Does Eastwood And Flower Mound Deserve At-Large NXN Bids?

It's too premature to really decipher if it will happen or even how much of a realization it could be just yet. There are four NXRs (California, Northeast, New York, Southeast) that still have to compete to decide who will get automatic bids from those regions.

There are only four at-large bids up for grabs. Several teams across the country will hope to be in receipt of one of them, but they are definitely premium.

We think there are a couple of Texas teams that could be in the conversation of getting an at large bid.

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Girls At-Large Possibilities

Flower Mound needs help them from the favorite teams in the four regions who haven't competed yet to take care of business. If the favorites win, that would limit the amount of quality teams who will probably get preference from the committee.

For that, they will need Newbury Park, Great Oak, and Buchanan to come through with the top three spots in the California Region. It's likely, that whichever team doesn't finish in the top two will get a bid. All three teams are ranked in the MileSplit50 top 25 girls teams.

It's highly possible two of the other spots are already likely taken as well. Niwot (CO) and Yorkville (IL) both failed to qualify as automatic bids, but are both ranked teams as well.

The Flower Mound girls have had a good season. They started things off very well including a win at Marcus I Invitational when they beat both Southlake Carroll and Prosper who qualified out of the South Region. The win over Carroll could be significant because Carroll went on to tie with Buchanan for the win at Woodbridge Cross Country Classic to lose by tie breaker 59 < 61. At the same meet, they beat Great Oak.

Flower Mound ran extremely well at NXR South. They finished in third place behind Prosper and Carroll. Their total score was 142 points, 43 points behind second place and 47 behind first place.

The Flower Mound number five runner added 46 points to the point total. The team ran without their number one runner Natalie Cook. Cook hasn't finished less than fifth place (UIL 6A State Meet) all season long and won over all of the top five runners this season except Brynn Brown. With Cook, Flower Mound would have definitely made the team race even more interesting and would have possibly been in position for their second straight NXR Title.

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Boys At-Large Possibilities

The boys with chances for the at-large bids are El Paso Eastwood and Flower Mound. Both squads are very good and have shown that they can run very well and competitively.

Eastwood was the best team on paper coming out of the UIL state meet. They dropped a wild and crazy performance to win their second straight 5A state title. The Troopers went 15:19 as a team with a 29 second split. That helped them look unbeatable going into last weekend's NXR South.

The race would unfold like no other race Eastwood would run for the past two seasons. The tight pack running that they were accustomed to running went out the window and that heavily impacted their outcome. Their first two runners finished 12th and 14th just a second a part. The other three scorers would finish further back than usual with their third runner 28 seconds back, fourth 48 seconds back, and the fifth runner was 55 second behind. While that isn't a bad split, it's just not the Eastwood way of running and in this race, they needed to be at their best.

How strong is their case for the committee compared to the rest of the national teams? Eastwood has competed in national level meets this season with Woodbridge and Desert Twilight. Eastwood finished behind both NXN qualifying team from the South. Southlake beat them at Woodbridge where Eastwood was sixth and The Woodlands won Desert Twilight and beat them where they finished seventh.

As for the Flower Mound boys, they looked completely unbeatable throughout much of the year. When you talk about fast and a small team split, they could have been named with the best of them.  However, the last couple of meets have posed challenges for the Jaguars. 

NXR South was a strong performance for Flower Mound. They ran a 16:12 team average and a 1:07 split, a far cry from the outstanding running they have done this year, but on a slow course and with a lot of competition going on, still a very good outing.

Flower Mound lost to Southlake Carroll at Regionals, State, and NXR South, but they have two wins over them at the beginning of the season. Flower Mound would likely need to get the committee nod over Eastwood as well. 

We will see if the committee awards either or both teams. Both are two of the top in our state and one has competed well all season long including two top national meets one that has competed well all season, but hasn't competed at any national level meets.