2017 Brenham Hillacious
The class of 2021 entered the 2018 cross country season following an unbelievable class that had entered just a season right before them. The class of 2020 has some of the states biggest names and most talented runners in Texas.
Yet, last year, we saw another outstanding class of youngsters enter high school and show that age or classification meant nothing to them and they are arguably just as good if not better that 2020.
Girls 2018 Success
The 2021 girls class was so outstanding that they heavily impacted the entire season. Cinco Ranch
star Heidi Nielson
had quite a freshman season. She got off to a late start due to Hurricane Harvey related issues, but that's not to say she got off to a slow start. She won her first varsity meet on one of the toughest courses in the state. She also ran her way to the awards stand at state and to the Foot Locker Nationals to wrap things up last year's cross season.
She was joined by outstanding runners like Eva Jess
of El Paso Franklin, Brynn Brown
of Denton Guyer, home schooler Libby McGrath
, and Kaitlyn Rodysill
of Northwest Nelson. These runners heavily impacted the individual race in their leagues and classifications.
More 2021 girls had big implications on their teams. The 2018 season was one of the most entertaining team seasons across the board. Harli Woolsey helped lead her Burleson Centennial team through the UIL 5A rankings, Allie Lyda
of Flower Mound and Keaton Morrison
of Hebron helped their teams play a big part in the crazy and classic UIL 6A team battles throughout the entire season.
The 2021 girls weren't just top heavy in talent. They were deep. In the table below, you can see how deep the class was. They had a median time of 17:59.00 for the top 20 girls. What's more impressive is their 18:12.41 average for the top 20 girls.
Below is a table of the three freshman seasons that preceded the class of 2021.
You can see how impressive they were. It shows that only the 2020 class had a better median time that 2021 with their 17:45.07 for the top 20 runners. However, 2021s average outweighed each of the previous three classes.
Things didn't stop with cross season for the 2021 girls. They continued to flex their muscle on the track as they were were amongst the top of the rankings and state meet finalists from the 800m through the 3200m.
Region 1-4A cross country meet
2018 Boys Success
The Class of 2021 boys had just as impressive of a cross country season as the girls did.
Many of the top 20 boys in the class were at their state cross country and track meets. Not only did they make it, but they were big time players. San Elizario added to their embarrassment of riches last year when Edwin Gomez enrolled. He might have gone unnoticed for much of the cross season being out in the El Paso area and joining a team that had already won three consecutive titles prior to his arrival. But, he quickly made a name for himself as he went straight bonkers during championship season.
Gomez would win district and regional titles exhibiting his talent level and composure. He save his best for the state meet where he would once again win a championship season title and the biggest one of all. He did that in a PR and freshman season leading time of 15:36.16 for the 5K distance. Oh, by the way, he went on to add 1600m and 3200m state titles during the track season at the UIL 4A state meet.
Melissa also had a 2021 gem in Judson Greer. Greer had been blazing the cross country courses throughout the season from the very beginning. He would challenge Gomez for every thing he could in cross and on the track. He was the third place finisher in cross and he added second and third place medals in the 1600m and 3200m at the state track meet.
Other 2021 boys like Canyon's Samuel Ashley, Klein's Christopher Daniels, and Wylie's Luke Lambert not only ran sub 16s in their freshman years, but they also had big time effects on 2017. All of these guys made it to the state meet and Daniels and Lambert helped their teams lead surprising seasons and make it to the UIL 6A state meet.
Slump or Scorch?
Everyone has heard of the "Sophomore Slum." The good thing is you can only go into a slump if you've done something and did well at it. The bad thing is perception if it can't be continued or capitalized on.
Our sport's success is often analyzed on progression and if you don't improve from year to year. That improvement doesn't always happen, especially for kids that make such a big splash initially.
In the past week, we've published articles of the upcoming senior and junior classes and their progressions (In which you can see below). The data shows improvement from year to year for many of the kids barring injury and sickness.
The class of 2021 has demonstrated that they are just as talented as any over the last several years. There is no reason to believe that they won't continue the trend of improvement just like the previous three classes.
I happen to be a believer in the athletes and even more so in the coaches of the state that are directing and developing the youth in the state of Texas. I'm not concerned about sophomore slumps. My question is how bad will they scorch the courses throughout the state this season?