Every year, it seems like The Texas Distance Festival (TDF) gets better and better. Next weekend's edition might just be the best one yet.
Judging by the still-forming start lists, this year's elite boys and girls 5K races could out-perform the top two performing 2017 and 2019 seasons.
Girls Elite 5K Entries:
The featured racer in the TDF Girls 5K will be Brynn Brown. The Denton Guyer junior blazed a 16:25.467 meet record last season. Since then, she has gone on to break the Texas UIL state 3200m record. More recently, she ran a 9:58.58 last weekend at the Coppell Relays.
Also returning, and running faster than the previous meet record last year, is Flower Mound sophomore Natalie Cook. Cook ran 16:39.41 for a runner-up finish last year, and went on to finish third at the UIL state meet in the 1600m and was second in the 3200m. This fall, she was fifth at the state cross country meet.
Another top returner is Frisco Reedy junior and the Gatorade Player of the Year for the 2020 Texas Cross Country season, Colleen Stegmann. Stegmann finished fourth last year in 16:50.09. That is good enough for the TDF fifth all-time best performance. She later finished the track season with runner-up finishes at the UIL 5A state meet in both the 1600m and the 3200m. This past fall, she won the UIL 5A state cross country championship and qualified for NXN.
There are more girls who will add to the level of competition in this year's 5K race, including several who enjoyed post-season success.
- Avery Clover (Humble Atascocita) - 19th place Foot Locker and 40th place NXN Finish
- Eva Jess - (El Paso Franklin) - 56th NXN finish
- Katherine McElaney - (Soutlake Carroll) - 119th NXN Finish
- Aubrey O'Connell - (Prosper) - 83rd place NXN Finish
Boys Elite 5K Entries:
Several of the top distance runners in the nation are Texas born and bred and all of the top Lone Star runners will be present here, in addition to a dynamic national draw.
Josh Methner will enter as the favorite to win the race. The Notre Dame signee is the 2019 Illinois 3A cross country state champion, the Foot Locker Nationals champion and runner up at Nike Cross Nationals.
Joining Methner are several other national runners who had cross country post-season success.
- Colton Sands - (Pennsylvania) - 10th place Foot Locker finish
- Parker Wolfe - (Colorado) - 12th place Foot Locker finish
- John Higinbotham - (Georgia) - 17 place Foot Locker finish
Awaiting them will be a host of accomplished Texas runners, who enjoyed post-season success themselves over the last two seasons.
Ryan Schoppe is the top finisher from the 2019 TDF races. He ran 14:27.58 last season for a runner-up finish behind Alex Maier and then won the UIL 6A championship in the 3200m and the UIL 6A state championship in cross-country. The Oklahoma State signee finished 15th at NXN and was recently named the Texas Gatorade Player of the Year in cross country.
Aledo senior Graydon Morris also had another great cross country finish. The Texas signee won his third consecutive cross country UIL 5A state title and finished fourth at the Foot Locker Nationals. Morris was third at last year's TDF in 14:27.95.
Melissa junior Judson Greer is also slated to compete. He won his second straight UIL 4A state cross country championship in the fall and then finished runner-up at NXR South, won Foot Locker South, placed 26th at NXN, and fifth Foot Locker Nationals. Last weekend, Greer ran a US#1 8:56.99 in the 3200m.
Other notable Texans in the field include:
- Anthony Monte - (Austin Vandegrift) - 12th place NXN finish
- Abraham Avila-Martinez - (Austin San Juan Diego) - 36th place NXN finish
- Spencer Cardinal - (The Woodlands) - 32nd NXN finish
- Ethan Hammer - (The Woodlands) - 58th NXN finish
- Nate Lannen - Southlake Carroll) - 71st NXN finish
- Antonio Florcruz - (Southlake Carroll) - 82nd NXN finish
- Tim McElaney - (Southlake Carroll) - 93rd NXN finish
- Ben Shearer - (The Woodlands Christian) - 120th NXN finish
- Elias Perez - (El Paso Eastwood) - 157th NXN finish
- Sergio Leon Cuartas - (El Paso Eastwood) - 166th NXN finish
- Juan Olmos - (El Paso Eastwood) - 169th NXN finish
- Evan Caswell - (Coppell) - 4th place finish UIL 6A state meet
- Roger Rivera - (El Paso Hanks ) - 3rd place UIL 5A state meet
- Gavin Saacke - (Katy Tompkins) - 6th place UIL 6A state meet
- Thomas Romanow - (Flower Mound) - 19th place UIL 6A state meet
- Jarrett Kirk - (Flower Mound) - 21st place UIL 6A state meet