  She was done backing down on her speed as she ran upstream the course was beautiful.  She was amazed at how fast the stretch was a climbing right turn 180 she would be back cannon-balling her strength allowed her to gain a bit on Linda.  The wind was howling out of the north the air cold heavy on her lungs reminded her of Denton she was ahead of the pack on rear guard for the two stars.  She focused on the course only halfway understanding their emotion and their desire.  Ace's car loomed ahead....she briefly wondered if it would get dented again.  She accelerated Linda now pulling ahead straight down the gravel path she carried the speed through uphill on concrete first the bridge over the original Comal and up around to behind Pats.  The next section of the course would allow the lead to be behind the last of the girls as they went down and reversed direction that they had run her mile time was on profile.  She felt the lactic acid in her legs but the cold air dense in oxygen feeling like lead shot in her lungs was minimizing she was warmed up and fast.  She followed the small series of turns then back down with the wind at her back she had the hill hard keeping locked near Linda as her team cheered her on.  The uphill out of the channel of the original Comal was a pain but the fact that very few was the level training run and her upper body strength allowed her to explode up it.  The wind at her back she felt courage and added speed for the big kick towards the end. Linda had been pulling ahead by not much.  The downhill hairpin was coming fast.  Tara was feeling bold and her dense mass cannon balled it long strides tight line.  She was on the inside her quads cutting aiming a dead straight to the outside once down on the level concrete a blast by her outside foot to stabilize picking up the speed accelerating holding position as Coach Noel shouted.  Good job Tara district glory is 300 yards away take it!  With that below the wind she ran hard.  It was good to hear his voice and Anna along with Lezlee had done their bit.  As she crossed the wooden bridge Dennis, Bo and French Fries were shouting their encouragement.  She saw it ahead her legs burning her lungs feeling like a supercharger had been shoved into them and her abs on fire she exploded through the line. 

Amanda was there "Thanks!"  Tara replied "Wear your gold Monday.”  Tara congratulated her other teammates they had dominated the top of the race.  Lots of blue up front was a good sign."  Linda was nearby Linda, Kimber, Leisha and Kim.  Linda said, “Let’s go tell the guys to do it.” 

Then as suggested by Ace three boom boxes got near the guys.  Coach Bob had been called by Amanda the previous night.  He approached the varsity team and said head phones off.  Amanda looked at Thomas and Mike "Make sure I have some one to cheer at UTSA next week."   The girls not near the box and the girls varsity team talked to each of the guys and said...take it.  Dennis had seen the girls and started warming up as they were putting their warm ups.  This was his chance to go out on top.  Tom, Serg, and Bo it was nice everybody knew their role.  He was serious he was methodical beneath it the grief was tempered by the fact that everybody was reading from the same sheet of music.  Regionals were definitely on the horizon if they did it right.   The warm up continued.  The warms ups came off and it was to the starting box.  Bo simply said,“Lets Do it”as they received starting instructions.  Dennis could not have agreed more.  The team had a smug feel relaxed and ready.  The gun went off.

