It's mid September and the cross country season is in full effect nation wide. This weekend, in Denton, Texas, we will see a great example of the XC madness going on across the country this fall. The MileSplit TX Invitational will be one of the top meets state wide as well as nationally.
The talent will there and there are several key match ups you'll want to keep an eye on. Here are five of the best storylines happening this weekend.
1. Brown vs. Cook & O'Connell
The girls race will be legit and there could be some new state leading performances coming from this weekend's race.
Obviously, Brynn Brown is one to keep an eye on. She took off from the gun last week at the Southlake Carroll Invitational using a 5:13 first mile to set a hard pace eventually leveling out to a 17:17 win. That was just her opening race of the season. With one race now under her belt, she could really blast something fast this weekend.
Brown will have a tougher and more competitive field to contend with this weekend. Super sophomores like Flower Mound's Natalie Cook, Prosper's Aubrey O'Connell will both be in the race. Both girls had the weekend off last week and had a chance to watch Brown run.
Cook and O'Connell have the jets to keep pace with Brown as they are both sub 4:52 (1600m) and sub 10:48 (3200m) runners from last track season. Each of the two girls had last weekend off and now they could be feeling rested enought to push the pace and Brown to a very fast race.
2. Deep Boys Field
Jarrett Kirk is a state champion and the young man has a knack for producing exciting races. He has a sneaky kick and he has proven that no lead is safe with him in the race. However, he is not the only good boys runner in the field.
There are 20 boys who have run 16:00 and under. Kirk has a couple of Flower Mound teammates who are all capable of pulling an upset in a race where they have nothing to lose. Thomas Romanow, Jacob Ricks, and Jonathan Flint will all be in the front pack and could be in position for the win.
Keller's Luke Canon has been running well in the early goings of this season. He has a 15:28 PR that will allow him to stick around in the entire race.
Keller Central senior Victor Neiva is another sleeper to watch in the race. He ran a 15:12 at last year's 3 mile distance on this very course for a runner-up finish. Expect him to go for the win this weekend.
Odessa Permian senior Josh Garcia has run in some big races this season, Boerne Champion junior Foster Wilfong will look to get a big time, Denton Guyer senior Marc Quintanilla has had some big races this season, Texarkana Texas High senior Owen Likins is a straight up stud, and SPC star from Dallas St. Marks senior Pablo Arroyo likes beating UIL runners. There will be no shortage of excitement in the boys race.
3. Girls, Girls, And More Girls
Are the Texas girls better than the Texas boys this year?
Who knows as there is really no definitive way to prove that and who cares. But, what we do know is that the girls are fast and deep this year. This meet could show how good this season will eventually be.
Outside of the previously mentioned trio of Brown, Cook, and O'Connell, there are four other girls who have run in the 17s in their career.
Greenhill senior and East Carolina University commit Maddie Hatfield has a 17:47 PR and a 18:53 SB from Southlake last weekend. She'll be joined by Sadie Carey from Weatherford who has a 17:53 PR, Krianne McBride of Leander Home School who has a 17:57 PR, and Tatum Castillo of Prosper who also has a 17:57 PR who will all be looking to maximize the benefits of the field to get a fast time on this season.
4. Girls Team Match Up
We not only have some of the best teams in the state, but we have some top 25 nationally ranked girls teams in the race.
Prosper (20) and Flower Mound (21), are both ranked in the MileSplit 50 XC Rankings and both qualified for NXN last season. Prosper has yet to run a full squad, but still has talent enough to still be competitive and Flower Mound has a strong core.
They will get challenges from state ranked teams in the smaller UIL classifications.
Canyon is the 2018 defending UIL 4A state champion. Even though they compete at 3200m at the state meet, they run the 5K and they do it well. We already know they are led by a talented duo, but Coach Baca also has some experience and some youth that will allow his team to challenge for the team win.
The Boerne Champion girls are the 2018 UIL 5A girls runner-ups. They were only eight points from winning it all last year and they are back to aim for the win in 2019. This weekend will be a good measuring stick as they have good teams to gauge themselves off of. They have a team 5K average of 19:34 this season and that could get faster this weekend. They will make a good match up in the team battle.
The Grapevine girls were sixth last year at the UIL 5A state meet, but they are even better already this year than last. Coach Miller's girls already have things rolling this year. They have a 19:46 team 5K average this year and their top three girls are all under 20 minutes this season.
5. Boys Team Match Up
The Flower Mound boys aren't nationally ranked, but trust me they should be and they soon will be. Statistically, so far this season, they are the best team in the state. We have them ranked #1 in Texas boys rankings and it is justified.
Keller is also a highly ranked boys team. They have yet to run at full strength, but their 2018 team results show that they can get things rolling when they need to.
Boerne Champion has been running in the San Antonio/Austin area all season long, but we will get to see how they stack up against some of the DFW big dawgs.
Champion has a quality low stick and then a good top four runners. They have flashed a 16:30 team average this year and this weekend's competition could show us how good they actually are right now.