This year was a typical Nike Cross Nationals (NXN). The weather was cold, muddy, and rainy, just the type of conditions Texas runners just aren't really used to.
The boys race got things underway. From the beginning, the race pace was moderate causing a thick pack of runners from the front to the back.
The moderate pace added extra factors to an already tough race. It caused runners to use extra mental and physical energy.
When the front pack began to surge and increase the pace, the race of 200 runners began to open up and Texas runners began to improve their positions.
When all things were said and done, the top finishers were Flower Mound junior Alex Maier who despite recovering from an upper respiratory infection managed to turn in a 14th place performance with a time of 15:31.5. Maier was followed by Fort Worth Christian junior Carter Cheeseman in 36th with a 15:48.4, Flower Mound sophomore Jarrett Kirk in 15:58.9 for 53rd, PSJA Memorial junior Cruz Gomez in 66th with a 16:06.8, The Woodlands senior Gavin Hoffpauir and his 16:13.8 for 78th, and Corpus Christi Tuloso-Midaway senior Ace Castillo.
In the team race, Southlake Carroll and Flower Mound boys both represented for the South. Carroll a team that is used to racing at NXN continued it's tradition while the Flower Mound boys made their first appearance at NXN since 2005.
Flower Mound, the South Region champions were able to finish in 14th place with 332 points. Overall, the Jaguars scored 332 total points with a 16:24 average and a 1:27 split. Carroll finished in 19th place overall with a 16:43 tam average and a 31 second split.
In the girls race, things started out in the total opposite of the boys. The 2017 NXN girls competitors ran into a complete buzz saw named Katelyn Touhy. Touhy ran an aggressive race from the gun. She took out at a blitzing pace that saw her come through mile at 5:06 and the two mile at 10:36. When all was said and done, she finished the 5K race as the 2017 champion as well as the new course record holder with her 16:44.66.
McKinney North sophomore London Culbreath was the only competitor brave enough to go out with Touhy. The pace proved too much for Culbreath as she began to fall back to the rest of the chase pack.
Plano junior Ashlyn Hillyard would lead all Texas finishers with her 28th place finish and 18:19.7. Culbreath would be right behind her in 30th place with a time of 18:28. Montgomery's Allison Wilson and Marcus senior Quinn Owen soon followed with Wilson in 35th place with a 18:31.8 and Owen in 45th place and a 18:41.8. Frisco Liberty senior Carrie Fish finished 62nd in 18:57.3.
At NXN, all of the hoopla is all about the team competition. Keller had the best opportunity to cash in on their senior leadership and their team's valuable experience from last year. Ranked in the top 10 nationally all season long, Keller had aspirations of a podium finish.
Keller gave it a valiant effort and finished in a very solid and respectable fourth place in the team battle. Led by Junior Isabel Van Camp (41st place/18:38.5), senior Julia Black (53rd/18:57.9), and Abbey Santoro (54th/18:57.9).
We identified a few days ago that to finish third place, history shows it would take a 180 to 190 point score and a 18:40 - 18:50 team average. The team average identifier was on point as Keller ran to a 19:08 team average and third place winners Vail Valley ran a 19:00 average. An 18:50 average would have put Keller right ahead of Vail Valley in that third position. The point identifier was a little off as third place winners Vail Valley scored 162 points.
At the end of the day, Keller racked up 205 points an a 19:08 team average at a challenging course in adverse conditions and the end to an incredible season.
Southlake Carroll also concluded an amazing season. The South Region champions finished in 20th place with 460 points and a 19:59 team average.