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CONFIDENCE PICKS BY MILESPLIT:
1. Southlake Carroll (TX); 2. Boerne Champion (TX); 3. Kingwood(TX); 3. Prosper (TX); 4. Flower Mound (TX); 5. Coppell (TX)
Teams To Pay Attention To:
- Southlake Carroll (TX): The Dragons didn't qualify for NXN last year. That was only the third time in the 15 year history of the meet that Carroll did not represent Texas or the South Region at the national meet. They are coming fresh off their UIL 6A state championship. They won in dominant fashion by only scoring 45 points with their 18:07 team average and 24 second split. Carroll swept their championship season run of meets by winning districts and regionals on their way to the state meet win. In the regular season, Carroll was runner-up the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic after a 61 > 59 tie breaker, then they won the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival.
- Boerne Champion (TX) : BC is the UIL 5A state champion. Champion put in back-to-back outstanding performances in Corpus Christi and Round Rock for their regional and state meet wins. At state, they ran a 18:15 team average and a 54 second split. Champion is running well and their momentum is strong. Their speed rating from the state meet was the second best behind Carroll's. It leaves a lot to imagine what would have happened if they were in the 6A race. We will get to find out Saturday.
- Kingwood (TX): The team qualified for NXN in 2015 with their second place NXR South team finish behind Southlake Carroll that year. The program is trying to pull it off once again and their second place finish at the UIL 6A state meet gives them plenty of hope that they can do so. They have been progressing week by week, especially during the championship part of the season. Their number one runner has changed about every other week partly due to their progress. The progression arrows are pointing up personally for each girl and they have a legitimate pack running style. Over their last four meets, all of which were major, Kingwood ran splits of 48 seconds (state), 47 seconds (regionals), 31 seconds (district), and 15 seconds (Nike South Inv.). That is a 35 second average; In a race that features teams with the best pack running ability it is critical to be able to keep a low split and Kingwood can do that with the best of them.
- Prosper (TX): The Class 6A squad has been a question mark all season. They haven't really run a fully loaded team until championship season began. So, all of the way up until October, they have been sitting certain girls and just about all of them have sat out races at moments. That wasn't so positive in the early meets, but those meets are insignificant now, as we are now in the post season only the present matters. Prosper has improved in the last couple of meets as they continue to get their health and feel of running together back. Use last year as a reference, Although Prosper started off the season quick and with a bang, it was the championship season where they really hit another level grabbing the third place trophy at state and then securing berth to NXN by placing second at NXR South.
- Grapevine (TX): The girls team had a good season and it ended in a second place UIL 5A girls finish. They are led by their star junior leaders Rachel Sutliff and Caroline Burrow. Their 18:29 team average and 54 second split helped them achieve their second place trophy. Their ability to run tight will keep them in race, but they will have to run fast if they want to place high.
- Coppell (TX): This is one of the teams that gets lost in the team shuffle. However, that is a mistake. They are still just as good as any team on this list and they can still put together a race as good or better than anyone. Their state meet race wasn't as good as they planned, but it wasn't bad either. Their four and five were back a bit, but they still ran with a 36 second split. The regional meet was very good for them and they could bounce back this weekend. If anyone knows the state meet means nothing when NXR South rolls around it is Coppell. They handily won state last year and then finished fourth at last year's NXR South. I'm sure they wouldn't mind flipping the tables this weekend.
- Flower Mound (TX): The Jaguars are another team that shouldn't be overlooked -- even though they were ranked nationally to begin the season. Regionals and state weren't their best races, so that makes other teams currently look better than them. While they are the last to be mentioned, they have looked like the best team in the state for much of the season. They have beaten just about every team in the state or the beat teams who have beat everyone else. Their low stick and number one Natalie Cook is not listed in the meet entries. If she does not run, that could be a major blow to the Jaguars, but they are still a deep and solid team and will challenge for a top spot.
Top Returners From 2018:
4. Brynn Brown (TX); 5. Heidi Nielson (TX); 6. Aubrey O'Connell (TX); 8. Colleen Stegmann (TX); 13. Krianne McBride (TX); 15. Gabi Barrera (TX); 17. Jordan Mathis (TX); 18. Rachel Sutliff (TX); 19. Sadie Carey; 21. Maddie Hatfield; 22. Avery Clover (TX); 23. Allison Buemi (TX); 24. Chloe Hassman (TX); 25. Abigail Parra (TX)
- Brynn Brown, Denton Guyer (TX): Brown is the top returner. She hasn't raced in over a month due to a stress reaction in her metatarsals, causing her to miss the Texas championship season including the state meet. Last year, she qualified individually for both NXN and Foot Locker Nationals, but entering the post season this year is completely different. We will get to see how much health and fitness she has. Brown was a legitimate NXN title contender throughout the season as she ran a 16:12.00. This is a championship race, but could seem like a time trial for Brown.