With the sound of the gun Bo was focused on the task he accelerated in the cold air his legs just loose enough it was not a rabbit start but already French Fries and Raul were head of the mess that he was in the thick of....they each had their own race to run.  Bo managed to get the line he wanted despite the traffic.  The air was like sucking down lead.  Well things continued tradition by fluke continued.  He got a good position crossing the wooden bridge over the original channel of the Comal.  The intense emotion fueled the analytical mind.  Coach Bob shouted "Way to run smart.”  Bo used the practiced form for the quick down hill he calmly picked up a place.  The wide concrete sidewalk by the river was a beautiful sight Bo was right now concerned about holding position.  He slowly started working his way to the inside.  He was going to go further beyond the lactic acid threshold to nail the uphill hairpin.  He attacked it and then took places in the process.  Up by Hinman Island Drive the wind sliced through Bo.  The wind was cutting his small frame and as he inhaled the air when it went through his nasal passages warmed and expanded the thicker air was richer in oxygen.  The leg muscles were warm.  Bo saw Ace's car.  Bo knew why it was parked there.  He grinned as he started accelerating down hill.  There was a turn along a trail that separated the boys course and then around.  The smaller turn section Bo maintained some speed through the section and then he started forcing speed uphill.  The race was less then 1/3 in.  As he crested the hill he was at the mile mark the time was within the window but the fine plan for the most part had been scrapped.  The weather conditions and other factors had dictated the strategy he was using. So far so good times meant nothing right now other then they offered clues to the overall metabolic picture going on internally.  He was not far beyond the lactic acid threshold and he was in good shape.  While the hack times were off things were falling into place.  It was about places now he was going by feel realizing the start had been off and that he was keyed up on adrenaline.  The line Bo had selected was on the inside Coach Noel was shouting keep running smart as he was back by Liberty he took a left and accelerated quickly down hill.  He saw Ace with the camera and heard the cheer.  The girls were further down.  Raul and Bo were way ahead by now and only a smattering Heights, Tivy, Canyon a series of passes Bo would have to make.  He snagged one as he came up by the play ground after the wide pooch of the course.  The wind blowing at his back made him feel good.  Bo was making the transition from not being hunted to the hunter as the race continued.  Run smart....till it is time to run hard stay out of trouble he knew till the time came to slice and dice.  Bo's smaller mass allowed the downhill hairpin to be cut aggressively.  Another Heights runner was now behind and the race was halfway through.  Coach Bob saw Bo’s pass on an Antler, “Way to go.”  The only thing colder then the air was the blood in Bo’s veins. Coach Bob saw the lion playing the course like a master. Through the stretch of the Comal Bo reeled in another runner from Tivy and passed the 2 mile marker on profile and he crossed the wooden bridge laying off a pass for a few seconds then making it again.  They longer loop was approaching and then the finish.  Bo made the pass added some speed and saw French Fries behind Raul at the lead.  The blasting of cold air into his lungs his chest was feeling it his legs were on fire. He was where he needed to be he passed another cougar one runner from a couple district rivals was between him , Raul and Aero.  He would not make the passes as the course thinned out and he made the long loop then dip to the chute.  He hoped other teammates were were tight in.  Not a personal best time but a solid finish and freshman had not failed.  Bo was surprised to hear Dennis name cheered right behind him.  Thomas and Tom were not too far behind last was Serg.  Bo could taste gold he had an exhausted smile. They Unicorns were packed tight in the front.

(The course by the river photo Esteban Erik Stipnieks )                         (Course by the river shortly after hairpin photo Esteban Erik Stipnieks)

French Fries was relaxed when the gun went off.  The tone had been clear we are here to take it.  He had been warmed up.  The start was good.  He was behind Raul and all he wanted to do was to slow down just a notch and avoid doing anything stupid for the first mile.  The turn was made to run by the river and get out of the wind.  Coach Bob was shouting encouragement.  French Fries had backed off the juice enough his ears were perked enough to detect other people passing him as he crossed the bridge.  The form of the hill allowed him to gather extra speed which Aero had been smart enough to use.  The straight away loomed a head ducked out of the wind in the valley of the Comal.  Raul was ahead the race was on profile while still young.  The climbing turn put him somewhat into the lactic acid threshold but he was running at a solid pace he was not going to drag race it as he turned into the wind.  His chest felt the weight of the air he felt strong early on in the race.  Aero was determined and he kept a steady pace over the decomposed granite walkway and he saw Ace's car come into view.  He smiled.  He made the jigs of the course he shrugged some speed. He did not know it and accelerated rapidly into the area by the original channel of the Comal making a left turn below the play ground round a section of the course that only the guys would run and then back onto the narrow concrete of the walkway of the bridge that crossed the original channel of the Comal.  That section of the course was no passing but for the moment it was irrelevant.  The uphill was massive but he had been trained for it and he was cruising.  The first mile was a little slower but still decent considering the cold.  The long loop of the course began keep it smart he thought.  With each step District glory was getting closer he heard Coach Noel shout encouragement he made the loop and saw Ace's cam snap a couple pictures.  He heard the cheers and saw the smile he accelerated as quickly as he could using the hill and wind to shove him forward.  The diversion around the bend on the other side of the original channel of the Comal was a bit sloppy but he was static number two in the race he drove himself up forward knowing that he was going to come up on the 2 mile mark this cold suffering would have a glorious end.  He made it up by the top near the playground.  The course continued.  The temp was only a couple degrees above freezing the wind shoved him forward.  French Fries had a plan to be somewhat aggressive on the down hill hairpin.  As it approached he took advantage of the fact there was no traffic around him and he started the turn early going to the inside as the speed built up he was going allow the whole turn to fatten out and then control some of it at the base.  His smaller mass did not mean he had the rapid speed gain so he had a greater degree of control and he did not have to force it as he got back on level concrete he added power at the 2nd mile marker to roar the last mile.  Now it was time to accelerate.  The legs were warm the extra oxygen in the blood stream had been having a nice effect glory was now less then a mile away as his soccer coach shouted encouragement.  The straightway by the river was tackled then up the hill over the bridge and around prince Solms park slowly adding more speed till a full sprint Raul was not that far ahead.  Sweat had started flowing by the time he got to the last hundred yards and the girls were now shouting they had seen the action.  Aero was now aware of the fact that the guys who did not stop believing were in the back of a meat truck like a pack of hungry Pit bulls.  He crossed the line.

