The UIL 5A state meet was about as impressive of a meet as they come. There were furious team battles and individual races that were so good only a movie script could write them better.
Both races had defending champions returning in both genders for team and individual races. Last year's 5A team champions won their first state championships and were looking to repeat.
We no doubt witnessed performances that will shape the post season. The 5A teams and individuals will be major players in racing for national championship qualifying positions.
Girls Championship Race
Gracie Morris (Aledo), Colleen Stegmann (Frisco Reedy), and Amy Morefield (Lovejoy) were the major players in pushing the pace. A hard pace was set early and runners began to fall off, "I just kind of ran from the front, I think we started to separate from the pack around a mile and a half," Stegmann said.
After a while, it was all Stegmann and Morris vying for the win as the rest of the field worked for the other positions. After a while it was all Stegmann and the clock, "I knew I had to get ahead because I knew Gracie has a kick, so I knew I had to be in front."
Both Stegmann and Morris have the current fitness to impact the upcoming championship races. Freshman Amy Morefield is young, but she is definitely a fearless runner and all you need is to be in position at this time of year.
The girls team battle was up for grabs this year. With several strong teams looking to get the win and dethrone Frisco Wakeland, it was Boerne Champion who seized the day.
The Champion girls ran a 18:15 team average to the accumulation of 51 points and the win. They were led by senior Kelsie Vicknair and her fifth place All-State finish as well as sophomore Kate Williams who finished ninth.
Champion's other three scoring runners were all in the top 25, helping to solidify the win. Sophomore Anastacia Gonzales (16th), freshman Grace Flores (21st), and sophomore Katie Houck (24th) had fantastic races and helped get the win with a 54 second 1 - 5 split.
Grapevine has had a great 2019 season and they continued that success at the state meet. They finished with 80 points for second place. Led by their two junior leaders Caroline Burrow (11th) and Rachel Sutliff (14th), the Lady Mustangs ran a 18:29 team average with a 54 second split.
In third place was Amarillo. Brooke Latham led her squad with her 26th place finish. Amarillo ran a 18:59 team average and they dipped under 60 seconds with their 57 second 1 -5 split to total 167 points to take a trophy home.
If any of these teams can continue their impressive running, they could impact some of the 6A teams who plan to qualify for NXN.
Boys Championship Race
Abeyta took the race out from the start, leading through the mile marker at a 4:34 split. That was just the beginning as the two stars continued to push the pace. Abeyta continued to lead most of the race, but Morris responded with at late push to take the lead. The two super stars raced up, down, and around Old Settlers until the crossed they crossed the finish line with only a second separating the two as Morris won 14:33.43 to Abeyta's 14:34.61.
The boys 5A race was dominated by El Paso runners. Hanks stars Abeyta and Rivera were the second and third place finishers, but joining them in the top was an El Paso Eastwood duo of Juan Olmos (5th - 15:01) and Elias Perez (6th - 15:03). Further solidifying the El Paso dominance was the top non senior runner Eastlake sophomore Israel David and his seventh place finish in 15:05.
Morris has been a national level impact each of his four years at Aledo. Abeyta hasn't had the fortune to say the same. He is healthy and looks fit as a fiddle and this year will be different. Runners like Rivera, Muirhead, and possibly the youngster Davis could be major factors as well in the South races.
In the team race, we saw perhaps the best team in the state run in this race. Eastwood had substantial back up to support their two Top 10 racers. They had their three through five runners place ahead of every team's second runner except for Grapevine's. Their four and five runners both ran 15:31 leading Eastwood to a 15:19 team average and a 29 second 1 - 5 split earning them their second consecutive UIL 5A state title.
Speaking of Grapevine, they finished in second place. They returned only one runner from last year's fifth place squad, however a team full of sophomores ran stronger, closer, and faster than last year's squad. Led by Walker St. John's 14th place finish and 15:19. The Mustangs ran an impressive 15:44 team average with a 47 second split.
Boerne Champion finished in third place with a 15:49 team average and a 39 second split. They were led by Foster Wilfong's 15:32 and 22nd place finish.
Will Eastwood be another major player in the post season? Their state meet race should have them entering NXR South as the favorite. Is that a scenario they are ready to assume? We shall see.