The Southlake Invitational had it all. It had some top local DFW competition, some Texas competition from far and wide, as well as out of state competition.
Teams like Coppell, Flower Mound, Kaufman, Keller, Prosper, Hebron, etc provided some local punch and Odessa, El Paso Socorro, and El Paso Hanks came from out west with Austin Westlake from Central Texas. Then, Brea Olinda from California as well as Bentonville and Fayetteville squads from Arkansas.
The course at Bob Jones Park was slightly different from past years and all would be running the new path for the first times. However, there were some usual happenings that we are used to seeing.
Elite Girls 5,000m
The first race on the course was the Elite Girls 5K. The excitement would be take from the race from the early goings. It was Brynn Brown's first race in the state since the 2019 UIL state track meet where she won the 1600m and the 3200m state titles with the latter coming in a new UIL state meet record. So, yeah, we've seen that before.
Brown hit the gas pedal early going for a 5:13 first mile split. That quickly build her a lead as the other Elite girls wisely backed off the early painstaking pace. Brown, the Denton Guyer junior followed that fast first mile split with a 10:57 two mile split and finished with a US No. 7 mark of 17:17.19 winning the race by over a minute.
The rest of the race was a lot closer between the rest of the field. Frisco Reedy junior Colleen Stegmann and Southlake Carroll senior Jenna Holland would lead the chase pack together eventually pulling away from the rest of the girls and duel it out down the stretch to the finish. Stegmann would finish second in 18:18 with Holland close behind in 18:25.
The team race was a typical DFW throw down. The top seven individual girls ran under 19:00 minutes, well the Carroll Dragons squad also averaged a sub 19:00 themselves. They had less points than they had seconds on their 1-5 split. Carroll scored a grand total of merely 45 points with only a 48 split. They had their six and seven runners sitting pretty with 15th and 23rd place finishes just in case they were needed, so nothing new there.
They were followed up by UIL 5A powerhouse Grapevine who used a 19:49 team average to score 163 points and Coppell rounded out the top three teams with a 19:49 team average and score of 178 points.
Elite Boys 5,000m
The elite boys race was a little different from the girls. Actually, it was a lot different. There was no blow out in this one.
These two runners have had polar opposite careers leading up to this race. Abeyta has been a phenom since his freshman year and has won many UIL state medals and has had some top national performance throughout his career. Avila-Martinez has had a quiet career until breaking out last track season and continuing that momentum, so far, this cross country season. Seeing Abeyta as a front runner is a usual occurrence, and Avila-Martinez has also finished in the top pack of races all year long (Friday Night Lights - 3rd and Marcus I - 6th)
The two runners began to separate from the rest of the field with about 800m to go, but couldn't drop each other. They would run down the finish stretch to the excitement of the crowd with Abeyta inching out the win 15:25.84 to 15:26.27.
The rest of the top five boys finishers were sprinting to the finish themselves. Plano East senior Grant Wilcox finished third in 15:34.02 with Nate Lannen of Carroll in fourth 15:35.62, and Fort Worth Paschal's Whit Dennis finished fifth in 15:36.56.
The team race was more of the same with the Carroll boys taking the win. They scored 20 overall points as they dropped a 16:12 team 5K average and as always, a sub 60 second 1-5 split.
Faytetteville (AR) finished second overall due to a 16:40 team average and a more impressive 46 second split.