Inside The Intense Miller Grove Vs. Saltillo Rivalry

Isaiah Billingsley won the 2019 UIL 1A individual title

There are plenty of rivalries in our sport and in our state; i'm sure you know about several of them. They're in the tiny pockets of areas and districts. From South Texas to Dallas and Houston to Amarillo, between SPC and UIL, to TAPPS and even in the Home School league, they rivalries alive.

I have a UIL cross country rivalry that you might be unaware of. The reward for winning this rivalry is a state championship and the second place state meet finish as a consolation might be a disappointment in this rivaly. It's strong and it's getting even stronger and it involves two teams not named The Woodlands or Southlake Carroll.

This rivalry is between two tiny UIL 1A schools, teams, towns.

Only 34 miles separates Miller Grove and Saltillo high schools and that happens to be the average amount of points it has taken to win the last three UIL 1A boys state championships. 

Six of the last five years the state championship trophy has taken the same roads back to East Texas. From 2017 - 2019 and 2015 - 2015 it has belonged to Miller Grove  and in 2016, it went to Saltillo.

Kobe Robertson was the 2019 UIL 1A state meet runner-up

In the last two Miller Grove wins, Saltillo has left Round Rock having to settle for taking the second place trophy back home and in 2018 they were third. In their 2016 win, Miller Gove was the third place finisher.

These teams just aren't meeting up at the state meet, they are facing off at regionals as well. With that much riding on the line, It's safe to say these teams and coaching staffs know each other well.

The upcoming 2020 cross country season will be one for the ages in the UIL 1A boys competition. Both teams return their entire top seven runners from a 2019 state championship that was decided by merely three points (34-37). At last year's state meet, both teams put their first three runners in the top 10 and their four runners finished in the top 13 overall positions. 

Junior Isaiah Billingsley and senior Kobe Robertson both ran sub 16 minutes as they finished 1-2 for Miller Grove. Saltillo's Garrett Tarver is a senior this year; he placed as a top three individual finisher two years straight at state and he has been a menace for Miller Grove.

Garrett Tarver has two consecutive UIL 1A third place individual state meet finishes

Can the talented duo of Billingsley and Robertson add another title to their legacies or will Tarver lead his team back to the top by overtaking the three peat champions? This past weekend, at the Commerce Tiger Invite, Tarver won the meet by opening his season with a 16:41.63. Saltillo finished third overall with a 18:48 team average, and Miller Grove was fourth without their dynamic duo and All-State number three runner Lance Davis finished fourth overall.

After week one of the season, the best two 1A teams in the state are continuing this rivalry and already going heads up. But, both teams know that November and Round Rock is where the prize will be won.