The McNeil Invite is always one of the alluring meets of the season. It's the name, the mystique, and the chance to get your athletes an opportunity to compete on the stat meet course against some of the best teams and individual athletes in the state.
This year, the meet was just as big as it has historically been. With up to 658 athletes in race, there was no shortage of competition.
McNeil is know for being short of a true 5K distance, but that was not the case this year. It perhaps was a little longer in both distances. Athletes and teams got a clearer picture of where they are and the level of competition they are ready for.
This year, the course changed to what it was a three years ago, which made it a good idea for teams to come get a feel for what may likely be the state meet route.
The first race of the day was the varsity boys Gold race. The field was loaded with a lot of the state's most talented runners and just straight up loaded.
The field saw 658 boys toe the line. Those who were lucky to not get knocked down had a chance to get to the lead pack.
As the runners matriculated through out the race, there was a lead pack of 5-6 that broke away from the rest of the field and by time they hit the 800m mark, there was only four (Jarrett Kirk, Abraham Avila-Martinez, Jonathan Chung, and Whit Dennis).
The season's top ranked runner, Kirk made a move to separate from the field and Martinez tried to match it as the two came sprinting down the home stretch to the finish line. They went 1 - 2 with Chung and Dennis and Flower Mound senior Thomas Romanow rounding out the top five.
In the end, there were 37 boys to run 16:00 and under, 13 to go 15:40 under, eight to go 15:30 and under, and four to go sub 15:20,
Team wise, it was Flower Mound dominating the race! They placed three runners in the top ten and a fourth runner 15th over all and their fifth runner finished ahead of everyone's second runner except for second place Katy Seven Lakes' number two.
To get an idea how strong this 2019 group of Flower Mound boys are, just look at the stat line. They ran a 15:32 team average and a 49 second split on the long course.
The girls Gold race was loaded just like the boys was. However the 8:30 start made the very competitive race a tough one to participate in with the heat and humidity cranking up for the day.
It looked like we would have a Brynn Brown vs London Culbreath battle. However, Culbreath was not able to navigate the 505 athlete filed as well as Brown. Brown jetted out ahead of the entire field waiting on no one, and Culbreath took an early tumble and fell.
The Denton Guyer junior added another win to her season resume with a 16:57.10 cruise around Old Settler's Park as she won by 48 seconds over the rest of the field.
Despite the heat and long course, 29 girls ran sub 19:00, 13 girls under 18:40, and eight girls 18:15 and under.
The team race saw Flower Mound win it's second Gold championship race of the day as the girls were led by their sophomore duo of Cook and Allison Buemi with their third and 12th overall finished to help score 150 points with a 18:50 team average.
The part of the race that will gave us a lot to look forward to was runner-up Boerne Champion who scored 216 points and third place Grapevine who scored 235 points. The two UIL 5A teams were closer than the score shows. Champion had a team average of 19:18 and a 41 second 1-5 split and Grapevine had a 19:21 team average and a 45 second 1-5 split making the upcoming November match up back at Old Settler's Park a possible good one.
6A Girls Race
The 6A girls race was the Clear Falls showcase. They had the individual race winner in Kennedy Wade, but they also had Victoria Ruiz and Sophia Strange back her up with their third and fourth place finishes. That helped seal the team win for the lady Knights to the win. Flower Mounds second seven was right behind Clear Falls by eight points with Eagle Pass in third.
6A Boys Race
Kyle Lehman senior Jose Cano ran away with the in as he dialed in a 16:10.60 win. It took a little while for the rest of the field to come in after Cano, but when they did, the field provided a very close finish with three runners finishing with in a second of one another. In the end, it was another team win for Flower Mound as freshman Riley Nedrow led the squad with his fourth place finish en route to their 106 point total. Laredo Nixon, Laredo Alexander, and Eagle Pass finished in a close second through fourth place spots.
5A Girls Race
Magnolia West senior Peyton McQuillan took the victory with a 18:55.60 to win by over seconds. She was followed by Georgetown duo Mckenzie Bailey and Avery Hill in second and third as they propelled their squad to the team win.
5A Boys Race
Sophomore Chrisopher Riley of Austin McCallum and freshman Julio Garcia of Laredo Cigarroa showed that this race belonged to the young. They finished first and second with junior Daniel Morales in a tie for third. It was another team win for Georgetown as they scored 157 points. Garcia led his Cigarroa team to a tie with San Antonio Alamo Heights as Ciagarroa took the tie breaker 57<67.
4A Girls Race
Celina sophomore Adele Clarke added another victory to her impressive 2019 season. Clarke won with a 12:29.60. Argyle came up with the team win over some big time programs as they only scored 107 points.
4A Boys Race
Huffman Hargrave senior Peyton Pluenneke continued his great season as well. He added the McNeil win in 16:30.20 with Zapata's Adan Jonjuitud in second and Liberty Hill's Gabriel Diaz in third. Diaz led is Liberty Hill squad to the team win.
1A - 3A Girls
San Antonio Cole freshman Finley Hunting introduced herself to the big stage with a 13:41 win followed by San Saba junior Brighton Adams. Several teams put two runners in the top 10, but it was Lago Vista who used a 45 second split to take the team win by only scoring 68 points.
1A - 3A Boys
The IDEA Edinburg boys had a perfect race last week at the Islander Splash and looked to continue the momentum this week. Their top two guys Hugo Chavarria and Jose Suarez went 1-2 in the race and they looked like thy were on their way to another big win. However, Great Hearts-Downtown Campus of San Antonio are state champs and weren't having that. They went 3-4 overall and placed two more runners in the top 10 for the 20 point win.