Team Tuesday: Big Wins For Big Teams

It's Team Tuesday and that means we get to acknowledge some outstanding performances from the weekend.

We want to point out some of the top teams who worked together at their meets this weekend and came away with wins. I mean, isn't that what this sport is all about - Teamwork?

We've already recently acknowledged this team for their outstanding performances. However, they keep going on and keep coming back to appear for out Team Tuesdays.

Austin Vandegrift

Vandegrift has already made an appearance here, but it is noteworthy that they are trying to become the top team in Central Texas. They have been rolling and competing well all season long. As for the competition they have raced, well, it has been nothing but the best. 

The Vipers have raced in the top meets this season with their races at Friday Night Lights, Cedar Park Inv, and Marcus I. They even competed in a tri meet against two other ranked teams in Cedar Park, and Leander Rouse. If that isn't enough, they will head back to the DFW this weekend to compete at the Lovejoy Inv. and that will be another LOADED meet.

Vandegrift has run well and fast. The boys squad is led by Anthony Monte who is having a heck of a junior season. He has proven to be one of the top runners in the state this year, but he is not a lone wolf. He has help with runners like seniors Sam Wells and Ryan Morreale who are helping to lead this group to a string of wins.

The girls are led by All-State junior Jordan Mathis, but like Monte, she has company helping her lead the charge for the team. Emma Saia, Gemma Goddard, and Maggie Mcelmurry are just some of her teammates who are pushing the team forward. But, there are other girls doing the same and if Mathis needs more team motivation, she can find it right in her own home as younger sister Taylor Mathis is also a part of the Vandegrift team this year and putting in work for the Vipers.

The Woodlands 

We have another school with both girls and boys squads putting in work and getting results. This weekend, both Highlander squads ran to victories at the Kingwood Andy Wells Inv.

The girls took on some very good teams including a tough host team in Kingwood. The race was exciting and it looked like Kingwood had a win in the bag, but it was the Highlander style of running that gave them the advantage. 

TWHS girls executed their pack running very well when Kingwood had four girls to cross the finish line to the Highlanders' two, But, then the TWHS pack came passed the line in a flurry. Right after Kingwood's #4 runner, four TWHS runners came in right behind her in less than 2.5 seconds to seal the victory! Their total split was 17 seconds, now that's how you run cross country!

But, wait, there is more. 

TWHS varsity boys made it more of the same. They also won the meet over some stiff competition. They outran some very good Kingwood, Strake JesuitSeven Lakes, North Shore, and Montgomery teams.

The boys placed Ryan Cardinal and Ethan Hammer, their top two runners in the top six with the rest of their pack still putting in work to get across the line. Within a nine second window, TWHS #3-#6 runners would come charging through the finish line for a 1:09 total split.

Perhaps, the best performance of the weekend came from the boys JV team. They would show both varsity squads how it's done. It was clear from the gun what kind of race it would be as the Highlander top six would crash the course side by side for the most part. They would finish first place through sixty place with at perfect 15 point score further demonstrating the Highlander way of running. Their overall split was only an 11 second gap from 1-5, it just doesn't get any better than that.

Miller Grove Boys

You may not be used to hearing much from Miller Grove until November when the state meet rolls around, but we decided to change that. We went to the actual school for the Miller Grove Inv. and oh boy were we in for a treat. One of the best XC atmospheres in the state was on full display and the MG boys did not let down.

They expect to compete to defend their 2017 UIL 1A team state championship and they demonstrated that they are in a very good position to do so. They are currently running without Kobe Robertson their #1 from last season who finished in sixth place over all as a freshman last year.

Let's just say they are doing pretty good for themselves until he is able to return. They added two new freshmen this season who are able to contribute and one of them is even the coach's son and now the #1 freshman in the state with Isaiah Billingsley. The 15:55.66 from this weekend's race puts him as the #52 ranked runner in the state regardless of any kind of class or division.

Miller Grove has a pack of guys ready to defend!

