Last night, The Nike Committee released their individual and team qualifiers for next weekend's meet. In that group was our El Paso Eastwood Troopers receiving one of the four team at-large bids and Graydon Morris as an individual at-large.
Heading into the South Regional meet, it was known that only two teams could get automatic qualifying bids and there would be two teams who could potentially be faced with waiting on the at-large announcements.
Eastwood was third this year at the NXR South region behind Southlake Carroll (SLC) and The Woodlands (TWHS). Both teams finished first and second at the UIL State meet. However, the UIL 5A winning Troopers were just outside of the two automatic qualifying spots by 11 points.
The go ahead nod for Eastwood could have been due their outstanding state meet performance. That elevated them far above their season average performances in speed ratings as well as team average. It was well ahead of both SLC and TWHS heading into NXR South. Having another solid performance against SLC and TWHS could have further impressed the NXN decision makers.
Last season, was Eastwood's first ever NXN team qualifying bid. They finished last as a team and have been vocal about getting back and showing they are better than that showing. Now, they will get their opportunity. Eastwood's strength is their ability to run fast and tight. They have had extremely tight splits over the last two seasons and they have gotten faster as a team. Their two legitimate low stick runners of Elias Perez and Juan Olmos have consistently lead the team this season.
Getting an individual bid was Graydon Morris. Morris didn't even compete in the NXR South qualifying meet, but was still able to receive a bid. He will now have to inform the committee on whether he will either accept or deny the bid. Morris received an at-large bid last year as well and denied the invitation.
Morris, the Aledo senior has been one of the most impressive post meet runners in history having qualified for the Foot Locker Nationals all four of his high school seasons. He finished second at the National meet as a sophomore and third as a junior and now has his eyes on the National Championship.
Yesterday, he cemented himself in Foot Locker history by becoming only the second to ever qualify for the boys championship race four times, joining Jorge Torres. Morris has never competed in one of the Nike races. Now, as a senior, it will be interesting to see if he accepts this bid.