WHS senior AJ Hanle places 20th at UIL State Cross Country Meet
November 6, 2023
Wimberley High School senior Arlen “AJ” Hanle placed 20th at the UIL 4A State Championship Cross Country meet on Saturday, November 4. Hanle was the lone Wimberley runner to qualify for the meet, held at Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock. He finished the 5K course in a time of 16:24.2. Hanle covered the course nearly a minute faster (17:22.6) than when he ran at Old Settler’s Park in a meet in late September.
Hanle qualified for the state meet with a gritty seventh place finish at the 4A Region IV meet, held in Corpus Christi on October 24th. Going into the regional meet Hanle knew he had a chance to qualify for state with a good run. “It’s always windy and humid (in Corpus Christi),” Hanle said. “I definitely did a lot better than I thought I would.” Hanle finished ahead of two of the District 27-4A competitors that beat him at the district race. “The Davenport guy (Eli Bliss) outkicked me at district, and I wasn’t going to let that happen again,” Hanle shared. Hanle and Bliss battled back and forth throughout the regional race until Hanle pulled ahead for good with about 150 meters to go. He finished with a time of 17 minutes 7.41 seconds, defeating Bliss by nearly half a second. Hanle also finished ahead of Jackson Temple of Boerne, who had a quicker time at the 27-4A meet. At that district meet on October 12th, Hanle was fifth in a time of 16 minutes, 19.45 seconds at the Bandera City Park course.
As he set out on his season this summer, Hanle had aims of qualifying for the state meet. “It was one of my goals as I started the season,” Hanle said. Prior to the meet he was looking forward to the challenge, “I’ve never been, but I know it’s a tough course with great competition. I’m excited to go.” Hanle is the first WHS boy to qualify for the state meet since Griffin Neal did so in 2019. Neal also finished 20th overall at state that year.
Hanle was on a Texans boys team that featured only two other seniors (Brennan Ramsey and Alex Chio), but the isolation of training alone was fine with Hanle. “I’ve never been a super social guy,” he said. “I like running alone and being in my own thoughts.” Hanle has aspirations of running in college, but hopes to stay on the oval, instead of the cross country course. He is a standout 800 and 1600-meter runner for the Texans track team.