Coach Bob could scarcely believe it he looked at Linda who was smiling.....they saw Aero and Raul first and second.  Dennis had done better the other seniors were now hungry.  It was good news.  They had loaded the front up a little more tighter then the girls.  Ace got the picture he was smiling.  The smiles were big on both the girls and guys squads as the girls JV went to the line but realizing they had just seen the double gold.  Coach Noel had made it back and two looked.  Tara's had had congratulated them.

Allison looked at Brandy and Anna an odd Trio started their warm ups on their race.  The group Allison may have been a geek but she had liked running and doing the best she could.  Anna and Brandy the two vixens who were stealthy fire brands.  Lezlee was completed the mix.  The glory that was exuding from the varsity was like beef blood in a dogs mouth.  The oddball dynamic the alliance of different people was no less intense on the JV girls....why not get gold why not go out in glory! 

Anna and Lezlee had been the odd twins their figures short stout and curvy.  The two could flirt.  They were serious when they began their warm up.  The glory of varsity had been the beef blood in their mouth.  The two looked at the rest of their JV as the warmed up and made it clear what the goal was.  Their tone had shifted.  Brandy was feeling the intensity and the warm up had been completed.  The goal was simple glory.

Anna took off with the sound of the gun and she ran a textbook first 300 yards Coach Bob shouted way to go.  She was near the front at a comfortable pace enjoying the warmer air.  She made the turn for the bridge and crossed the original channel of the Comal happy with where she was emotional as all get out knowing this was the last time she would be running the stretch in competition.  She put a notch of speed on as she made the uphill hairpin in fifth place.  The race was young.  The wind sliced her as she ran on the decomposed granite path beside Hinman Island drive.  She was content where she was patience was the better part of valor right now as she swung by Ace's car and then accelerated down hill.  She made a pass using her mass and better form  to snag a quick pass and then she knew she better keep the pass made through the long uphill.  She saw the camera go snap and the whole team was cheering her on.  She felt power and the embrace their enthusiasm she was trying to run her best race gold was a desired parting gift.  Her first mile was on profile she began the next mile one last run run by the river as a member of Unicorn crosscountry she cannonaballed the downhill making two passes running for many reasons she then exploded on the uphill she would never run another one in competition.  Coach Noel was calm but enthusiastic as the wind was behind her down Hinman Island drive.  She set up an aggressive line on the downhill hairpin.  She was aware how far beyond the lactic acid threshold she was as the distance played out she was going to finish this race knowing there was nothing left.  The line was bold it was aggressive her quads were pushed to their limit and after that it was full speed a sprint by the Comal she saw a pass and as she accelerated up hill she made a pass on the wooden bridge. Coach Bob shouted "Way to be aggressive!"  Her legs were burning her lungs felt like they had been sucking lead her stomach was feeling heavy but that finish line loomed ahead.  She rocketed through it her last was over third place.

(original channel of Comal Bridge between Hinman Island and Prince Solms)

