Friday nights and their lights are typically owned by football down here in Texas. In fact the phrase was coined and made famous by the sport.
However, this Friday, the lights will belong to cross county. The Woodlands' annual Friday Night Lights meet will be one of the big draws of this weekend.
The meet usually officially opens the season each year for teams in the Houston area. Just two years ago, the annual meet was disturbed because of the mother nature effects of Hurricane Harvey. But, as of last season, the meet resumed and is just about bigger and better than ever.
Teams from all over the state will travel to Bear Branch Park to compete. Houston area teams will again be joined by San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and teams from other parts of Texas to get some early season competition that will be as good as there will be anywhere else nationally this weekend. They race at the 2 mile and 4,000m distances.
Each and every race will be ultra competitive, but the elite varsity races will be quite the shows in the evening finales. In fact, NXR South, the last race of the year is at this very park and has the best athletes from several states competing. This Friday Night Lights race could rival the upcoming NXR race in terms of overall talent.
Miller Grove, the UIL 1A girls team runner-ups from 2018 and the boys team champions will come to get some action this weekend. They'll bring the UIL 1A 3200m record holder Jorja Bessonett to compete.
Some of the top ranked UIL 6A teams will also compete heads up this weekend. Of course The Woodlands girls and boys teams will be competing. Both of their squads will be present including some of the runners from the four time defending boys state champion Highlander boys.
Southlake Carroll will also compete. Their girls enter the season as MileSplit's Preseason #1 team in 6A. The boys are the #2 ranked preseason team in the state and they have finished as the state runner-up in the last four seasons and were state champ each of the five seasons prior to that. Nate Lannen is their top runner and he will no doubt be in the front of the pack and could win the individual race.
The Coppell girls and boys squads will bring their heat to the meet. The girls are the defending 6A state champions. They only graduated one from their top five and they will get their first chance on the road to defending their title tomorrow night. The boys team is extremely good as well. They have two of the top runners in Texas leading the way for them in Evan Caswell and Jackson Walker.
Prosper's two teams both had good seasons last year as they made huge strides of improvement. The boys graduated a couple of top runners, but will still be strong and could surprise a lot of the Houston area teams and runners who don't know who they are. The girls, well, their improvement took them not only to a trophy winning performance at state (3rd overall), but it also saw them qualify for NXN and compete with the best teams in the nation. Their All-State and nationally ranked top runner Aubrey O'Connell could be competing and if so, she will no doubt be a front runner.
Flower Mound is an extremely hot program right now. Over the last several years, they have been extremely active and effective on the state and national scene. Even though they graduated several runners over the years, they have still maintained their prominence. This weekend, their preseason #2 girls team led by All-State and nationally ranked top runner Natalie Cook.
Austin Vandegrift will also travel in with several other Austin area teams. Vandegrift has two state ranked teams including our preseason #4 girls team. They will be led by All-State runner and last year's eighth place finisher Jordan Mathis. Their boys team will be led by NXN qualifier Anthony Monte.
Bridgeland is a team who won't be traveling too far to compete. The girls #3 ranked team is located in the Houston area and they will add to the mix of explosive talent to compete Friday night.
There are several other top individuals that could be competing this weekend making this a meet you do not want to miss!