The UIL 6A girls race was destined to be one of an interesting finish, but no one knew it would be as spectacular as it was.
The team battle was known to be a fantastic and epic race. The defending champions Keller were in it to repeat and there didn't seem to be much anyone could do about it. How the rest of it would play out, nobody knew exactly. All that was known was who the players would be. The DFW area had been on center stage all season long and it was going to come down to the end in Round Rock.
Keller flexed their muscle just as was expected, but even they did it in a way even they probably didn't think it would play out. For the majority of the season, Keller's placing had seen Isabel Van Camp powering down the stretch to the finish, closely followed by Julia Black, Abbey Santoro, Cambria Clark, and Makenna Pallozzi rounding out their scoring runners. In Round Rock, that was the case, but there sure was a shake up in the order up front. Van Camp, who had become the usual suspect to cross the line first wasn't there. It was Black, the senior and one of the focal points of who the Keller squad had been built around. Black had channelled her inner Van Camp and came charging up the hill and through the line. With about 100m remaining in the race, Black was in fourth or fifth position when all you saw were high knees and pumping arms as she would be the Keller runner with the kick eventually taking second place by a photo finish. Santoro and Van Camp would both finish the race in a way only Keller could this year, with three top ten individual finishes.
Scoring 63 points and running to an impressive 18:01 team average, Keller would take the team victory as expected.
However, it was the remaining award winning positions that were the question. It was no surprise that Region I teams and specifically district 6-6A teams were the teams battling it out for supremecy. Would Flower Mound continue their hot running streak or would the Southlake Carroll squad rebound from it's district and regional positions where they did just enough to qualify? Then there's the question of would Hebron rebound from their regional race where they qualified in the last position and return to their awesome district performance, or would another team possibly have an upsetting performance?
It was Hebron returning to it's district form and grabbing the second place trophy. They placed three runners in the top 20 to come away with a 120 score, just eight points ahead of third place Southlake Carroll. SLC finished in third to capture another trophy for their trophy case and end the dramatic team battle.
The drama wasn't done as the individual title and the top 10 medals were still on the line. Plano, junior Ashlyn Hillyard had been the top 6A runner all season. Heading into the state meet, she had been unbeaten on the season except for one race where one competitor beat her. That competitor was none other than Montgomery junior Halena Rahmaan. That rematch came at the state meet where Rahmaan would take the lead before the two mile mark and would not look back. She would run up the hill into the chute and come away with her first state title in 17:16 PR.
In the last mile, Hillyard would battle Cinco Ranch freshman Heidi Nielson for second place. They would run with Hillyard haveing a slight lead until it was time to kick. In the final meters, Nielson would kick and pull aside Hillyard as there was little to no separation between the two young stars. As they approached the finish line Hillyard would get a hair length of a step on Nielson, but something else was brewing behind the two. The aforementioned beast of a kick Keller senior Julia Black was putting on was happening right behind them. Black sprinted up the hill and past both ladies just at the line with no time to spare.
The finish was so close, that it would delay the awards ceremony by nearly 45 minutes as the timers and UIL officials verified the photo finish. In the end, Black was awarded second place with a 17:25.40 just ahead of Hillyard's 17:25.70 and Nielson's 17:26.00 for third and fourth place. El Paso Franklin freshman Eva Jess would round out the top five with her 17:34.70.