Lady Rattlers take district title

The Tucumcari Lady Rattlers cross country team ended their season with a district championship and ninth place finish at state.

"I did not expect such a strong start when this season began," said Gary Hittson, cross country head coach.

Hittson said the team was looking for a stronger finish, though the cold weather they faced Saturday at Rio Rancho proved to be too much.

"The announcer said it was 38 degrees, though that was not including the wind chill," Hittson said.

Hittson said despite the cold, the girls went out and were able to finish in the top ten, which is no small feat. He said he is proud of the team and how they ran all year.

Hittson said he did not want to jinx the team at the beginning of the year, though he knew he had something special when the team placed third at their first meet in Clovis. He said to finish behind Clovis and Hobbs that is good, then place second the following week in Roswell behind Hobbs.

"It meant so much to win this district championship, it's the fourth for me and my last," said Keannette Perkins, senior.

Perkins said at first Hittson did not tell them they had won, he gathered them together and began to yell.

Hittson said his anger was feigned, it was a good spirited ribbing and build up to the surprise that the Lady Rattlers had won their fourth district championship in seven years.

"I wanted to surprise them, so I called them all to me and started to yell," Hittson said. "Though before I could break the news Mora's coach came over and congratulated me, thus letting the cat out of the bag."

Perkins said the district championship was all she could have wanted from a senior year.

"I would have been heartbroken not to have won that championship," Perkins said. "I've been a part of this team for five years."

"This has been an exciting and crazy part of my senior year," said Nicaela Padilla.

Padilla said this was her first full year on the cross country team. While she had played in a state tournament before in Lady Rattlers softball, this was her first time as part of a district championship team.

"It's hard to describe," Padilla said. "I used to just run to stay in shape and then one day decided to join the team. I'm glad I did."

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