Smith and Wheat Middle Schools are expected to be strong competitors at Wednesday’s district cross country meet, set to start at 5 p.m. in Midlothian.

More than 40 runners will be racing across the two-mile course under Cleburne colors at the JET (Johnson-Ellis-Tarrant) District contest. Both the Smith and Wheat XC programs will be sending out 20-plus runners divided between their seventh- and eighth-grade girls and boys teams.

The Smith seventh-grade boys A team enters the district meet undefeated in the five scheduled contests leading up to Wednesday’s final race of the season.

Smith Coach Alicia Johnson is especially proud of the finish by the SMS boys at the Waco race on Oct. 15. Rather than dividing teams into grade levels, they combined into one girls race and one boys race, with the Smith boys beating Waco Midway by one point. On the girls side, Smith placed fourth.

Medal winners for the Smith Jackets were Seth Coward, fourth; Brock Barbee, sixth; Rylan Light, 11th; and John Steck, 15th.

The Wheat boys team was in the thick of things in that same race, finishing in the third-place spot. Placing in the top 20 to receive medals in the boys race were Esau Martinez, second; Julian Santos, 12th; and Jeremiah Santos, 14th. Medal winners for the Wheat girls included Jordan Rosser, fourth place; Isabel Solis, 13th; and Stefani Vasquez, 15th.

Both middle school coaches report one of the highest participation levels in cross country in recent years.

“The past years’ success helps promote positive school representation,” Wheat Coach Paul Chavez said. “We want the kids to participate and enjoy athletics. We try to build a relationship with them - if you don’t have that, it’s hard for the students to want to get up at 5:30 in the morning and to come to school and run at 6:30.

“We are very fortunate that they all come, and work hard. It’s paid off because they are all running their personal best times. Several of our runners have been in the top 15 at every race.”