Team Tuesday: Sleeper Teams To Keep An Eye On

Galena Park North Shore - Boys

Galena Park North Shore is making moves towards getting where they need to be at the end of the season. The school is well known for it's football history and it's sprinting performances over the years. However, head coach Mike Hernandez and staff have created a strong distance program, one of high expectations and a positive culture.

The team is in the congested Region 3-6A, which has several programs that will by vying for one of the four qualifying state berths.

With a couple of teams that are expected to grab qualifying spots, the North Shore boys squad may be one of the sleepers in the Region. Last season, the team had a disappointing eighth place team finish at Regionals. They totaled 245 points, with a 17:26 team average, and a 1:25 split.

Each one of those stats is not conducive to qualifying for a state meet from any UIL 6A region. In fact, it wasn't a clear picture of how good the Mustangs actually were. 

This season, the coaching staff and the team have put last year behind them and are moving forward with the 2018 season. They are led by senior Jose Gonzalez who qualified individually for state last year.  Gonzalez has been one of the top distance runners in Region 3 over the last couple of years. His partner in crime at North Shore has been classmate Brian Martinez and he has been on a roll so far this season. He ran a PB at The Friday Night Lights meet and hasn't looked back since. He has PRed in the past two weeks including his fifth place finish at the Region III Preview and a new 16:14.70 5k PR.

Martinez' time this weekend was 50 seconds faster than he ran at last year's regional meet at the same course. However, it wasn't just Martinez who improved on the regional course from last year's season ending region race. Gonzalez also ran 16 seconds faster, but it was a team breakthrough as well. They ran far more superior to last year's stats on this course as they totaled 88 total points and ended up running a 16:18 team average and with only a 1:03 split. The only teams that could beat them were Katy Tompkins, who was fourth in last year's 6A state meet and The Woodlands who won last year's state meet. This weekend's numbers were way better than last year's regional race, so much that they would have upped them from 8th place to 3rd in that race, which would have put them in the state meet.

The Mustangs are running at a higher level all through the squad. As it stands, with everyone running at their best, North Shore would have a 16:39 team average for 5K and a mere 40 second 1-5 split. Now, those are the type of numbers that are conducive to getting to state. It's only early September and the season either ends or continues based on what you do in late October. Nevertheless, it is a positive sign and the progression for North Shore is pointing up. They are definitely a sleeper team that you might want to wake up on, before it's too late!

McKinney North - Girls

Yes, this team is much more than just their famous #1 runner. Last season was a successful one for the team and it was a stepping stone to this year. Now that this year is here, they are showing that they are a team that should be taken for real.

They ran for the first time this season with London Culbreath this past weekend, but for the season up to this point, they have been very competitive without her. With her arrival to the 2018 season, the picture is starting to form right in front of us. The team now has a sub 20 minute team average with their 19:56.78, and that is only with a 18:11 from Culbreath. With a 16 or 17 minute race from her, the stat line will no doubt get even better.....except for the split.

The overall split doesn't matter as much in a scenario like this. It's the other stat lines that tell the story of McKinney North. The team has a 1:13 split between the #2 and #5 and they are contributing in a major way to what could be a special season. Sophomore Sydney George gives a strong #2 punch as she has dropped a 19:42 this season and freshman Kamri Talbot is close to making it a third runner under 20 minutes as she has dropped with each race with her 20:02 PR. The current 19:56.78 team average is already ahead of where the team ended at the Region 2-5A meet with a 20:06 on that day.

Although Region 2-5A is tough, coach Richards and staff have the girls looking good as they are ranked #11 in the MileSplit50 (TX) rankings. Don't sleep, because the Lady Bulldogs are coming!

Lucas Lovejoy -Girls

No, this isn't about the Lovejoy boys squad. Let's give the girls their shine as they are quietly running their way to a great 2018 season. They are currently ranked #3 in the MileSplit50 (TX) rankings and it is for a just cause. 

Lovejoy is in the same 10-5A district as the aforementioned McKinney North squad, but the Leopards appear to be ready for the district and regional challenges they'll see later on in the season.

They currently are ahead of last year's final race at regionals where they ran for a 20:55 team average. At their best, they are currently, looking at a 20:01 5K team average. Every returner from last year's region race is running 30 seconds or more faster than they did that day last year.

Coach Carly Littlefield has the squad hungry and sharp for this 2018 season. The team has a combination of experience and youth that is keeping the squad composed, fresh, and on their toes. Senior Carson Hockersmith and sophomore Amelia Carothers are evidence of that as their 1-2 punch consists of both the experience and youth.

This year's group looks to make the trip back down to Round Rock right along with the boys and take the Lovejoy program to an even higher level than before.

Region 2-5A is loaded with about seven teams who have a legitimate shot at getting to the state meet. There are only four spots, but do not sleep on the Lovejoy girls.