Rahmaan And Wilson Make It Two Individual National Championship Races For One Team

Halena Rahmaan and Allison Wilson compete at the 2017 Moonlight Madness Inv.

Montgomery, Texas is a not so big town, in a very big state. However, the Montgomery cross country team  has big time expectations and at leasts two very big time athletes.

After the state cross country meet in every state, every team's schedule begins to near the end. The only meets remaining in high school cross country are Nike Cross Nationals regional meets and Foot Locker regional meets.

After the regional meets for both championship races, there are even less teams and athletes that are still  left competing. In fact, only 22 teams remain to run at Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) and only about 40-50 individual athletes nationally remain for both NXN and Foot Locker Nationals.

Montgomery is one of the few teams that has the luxury to be represented at these elite national meets. Not only do they have one athlete qualify for one of the national meets, but they have two.

Juniors Allison Wilson and Halena Rahmaan have proven not only to be two of the very best state wide, but now they can claim to be two of the best nation wide.

Wilson, who finished seventh at the 6A UIL State Championship proved that she was ready for the post season with her 17:37.80 PR performance.  She then rattled off a great NXR South performance placing her on the South Team for NXN. "When I found out I qualified for NXN I was incredibly proud with my performance, and completing my final goal of the season."

At NXN, Wilson performed very well in her first national level meet where she dropped a 18:31.8 on a tough course in adverse conditions for 35th place. 

That performance was huge for Wilson as she has been on the verge of breaking out and onto the national scene. Last year, she just missed qualifying by two spots with the difference being just a matter of a few seconds. However, this year's qualification and performance could bring the recognition and respect that she deserves. Montgomery head XC coach, Chance Edwards agrees, "Not to take anything away from Halena, but Allison gets over-shadowed a lot.  Allison's NXN experience and 35th place finish, definitely brings her the respect she deserves.  She really solidified herself with that race as one of the to distance runners, not only in Texas, but the nation."

"When I found out I qualified for NXN I was incredibly proud with my performance, and completing my final goal of the season."

Allison Wilson - Montgomery junior

Not only was the trip about running and the competition, but NXN and Foot Locker also prepares the athletes for the next couple of levels that are there for them outside of running. Wilson said, "The whole trip and experience was better than I ever could imagine.  I was very thankful to have the South team to show me around and talk to." 

Rahmaan, who qualified for last year's NXN race wasn't as fortunate at this year's NXR South race. She was a part of the lead group then entire race, but on the last mile, she had dropped out. Coach Edwards said, "She wasn't feeling well before the race.  In addition to that, the wind kicking up dust caused more issues with her allergies."

That meant Wilson was going to attend and experience NXN on her own without her teammates just as Rahmaan had done the previous year. Nevertheless, this year's UIL 6A state champ (Rahmaan) wasn't down and out. She recovered both physically and mentally to travel out the Charlotte, North Carolina and compete in the Foot Locker South Regional meet. 

Rahmaan successfully put together a good race plan and executed as she has done all season long and she qualified for the Foot Locker National meet. "Halena and I both were hoping to make it to NXN together this year.  After Nike South, I was very proud of Halena for qualifying for Foot Locker Nationals to give us both a chance at Nationals." 

"She wanted redemption, and I wanted it for her", said Edwards, "Footlocker Nationals is difficult to qualify for.  There are only four regions, and they only take ten from each region.  I couldn't have been happier once I saw she qualified."

With both ladies running in Regional meets as well as National meets, their seasons had been extended quite a bit. One could think there would be challenges with the training and with their bodies being tired, but as Edwards explained that's not an issue for them. "It was one of our goals we set at the beginning of the year.  I don't mean to sound arrogant, but I was feeling confident.  I expected both of them to be up in the front of the race.  That was the plan going in, and very seldom is either one of them unable to carry-out the plan." 

As for practice, it's the same ole same ole. Just the usual Montgomery girls training to be the best. 

"It was one of our goals we set at the beginning of the year.  I don't mean to sound arrogant, but I was feeling confident.

Chance Edwards - Montgomery Head XC Coach

Edwards said, "There wasn't much modification to the training, or practice schedule.  We stay as consistent as possible with most of it. I had both girls show up for practice at normal times, and then simply kept Halena a week behind Allison's plan moving forward." Wilson said, "Other than having a few different workouts, it was nice to have a training partner like Halena to run maintenance runs with in preparation for Nationals."

Tomorrow, Rahmaan will give it a shot at the Foot Locker National Championships just as she and Wilson have both done at NXN, She said, "I've really worked hard over the summer to get to where I want to be and to see that I am there now is great ". Conditions there may be more favorable for a Texas athlete. At the Foot Locker South Regional race, the weather was definitely colder than typical Texas weather and it is no secret that NXN is also a totally different extreme. San Diego's Southern California climate is closer to that which Rahmaan is used to running in and that could pose for a good outcome.

 "I've really worked hard over the summer to get to where I want to be and to see that I am there now is great ". 

Halena Rahmaan - Montgomery junior

Along with the weather, the way the race plays out could resemble the type of race situations Rahmaan is used to. After all, she is a state champion, qualifier for both national meets, and the training partner of another elite level runner.

At Montgomery, the bar is raised pretty high and expectations are climbing. There aren't only two good runners in the town. Last year, Edwards took three individual runners to the state meet, two on the girls side and one on the boys. This year, the number increased majorly! Both the girls and the boys teams qualified for the UIL 6A state meet

It is no secret how well Rahmaan and Wilson performed for the second straight year at the state meet, but junior Alec Wright also had a great meet on the boys side when his 15:21.20 PR was good enough for 9th place putting him on the awards stand.

Per Edwards, "The program's success can be attributed to a lot of things...great parents, support from administration, and the community.  Above all else though, it comes down to the kids. I create a plan for them , and they carry it out to the best of their abilities.  The goals for next season will be to make a run at a State Championships...to turn individual accomplishments into team accomplishments."

Wilson wants to go a step further, as she is thinking about getting the whole team to NXN. "Next season I hope to qualify for NXN with Halena and maybe our whole team if we can have everyone train hard, and be consistent next season. 

That shouldn't be a far reach for the only program in the nation that can claim to have two different runners to compete individually at either NXN or Foot Locker.  In Edwards' words, "It's honestly a blessing.  I try to take a step back every once and a while, and take it all in.  Most coaches, including myself, would be happy with coaching just one kid like them, but we're fortunate enough to have two."  And as of right now, that is only happening in Montgomery, Texas.

Texas UIL State Cross Country Meet 

NXR South 

Foot Locker South Regional

NXN Championships