Allison felt the intensity of the strong seniors like her twin brother she dare not let the group down.  She knew she would have 2 more cracks at this course but she was in hunt of her perfect race.  Brandy was not too far ahead as the gun went off.  The goal was simple run a smart race and secures glory for the JV girls.  Her twin brother wanted personal glory to end the day later.  The course line was appropriate top third of the pack and she was just a bit behind her friend Brandy the two body types would alternate relative position Brandy was faster up hill she was faster downhill.  Allison loved the sport loved the fact it had looked like Varsity had secured glory and she was going to do her part to add more gold to the tally as Brandy repassed her.  The two were gaining on a runner ahead and the hill would offer a passing  opportunity.  The two made the attack on the climbing uphill turn.  Allison was behind Brandy as Brandy made the pass the girl tried to go wide blocking off Brandy Allison made the pass Allison a few seconds later saw Brandy dart into view and start cutting the wind that was howling from the north.  The two were close enough to alternate taking an edge off the howling wind.  They made their way by Ace's car Allison took the lead.  Then came the downhill by the channel of the original Comal.  Brandy pulled into the lead they were gaining on a couple runners one from Heights one from Tivy.  The first mile was a bit slow but everybody was the legs were now loose and they headed back for the downwind second mile.  Allison's legs allowed her gather speed quickly.  She crossed the river and then Brandy methodically passed her and the two were racing making a couple passes.   Down the back stretch they were picking position and Lezlee could be seen.  The downhill hairpin was coming up they made a critical pass to allow them to cut through the turn running their own line. Allison made her pass shot wider then Brandy the two were to race each other for a finish one more victim fell between the two.  Allison continued she made the quick uphill and then the bridge.  It was all out.  The two knew win or lose they were going to get glory Allison barely made the lead when she crossed the finish line. 

Coach Bob was happy the girls had done enough to win JV varsity had been a bit of blow out the seniors found an extra gear to pass and the girls had delivered varsity.  Now it was left to JV boys to pick up individual glory.  Coach Noel came by the JV boys were warming up.

Ace had been so wired he decided he would not need tunes to get things going.  Now it was all about his last race he had a plan for the mud and course things had warmed up just enough so the warm-ups off his legs were not so bad as he took to the box.  Thomas shouted "Make it count it’s your last."  Ace simply said when isn’t running against other guys lets load the top up with glory.  Amen was said by Steven Ray and the gun was fired.

Ace took off just a bit faster he was near the top he was also aware of the adrenaline that had been pouring into his system he was ahead of some of the traffic as the turn began.  The air was heavy on Ace's lungs but he was prepared as the speed continued.  He was caught up trying to set the pace as he made the turn on the wooden bridge one he used momentum to make a pass which surprised him. Passing on the bridge was bad form but it had to be done the sheep down hill then open running up river for the last time in competition.  Things had stabilized into the race it was still young he was fast but he not excessively so he realized he would have to make a pass on outside climbing hairpin that he had walked down to fish so much.  There was a couple runners from Alamo Heights and Tivy up front ....not a priority yet stay from deep in the lactic acid threshold as the wind cut through him beside Hinman Island drive.  Coach Bob shouted keep comfortable good pace it’s your last run it smart.  He passed by his car it was not needed to widen the course.  He shoved the downhill and the pooched mini circle around the level area near the original channel of the Comal he maintained speed then  on the concrete bridge he gained he made the pass darting to the inside with just a hair of finesse his biking was paying the last of the dividends.  First mile about 20 seconds fast but he was relaxed three people between him and was leading the Race Coach Noel shouted to Steven Ray behind him ok now he knew how the next two miles would play out he was not too far beyond the lactic acid threshold he was sitting pretty as he dove down the small section by San Antonio street.  He made one of the three passes yet conservative he went around the larger loop of the course that was the boys and back down heading with the wind behind him.  He noticed he was being photographed as the whole team was cheering him on he gained ground on pass number by the time he was near the base of the concrete bridge over the Comal channel.  He made the pass on uphill.  One more and slowly he was reeling in on the back stretch the second mile was called it was now show time.  He ran held the speed through the first part of the hairpin going a bit wide then allowing the speed to build up using his quad to arrest the side drift the Air Pegasus was pushed but it did not rip and he rolled in the speed.  It was now all out beside the Comal.  He was gaining steadily on the past part by the river before he would have to deal with turn approach to the chute on the hill he gained and he exploded using a big kick to make the pass on the bridge....ooops will it had to be done his legs were burning the final 400 yards to the to the 100 yard chute.  Thomas was in first place Ace was in second he heard that Steven Ray was in third....he crossed.  Not a record time but a great finish.  Bo went up to him "2 passes on the wooden bridge!"

Allison Ray congratulated her brother; Tara shook Ace's hand Amanda smiled "I told you could.”  No full JV guys squad but a first second and third finish was a desired end note for district.  Steven Ray was happy. 

