15. Smithson Valley
Head Coach: Coach Brittany Lanehart
Last year's finish: UIL Region 4-6A 5th place
Key Returners: Sydney Jenson (Sr) Sara Scott (So)
Will's Outlook: Coach Lanehart has seen more transfers of impactful runners than perhaps any other program in the state. One can't help but wonder what the SV girls program would look like without the transfers in the past two years. Nevertheless, she keeps the program rolling along. They will be led by Jensen who individually qualified and a pretty experienced group that could definitely make a lot of noise this year. The team is solid and could return back to Round Rock as a team this year.
14. Katy Cinco Ranch
Head Coach: Dana Mathis
Last year's finish: UIL 6A State 6th place
Key Returners:Heidi Nielson (So), Sophie Atkinson (So), Maryella Atkinson (Sr), Fiorella Vera (So), Holly Dasher (Sr)
Will's Outlook: Coach Mathis always fields a strong and competitive team. Despite graduating two of her program's all-time top kids she still has a top group. Elite sophomore Nielson (2017 UIL 6A 4th) will continue to lead the program into the next couple of years and serves as the team's true low stick. The interesting thing to keep an eye on with this team is fellow sophomore Sophie Atkinson. She was expected to have just about the same freshman season as Nielson until her preseason injury. Now, just about fully recovered, Cinco Ranch could have the best 1-2 punch in the nation.
13. Katy Tompkins
Head Coach: Coach Amy Pitzel
Last year's finish: UIL 6A State 11th place
Key Returners: Hayden Gold (So), Lauren Titus (So), Laura Orgeron (So), Marisa Marinchak (So), Grace Kohout (So), Katie Wiley (So)
Will's Outlook: Tompkins is one of the newest schools in UIL 6A and they have probably the youngest varsity level team that will compete against meaningful competition. No worries, they were even younger last season and that turned out with a district title, regional title, and the team's first trip to the state meet in school history. Now that the girls are a year older and have some experience they could have an even better season. Although they graduated the best runner in their short history, they have six returners for the squad and this could be an exciting year for the Falcons and everybody might soon know who Tompkins is.
12. Highland Park
Head Coach: Coach Susan Bailey
Last year's finish: UIL 5A State 7th place
Key Returners: Cameron Fawcett (So), Sophia Oliai (So), Madeleine Stephens (Sr)
Will's Outlook: Highland Park is a Texas blue blood program. This year's squad should be just as exciting to watch as last year's group was. The team gained a lot of experience, which was good considering they had a couple of freshmen in the group. A year older and wiser could prove to be a big difference maker in 5A as the group took their lumps last season, but still managed to have a quality finish at the state meet. HP definitely has numbers to keep runners fresh throughout the season, so 2018 could definitely be the Scotts year.
11. Cedar Park
Head Coach: Coach Jason Grennier
Last year's finish: UIL 5A State 6th
Key Returners: Sophia Roach (Sr), Gracie Hall (Jr), Kaitlyn Childress (So), Alena Albertson (Sr), Jaida Lyles (Jr), Marypaige Perry (Jr), Hillary Behr (Jr)
Will's Outlook: Coach Grennier returns his outstanding group of girls from last season's sixth place team. Once again they haver a mix of sophomores through seniors and one thing is for sure is they are all talented girls. They will be led once again by Roach who will be looking to have a great senior year both individually and team wise. They'll enter the season with a team average of 19:08 from last year, which is very good, but they'll want to work on that above 60 second split that will dictate how well they do in the bigger races.
Head Coach: Coach Colin Sully
Last year's finish: UIL 6A State 10th place
Key Returners: Jordan Mathis (Jr), Gemma Goddard (So), Brianna Garza (Sr)
Will's Outlook: Coach Sully's squad will return with six of their top seven from last year's squad. The Vipers have been running well for the last couple of years and this year could be the one that puts them over the top. They have a couple of seniors that could be looking to go out on a high note this year and put the program on an all time high. All-State runner Mathis is the leader and her front of the race running skews the team split, but if they want to make a real impact they will have to close that gap to pose a bigger challenge.
Head Coach: Coach Mark Jones and Tracy Goodrich
Last year's finish: Home School State 1st place
Key Returners: Kaycee Keller, (So), Grace White (Sr), Lauren Bettencourt (So),
Will's Outlook: The 2017 season was one for the record books for the FEAST girls as they finished the season in the top ten of our rankings and that's right where they pick up at. They raced two miles for their state meet, but when they ran the 5K they were rolling. They ended the season with a 19:06.62 team average which is no slouch. They jumped back up to the 5K for NXR South where they finished 11th overall. They have senior Grace White for one more year as she will try to defend her state title at the same time as helping her team be the best they can be. They were one of the most improved teams last season and if the improve any more they just might be in upset mode at NXR South this year.
Head Coach: Coach Michael Gibson
Last year's finish: UIL 6A State 9th place
Key Returners: Madeline Orr (Jr), Robyn Kowalski (So), Jessica Myers (Sr)
Will's Outlook: Coach Gibson's team has been pretty young for the last couple of years, but they have still managed to make it to state and run well. They return six of their top seven from last year's state meet line up including Orr, Kowalski, and Myers. Orr and Kowalski both managed to place in the top 20 in Round Rock and will definitely want more. This team is good as indicated by their 19:04 returning team average, but if they want to have a shot at a trophy, they'll have to lower their split. If anyone can guide them to that it's Coach Gibson. His teams are historically dangerous late in the season, so keep an eye out for this year's Cavaliers.
Head Coach: Coach Rebekah James
Last year's finish: UIL 5A State 2nd
Key Returners: Daphne Pate (Sr), Hanna Moreno (Jr), Grace Nyabatware (Jr), Kyra Birkenfeld (Sr), Hannah Gibson (Sr)
Will's Outlook: Coach James always has the Randall Raiders ready! The UIL 5A ranks have become quite the gauntlet and somehow she keeps them above the fray. Last year, they just missed defending their 2016 state title missing another first place trophy by just four points. There is no doubt fire is still in the girls eyes from that November weekend and they will begin their path back to the top within the next couple of weeks. They return six from last year's top seven including All-State finisher Pate. Randall is always in the hunt come November but look for them to be aggressively hunting that top spot again this year. They come in with at 19:03.84 returning team average which is outstanding, but the one concern is their 1:49 team split, which might have been part of the four point difference at state. You can count on Coach James to put emphasis on that leading up to Round Rock.
6. Flower Mound
Head Coach: Coach Andrew Cook
Last year's finish: UIL 6A State 4th
Key Returners: Anastaysia Davis (Sr), Allie Lyda (So)
Will's Outlook: Flower Mound had an awesome season last year. They fell just short of a trophy at state and just short of making it to NXN. However, that doesn't negatively reflect on what they were able to accomplish. They battled weekly with district foes in a district that was so tough that at they state meet they were the third team in the district team standing wise but still fourth overall at the state meet. The Jaguars did graduate two seniors from last years team including All-State runner Laura Fairchild, however they were blessed with some outstanding freshmen last year who return and make up four of the top seven. Despite graduating their #1 from last year, they still have a 19:03.66 returning average, but their 2:07 split is the concern. If Davis and Lyda continue to tear it up, there might not be much they can do about it, but they will want the 20s and high 19s to come down as they compete again for a 6a title.