- Heidi Nielson, Katy Cinco Ranch (TX): Nielson is in the same boat as Brown. Not only is she is a top returner from last year, she is an individual qualifier for both NXN and Foot Locker Nationals. Also, like Brown, she had to cut her season short, missing the Texas championship season and the state meet. Nielson sustained an injury to the shaft of her femur, similar to a Femoral Neck Stress Fracture. Whether or not she still has enough fitness after not running for four weeks will be the test. If she still has the fitness level, look for her to contend, as she has the experience to handle the situation. Nielson has international experience running for Team USA as she qualified for the IAAF World U20 Cross Country Championships and the World U20 Track and Field Championships.
- Aubrey O'Connell, Prosper (TX): Two weeks ago, O'Connell won the UIL 6A individual state championships in 17:05.95. She is the leader of the Prosper group that has been one of the best teams in Texas the last two years and was a NXN team qualifier last year. O'Connell finished in sixth place at last year's NXR South and is healthy and she is clicking for this weekend's race.
- Colleen Stegmann, Frisco Reedy (TX): Stegmann won the UIL 5A individual state championship two weeks ago. She pulled away from the 5A field in 17:17.03 at the state meet and she has proven that she is ready to run with the leaders this weekend. Stegmann finished eighth last year at NXR South, just missing out on an individual qualifying spot. She will be looking to keep that from happening two years in a row.
- Eva Jess, El Paso Franklin (TX): Jess was second at the UIL 6A state meet in 17:12.18. That was her only loss on the season. She will be looking to get back on the winning track this weekend at NXR South. She is a front runner and will take control of her chances from the beginning, so expect to see her in the front of the pack.
- Avery Clover, Atascocita (TX): Avery Clover was third at the UIL 6A state meet in 17:35.88. She has competed in big races this season including some big wins and she could be out for redemption this weekend and looking to get a win. Clover was fourth at Friday Night Lights on this course back in September. She also won the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival in Arkansas this year.
- Maddie Hatfield, Dallas Greenhill (TX): Hatfield last competed at the SPC State Championships two weeks ago when she came out with the win over a very good field. She has competed against the best runners in Texas and finished in the top five in every race this season except for a ninth place finish at McNeil (18:16). Hatfield can qualify out of this group.
- Krianne McBride, Leander Home School (TX): McBride might be overlooked this weekend, but she shouldn't be. She hasn't raced much this season, but she is always ready. McBride was 11th at McNeil where she PRed in 18:21.40. Her last race was well over a month ago at the Homeschool State Championship when she won in 18:23. Is she rusty or rested? We will find out, but she can qualify out of this group.
- Amy Morefield, Lucas Lovejoy (TX): Don't let the small stature fool you! This young lady is as confident and as tough as they come. The Lovejoy freshman has dazzled all season long from the onset of the season when she was sixth at the Marcus I Invitational. She was eighth at McNeil in 18:15.70 and she finished third at the UIL 5A state meet. There are nothing but big finishes and fast times on her season resume all season long. This little freshman is one of the best in the NXR South field!
- Sara Scott, Smithson Valley (TX): Scott has been lurking around of being one of the top performers in Texas all season long. She was fourth at the UIL 6A state meet in 17:47.40. Scott is an assertive runner, but she also has a knack for running composed in big races and letting other runner do the heavy hauling. Scott will be dangerous on Saturday and is capable of getting an individual qualifying position.
Other Athletes To Watch: Carly Ahrens, Kingwood (TX); Emma Curry, Waxahachie (TX); Emily Garcia, Alvarado (TX); Gemma Goddard, Austin Vandefrift (TX); Peyton McQuillan, Magnolia West (TX); Madeline Myers, Klein (TX); Megan Nevlud, Round Rock (TX); Austin Owen, Marcus (TX); Mia Rowe, East View (TX); Emma Saia, Austin Vandegrift (TX); Addison Stevenson, Katy Tompkins (TX); Breanna Stuart, Canyon (TX); Kelsie Vicknair, Boerne Champion (TX); Abigail Wilson, Montgomery (TX); Brenna Zerby, Allen (TX)