Finally the awards Ceremony came to place. The girls had taken first place as a team a trend continued.  The guys collected their Gold medal.  Coach Bob was unable to hide a wide smile Dennis shouted "Ace get over here with us."  It was an order he placed his gold medal on Aces hand as a picture was taken.  The girls JV got their gold medal.  Then the first second and third medals were handed out last for the JV race Alamo Heights took gold.  As one of them quipped "You did not have to use your car this time good start"  Ace was leaving near the top.  Coach Bob then said "You got a week of workouts as alternate."  Ace smiled Coach Noel said "Enjoy it you earned it" 

Coach Bob suggested why not lets eat together to celebrate the hardware.  The decision was made to head Adobe Cafe.  The group headed in their cars to the place San Antonio to Seguin then right on what had been called 81 for about half a block.  The letter jackets were almost all adorned were hardware.  The freshman that did not have their letter jackets had it on the other jackets.  The place on the patio where there once were gas pumps on a Mobile station was cleared for a big table for the team.  A fountain gurgled in the background.

Tara was with Amanda who offered to drive her.  She was simple....once in the car "Thanks."  Tara replied "I saw gold slipping away"  Dennis had already handed Amanda his Gold Medal for Ace I know you talk to that old PE teacher.  She had been thinking along the same lines. She smiled, “It’s nice not to be only super star.”  Tara replied "Winning Gold its nice."  Amanda processed for the first time that Tara had gotten some individual honors but team honor as a part of a girls squad had eluded her.  Tara was happy for the guys and realized how Amanda was feeling.  She saw a bright smile on Amanda's face.   

Ace arrived Dennis was behind "I trusted Amanda with hardware you earned it besides you got another week of workouts."  Ace smiled "Thanks for that!"  Dennis said "Gotta keep you away from your folks."  The two let out a laugh.  They walked in Coach Bob was there while the table was being formed.  Ace saw Amanda "Thanks.”  It was a simple statement but it encompassed how he felt.  She was surprised.  Coach Noel Scott and seen it and shot a smile towards Amanda's direction.  He had encouraged her to make the Challenge.  Tom's face everybody's older brother was beaming.  They walked in.  Aero and Raul had played a role.  Bo was quipping along with Serg as the team assembled Coach Bob said "I checked the stats Bo...Dennis if it had not been for you two we would have been Allened....Ace, Thomas,Anna and Lezlee you got  an additional week of workouts.  I am telling you this in front of the team you got a week of workouts ahead of you."  The group ordered.  Ace thanked Kimber for what she had done.  Julie had made a couple key passes to secure JV gold for the girls.  It had been close he looked.  Anna was happy she left with gold.  They ate the team had one last full meal JV and Varsity together. 

Kimber ate her two tacos Brett was with her.  The two were happy. For Kimber the new team had what she loved. Happy in her role she saw the team soar. That made her satisfied. For Brett an old friend had become someone he respected more. When it all was said and done childhood friendships had become deeper. One more week of workouts for the guys it.  There was joy.  This is the way she wanted to go out.  Brett commented about good it was Coach West had done things differently yet he had not defaced her dad's role and had smoothed things...Coach Noel Scott was setting a tone.  She was happy to see Dennis and Tom beaming.  Ace looked contented the grief behind his face she realized would probably never fade but the pleasure he took in the team's glory was obvious.  Tara had been a good younger sister in Christ.  Brett whispered "Viva La Revolucion.”  She smiled her boyfriend had said it all.  Things were happening and everybody liked them.  

Coach Noel Scott took it in as he ate.  Coach Bob had popped a smile.  He noticed, Ace, Julie, Kimber and even Amanda had discreetly prayed before their meal.  He prayed with gratitude the season he would have to give the newspaper all the info.  He had seen Christianity take root and transform the team.  Coach Bob was happy Ace had kicked the team.  Ace had a smile quiet he let Raul, Aero, Dennis have their glory.  As Noel Scott went to the bathroom we went by Ace "Seeing others suceed."  Ace replied "The team I loved bathed in glory.  The tone in his voice was contented.  Amanda had done her part.  This was turning.  He ate his modest meal and saw the team eat the big meal. Coach Bob thanked him for his part.

