Vaughan has won three consecutive SPC individual state cross country championships getting faster every year. Carozza has won two individual titles and his St Stephens won the team title last year.
At the beginning of the season, it would have easily seemed likely that Vaughan would win her fourth title, Carrozza would win his third, and the St. Stephens boys would repeat.
At this point, things seem to be all but a given on all fronts.
Vaughan, is still the heavy favorite to take home another win as she did as a freshman, sophomore, and junior. At the McNeil Invitational, she ran a 5K PR 17:16.09 to further establish herself as the favorite. However, as last weekend also uncovered how much Greenhill sophomore Maddie Hatfield has improved. The junior ran 17:47.35 and right into the Texas girls individual MileSplit Flo50 rankings. Hatfield has become a worthy competitor for Vaughan to keep an eye on if she wants to complete her four year reign over SPC.
Carrozza's title defense is a little more clearly defined as over. A bid for his third consecutive SPC title is completely out of the question. Carrozza's age has eliminated him from SPC competition. He turned 19 six days before the age deadline making him ineligible to defend his titles.
Carrozza's successor just might be from his own team. Teammate Travis Dowd finished second last season at the SPC state championships and he is on a mission to be one of the state's best let alone the best in the SPC.
It was at McNeil that Dowd also busted a pretty big PR when he went 15:02.84 for a new 5K PR. That clearly makes him the top SPC boys individual. However, Dowd will still have his challenges. Dallas St. Marks has a tough duo who won't just give the SPC championship away. Senior Seth Weprin and junior Pablo Arroyo are the only other SPC runners who have run under 16 minutes for 5K this season. They will each look to win the individual title over Dowd or at least make it as hard for him as possible.
Dowd also looks to lead St Stephens that aforementioned repeat. It will be more challenging to do without Carrozza, but he makes a quality and prepared leader. St. Stephens will need every bit and more that Dowd can give as Weprin and Arroyo will be looking to beat him once again. Their St. Marks squad is clicking on all cylinders this season.
In 2017, St. Marks fourth overall in the team standings at the SPC state meet. This season, not only have they improved amongst the SPC ranks, but they have already cracked the MileSplit50 overall rankings checking in at #13 as one of the best teams in the entire state. As of now, they have become the favorites to win the 2018 SPC team title with their 16:28 5K team average, which is better than last year's 16:48 team average that won it for St. Stephens. Along with Weprin and Arroyo, St. Marks has three other runners who have run 17:00 and under. St. Stephens has three other sub 17 guys of their own to go with Dowd and will still look to fend off St. Marks and John Cooper to win their second title.
There is still a month left until the SPC state meet, but clearly this is a season remaining with SPC drama and story lines still to be written.