The 2018 UIL state cross country meet was as exciting and as good as any in the country. There were tons of outstanding performances and accomplishment.
Find out what we thought were the most surprising moments of the meet.
Coppell Girls Win 6A Team Title
I think it is safe to say nobody knew who would win the 6A girls championship. There were several teams in the mix. The DFW teams have been at the top of the rankings and have taken turns beating one another all season long.
Coppell started the 2018 season in a big way. They hit big at the Friday Night lights and Marcus I, then they continued on through the mud and rain weeks. They ran well at Woodbridge -- but then they kind of seemed to settle in performance wise.
The last time they hit the Old Settlers Park course, things didn't exactly turn out as positive as you might think for the state champs. They placed third behind Prosper and Southlake Carroll. Then, they finished second at their district meet and in the fourth and final qualifying spot at the Region 1 meet.
However, their mindset and their staff wasn't down and out. They regrouped and came out hard for the state meet.
As the rest of the powerhouse DFW teams were jostling for position in the state meet race and scrambling to try to get the top spot, Coppell ran strong to the front at the beginning of the race and didn't look back until the win was in hand.
Austin LBJ Comes Out Of Nowhere
Perhaps, you thought I was crazy when I wrote about watching out for Austin LBJ. If you did, then you are clearly more shocked than I am.
I knew their top three were good and I knew their back end was running well and were progressing at the right time. However, if I told you I knew they'd crash the 5A boys party like they did, then I'd be fibbing.
The state meet was basically a home meet for these guys. LBJ ran like they had a home course advantage. They got out strong and held on to a third position through the first two miles and made a late race push to take second place overall in the team standings.
Every team needs a low stick runner, but Cameron Kleiman and Yaseen Abdalla were both low sticks and combined for only three points for the team with their second and third place individual finishes. The two crossed the line ahead of several of more well known names in the state. When that happened, you could see the surprise looks on the faces of fans at the finish line.
Furthermore, the rest of the LBJ guys made a mad rush in the second half of the race towards the finish to upset several teams and come away with second overall. With only one guy who had previously run at state, LBJ did the unthinkable coming out of nowhere and ending up on the awards stand and the best team finish in the biggest two UIL classes by an Austin area boys team ever.
Great Hearts Monte Vista 2A Boys, Canyon 4A Girls And Eastwood 5A Boys Were Dominant
There are always going to be teams that are heads and shoulders better than everyone else. However, the way that Great Hearts Monte Vista boys, Canyon girls, and the El Paso Eastwood boys completely controlled their races was impressive.
Great Hearts Monte Vista only scored 40 points. For a state meet to be won with 40 points is impressive. They put their top four runners in the top ten. When four of your five scorers are All-State, you know it's a good day. To add to that, their fifth runner contributed only 19 points to the team score. It's almost impossible to win a meet at this this level with that stat.
Canyon was equally as impressive. They placed two girls in the top ten and on the All-State team. Their fifth runner also only added 19 points to the team. If that wasn't the nail in the coffin, their 37 second team split made it almost impossible for any other team to overcome. Canyon finished off an undefeated 2018 season, if that isn't domination, I don't know what is.
Eastwood has also had an outstanding season. They have shown their ability to consistently run a tight pack. They have produced impressive splits from day one, even dropping a 9 second 1-5 split at one point of the season.
At the state meet, their split was a race best 30 seconds. Then they averaged 15:42 for the 5K as their #5 ran 16:00 and only contributed 21 points to the team score.
All Good Things Must Come To An End
Entering the 2018 season, we knew there were several teams that were looking to continue their state championship streaks.
Beginning with Class 2A there were teams who had winning streaks of at least two or more looking to be extended.
In 2A, the Sundown girls and boys have both won the last two girls and boys 2A titles. They entered the state meet with impressive squads, but they were chased by some very talented squads. The 2A girls title was won by an impressive San Saba squad and Great Hearts Monte Vista ended the boys reign.
The 3A division saw East Bernard girls going for their third title as well, but that was brought to an end by their seventh place finish. A talented Tulia team won the team title this year with a close win over Wall. The 3A boys saw the winningest team in Texas UIL history with the Luling boys in search for their unbelievable 9th title. It also wasn't to be as they finished fifth overall as Eustace impressively ran to a 65 point win.
In Class 4A, the Bandera girls were going for title number five. They dominated 4A for four straight seasons, but their streak was brought to an end with their fourth place finish. The 4A title was won by a dominating Canyon performance. San Elizario was also going for their fourth straight 4A boys title. They were taken down by two strong regional foes as Decatur and Andrews ran in a big two way clash as San Ellie finished third overall.
Lucas Lovejoy was gunning for their third straight 5A boys title. They faced a deep and quality field. They ran well all season long as they did Saturday. They were unable to come away with a third win, but they still managed a third place overall finish.
The Woodlands Unexpectedly Wins 4th Straight State 6A State Title
It may not seem like this is a big deal, but it is. This wasn't your typical win by The Woodlands. In fact, it wasn't your typical The Woodlands season.
Annually, you can find the Highlanders at the top of preseason rankings and the expectation is usually for them to contend for the win.
This season was not the same case. They entered the polls as the 13th ranked team in the state rather that the top spot that they're used to.
However, as the season progressed, so did The Woodlands. They took the necessary and patient steps to climb higher and higher. Those steps and that climb was perhaps happening in their minds only. The rest of the state still had not given much consideration to looking out for The Woodlands.
It wasn't until September 22, that they began to look like they were ready for the second half of the season. On that day, at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival, they ran to 16:05 average and a 55 second split. They followed that up with a runner-up finish at the Nike South Invitational behind Flower Mound.
However, many still were not considering them a state title contender. It wasn't until their Region 2 win that the were being considered a possible contender. Yet, they still came in as distant underdogs on Saturday morning. They were sitting in fifth place at the mile marker and then moved up throughout the race. At the two mile, they had moved into the second position and eventual hit the finish line with another win.
The Woodland were the three time champions at the end of last season. At the beginning of this season, they were nowhere near the top team in the state, but Saturday, they were once again the state champions.