For Linda she was happy for brother she could see Amanda her friend enjoying.  She was glad for the new friendship with Tara.  The guys were glowing her brother did not realize why but it had been 4 years in the shadow for many of them now they were co stars actually dashing male leads.  This made her happy her fajitas were loaded with salsa her brother and Serg were giving Ace a hard time saying he showing his non gringo Raza.  There was humor.  Bo replied I eat white.  Tom was eating Gringo.  Serg quipped about how Dennis was eating like puro Tejano.  The joking was good natured.

For Raul and Thomas it was time to celebrate.  Raul had taken first.  Thomas had made it to varsity. They had been good now it was time to celebrate. The neighbor was new to the town and called the police he had come to New Braunfels to escape some the stuff out of the valley.  He was an old man who wanted to be left alone.  He had moved to the house across the street he was ex military and kind of upset the noise of the Tejano and Proud had driven him upset so he made the call since the noise had not abated it.  Raul had not been privy to the growing tension to three of NBPD showed up.  It was 9 when he was busted.  The police officer had done security at games and knew Raul he called Dr King and announced that since Raul had also copped an attitude.  His parents would have to come.  The hand of discipline would have to fall uniformly if the new superintendent were to have a future.  He had enjoyed her return to the neighborhood.  His partner was a recent female hire of the force.  When Raul smarted off he forced his future to be detained in juvee. 

Sunday morning at 7:30 when Stephen King was about to leave for church his mom said "Raul and Thomas got arrested MIP drunken dirorderly."  The news got him upset.  Stupid Freshman was his comment as he got in the tan turd and headed to church.  It was something to think about and pray about at church.  The drive was quiet except for flashback on 105.3 on the radio then KZEP as he Ace got on loop 1604 to come down Interstate 10.  Steven made to the parking lot.  Amanda and Tara were smiles. 

They saw the face on Stephen King with bit anger on it.  Tara asked "I thought you would be happy."  Ace then said "You have not heard about Raul and Thomas."  Amanda was surprised she had not talked to Linda.  Amanda said "Stupid freshman!" There was anger in her voice. She was also irritated at Thomas. Her next line “Why couldn’t he have waited 1 more week!” Tara then said, “Well Ace looks like you are running regionals on the course you hate."   Stephen King nodded Tara was surprised Ace was looking more like Amanda then she expected. Ace was visibly saddened that the party was busted.  Tara knew the two had to broken for Christ to have an opportunity. Ace and Amanda had lost sight of that detail. The trio headed to the small fellowship hall for church for Sunday School. 

Brent talked about the football team.  Pete who was hardly the white guy Brent his big frame glasses good nature the consummate military brat heading to Clark offered insight.  Tara had learned to be servant she had been the star of the show on the girl's crosscountry and cheerleader as a sophomore her junior year she was learning to serve.  Ace was riding a rocket by serving.  Sometime in Denton he had stopped wanting to be the star but being involved and taking joy from other he was learning how to deal with the spotlight.  Tara was learning the lesson Ace had learned and now Ace was learning how to be graceful in the spotlight he first had to learn to be ambivalent about.  Amanda was seeing how the values she grew up with were applied in a world that was rotting.  Tara surprised her and Ace by pointing out their flaws. Pete got on Ace for his attitude.  Ace would have rather not run regional.  He was upset at Raul for being stupid but there was as well the very thing Ace had complained about and fought against in Ace displayed hints of.  Brent was trying to deal with stability and being a big man on campus his parents had stayed in the same location for more then 4 years and his father was retiring it made for an interesting Sunday school.  The service was good this was not Denton Bible diapers were off and the children were expected to grow this demanding atmosphere was uncomfortable yet appealing to Amanda she saw the vision.  For Ace and Tara it was a challenge and application.  Keith had heard and had told Tara she was growing up and while uncomfortable it had been good. 

After the service Amanda had to talk to an old friend.  The old PE teacher gently pointed out that Tara had been correct. Monday post workout would be a surprise for Ace. Her father had been trusted with the medal that Dennis had given her to give to Ace.  The plan had been formed up and agreed to handle it on Tuesday.  Her conversation with Dennis on what to do Tuesday with school announcements had been productive.  She did not like his partying the most unusual alliance of the season was continuing. 

Ace spent the day like Tara catching up on homework.  The news story about Raul would not run till the following day it had just beaten the news cycle.  The houses within 3 miles were worlds apart.  Ace though would be running one more meet.  The pressure though was off.  A Neil Young song captured the feeling.   




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