Marcus Boys

Marcus is running very well this year. Part of the improvement is due to a year of experience and strength. The team is fairly young, but they are getting the picture of what it takes to run with the big boys and they have the hang of it.

They were led by a 1-2 finish this week from Joseph Tiller and Aiden Lyons. But, that was all that impressed. Harold Murphey, Carter Reed, and Greyson Gravitt made it five Marcus Marauders in the top ten.

The team ran to a 16:39 team average and a 35 second split to compete the impressive performance. As the season continues, expect Marcus to gain experience and get better as they only have one senior in their top seven.

El Paso Hanks Boys

When you think of Hanks, you think of their super star Michael Abeyta. If there is one thing we have learned this year is that his fellow junior teammate Roger Rivera has put in the work and continued to improve. Now he plans to join the show at the elite level with Abeyta.

Well, school is still in session and the learning must go on. Hanks showed that there is more to them than just Abeyta and Rogers as they took on some of the top El Paso teams this weekend and came out on top.

In the 3 mile race, both of their top runners ran sub 15:00, but the rest of the group pulled their load as well. Andres Perez, Gael Alvarado, and Michael Antuna helped the team run to a 15:44 team average and to the win. If they continue to run like this, watch out for Hanks to possibly ruin the fun of some teams in Region 1-5A.

Frisco Wakeland Girls 

Wakeland is good and there is no denying that. They proved it once again with their showing at the Lake Highlands Inv.

Freshman Chloe Smith and Senior Isabella West led the team with their second place (19:36.38) and fifth place finishes (19:43.22) time. However, more impressive was how the other youngsters performed. The #3-#5 runners finished back to back to back within four seconds. Then a few moments later the #6-#8 did the same thing going back to back to back across the line placing 14th-16th place.

Pittsburg Girls

Pittsburg won the girls varsity race at the Miller Grove Invitational upsetting the 2017 UIL 1A runners-up and home team Miller Grove.

Led by the top ten finishes of juniors Haley Efurd and Sadie Waldrep, Pittsburg was able outlast their competition and give themselves confidence for the remainder of the season and hopes for a state meet berth come November.

Canyon Girls

Canyon is coming! They've been giving signs all year that they are ready for the 2018 season. Well, the season is here and in full effect and the same can be said for Canyon. The girls from the Western part of the state are running fast and having fun.

They have perhaps one of the youngest groups in the state with only one runner in their top seven who isn't a freshman or sophomore. Graduation has left senior Caitlynne Speegle outnumbered by the youngsters on her team, but I doubt she minds it now. The team is young and fast and they added another team win at the Falcon Fast Invitational.

Led by Freshman Breanna Stuart and sophomore Gabbi Davis will take their show to the 4A division this year instead of the normal 5A. Get ready for the blazing girls in purple from the Amarillo area because as I said, they are coming one way or another!

Odessa Girls 

The ladies from Odessa High had a spectacular race this weekend.

They held off a strong charge from home team Abilene and they did so with by placing three girls in the top ten. Kayla Mendoza, Nathalia Escontrias, and Mariana Murrillo helped the team run to a 21:02 team 5K average as they edged out Abilene 34 - 46 for the win.

Katy Cinco Ranch Girls 

Cinco Ranch continues to prepare for what will no doubt be tough district and Region 3-6A battles when October rolls around. 

They showed this past weekend that things are looking good. They were led by their usual #1 Heidi Nielson who was followed by #2 runner Sophie Atkinson who placed third.

The rest of the team demonstrated they are getting ready for the big time meets as they finished back to back to back all within three seconds. That type of team running will be invaluable when championship season gets here and the Cougars are putting in the practice now.

They ran to a 20:15 5K team average and a 2:25 split. The split is a big margin, but when you have one of the best runners in the nation at the front that is to be expected. The key is with the rest of the girls being able to run together and minimize time and other runners between them.

Cinco will be fun to watch come October.