Highland Park turned in a strong performance this weekend at the Flower Mound Invitational
The 2019 season ended with a lot of 5A girls teams looking extremely strong. Many of the top five squads from the state meet were young and would return the majority of their scorers for this year.
That put state champions Boerne Champion as the preseason favorites with runners-up Grapevine right there, practically neck and neck with them. Both teams have high expectations this year and no doubt with one or both have something to say about who is crowned this year.
However, there are more strong teams in 5A who will do all but lay down and just crown either one of those programs without putting in a maximum effort.
At the beginning of the season, we saw statement performances from the Canyon Randall and Georgetown girls. Last week, we saw Lovejoy and Dripping Springs both run impressively and take down both Boerne Champion and Grapevine at the McNeil Invite. Also last week, Colleyville Heritage ran far above expected expectations as they pressed defending UIL 6A champs Southlake Carroll.
So, which one of those teams is the best in the 5A classification? Well, it's possible the none of them are.
While the other teams have been going head to head and getting some high profile meet races in, the Highland Park (HP) girls have been quietly running in a DFW circuit. They've made very little noise, but they have been laying a foundation just as strong as all of the other programs as they run the kinks out from not competing since March and prepare for not too far away post season.
The Scots won the Flower Mound Invitational in dominant fashion on Saturday. They ran against some of the best programs in Texas, who although they might not have run their complete top squads, it made very little difference to HP. They still lined up and when the gun went off, so did they, nearly running to a perfect score.
HP has what it takes to win a state title; they have a legit low stick runner in Cameron Fawcett. Fawcett, the 2019 UIL 5A eighth place finisher wrecked yesterday's race setting a hard early pace and never stepping off the gas until she crossed the finish line in 17:55, nearly 50 seconds ahead of second place.
That second place finisher - well, that was her HP teammate. So was third place, and fifth, and the sixth place finisher. HP put their entire five scorers in the top six along with sixth runner Grace Hathaway in eighth.
They put on a cross country clinic Saturday with their demonstration of competing as a team. HP finished with a 18:46 team average for the 5K distance. They had a 1:17 1-5 split, but the 27 seconds between the 2-5 runners is what will have them in contention for a possible state title in November.
HP's plan of attack is to run tight as a pack, which they exhibited this weekend. "I think we did great, we worked really well as a team, we can definitely do better, but I'm excited to see what we can do from here," senior Isabel Blaylock said.
HP runners could be seen in packs throughout the race. Fawcett said, "that's pretty much our race plan for the season, we try to close as many gaps as possible."
The UIL 5A girls race may be the most exciting when the state meet rolls around. There are several quality challengers, but one thing for sure is they you can't count out Highland Park.