Taj Lee (2291) and his San Antonio Johnson boys won the Region 4-6A Boys race last year. They will be hard to knock off this year
There will be a couple of things to look for at the Region 4 Championships. Every two years, realignment usually totally flips Region 4 and this year it brings more of the Austin area teams back from Regions 2 and 3. That makes the upcoming regional championships interesting to go along with several other reasons.
South Texas Runners Look To Advance
How many RGV athletes and teams will advance? The Rio Grande Valley teams, coaches, and athletes will be hoping to turn a disadvantage into an advantage this weekend. They were unable to start training with their schools and coaches and compete as teams until the first weekend in October. While that looked to be a disadvantage, that did not stop the region from approaching the season with hard work and strong goals.
Over the last two weeks, RGV runners have performed well. The times they have produced look like they are clicking at just the right time with less running on their legs.
However, they could still be approaching peak fitness and meshing as teams. We will see this weekend if the 2020 season has been advantageous or disadvantageous for South Texas.
San Antonio Johnson Will Dominate
What is questionable are some of the course distance and times from several meets in the region and across the state. What isn't a question is that San Antonio Johnson is GOOD!
Last year was a good season for the team, but this year they have been in complete control all season long. They have spent the 2020 season getting ready for this moment. Repeating as Region Champions is the current goal and then onto trying to win a state title.
Senior Taj Lee leads the team with his 15:10 SB, but Johnson has their entire top five runners with sub 16:00 times this season and a team split of only 46 seconds. Sophomore Tate Underwood has become the team's No. 2 runner with three sub 15:39 runs including two 15:27 SBs.
2A Girls Team Race
Some of the best 2A teams in the state are in Region 4 last year. This year, the region race will be close and with only three teams advancing instead of the typical four, the girls will be racing with urgency.
Mason has a 13:06 team average heading into Tuesday's race and Shiner isn't far behind. Throw Harper in the mix and you have a musical chair situation with four teams and only three chairs. All teams look fairly even with the difference coming in the four and five spots.
Boys 5A Individual Battle
The Region 4-5A boys race will possibly be the best individual race of the day. Why? Well, because there are some studs packed into that race including two region champions from 2019.
It would be disrespectful not to start with the defending Region 4-5A champion Wiliams Macias. The PSJA Memorial senior showed last year that he was poised and learned from his former teammate Cruz Gomez. Gomez dominated the state as well as nationally in his junior and senior years. Macias took the reigns by winning the region last year; this year started different as the entire South Texas region had to wait until the first weekend in October to compete. Macias opened up with a 15:51 5K and later dropped a 15:52 on Oct. 17. At his district meet, he ran a fast solo 14:47, which computes to an approximate 15:25 5K, which is right where the region guys are running.
Boerne Champion senior Foster Wilfong is enjoying a strong 2020 cross country season. He opened up with a 15:21.30 in week one. Since then, he has gone on to produce five 5K races under 15:39. Like Macias, Wilfong had a speedy district race. He went 14:52, which computes to a low 15:20 time, which is shows his consistency on the season.
Similar to Macias, Cedar Park senior Jack Woods didn't begin competing until October 3rd. In the between time, he has gotten down to a 15:38 and looks to be gaining steam for the regional championships. Woods has more in common with Macias than just that as he is also a 2019 regional champion. He won the Region 3-5A race and the realignment set up this year's race between the two champs.
What will give? Wilfong likes to go out and push the pace early. Macias seems to be a front pack magnet who attracts other big time racers before he takes off and Woods has developed into fast and strong competitor. We will see if Wilfong's fitness takes over and that Macias and Woods need another two weeks to get more fitness or if the time is now for one of them to earn their second regional title.
Bandera And Taylor Grona Will Dominate
The 4-4A Girls race could look a lot like it looked two years ago and the four years prior to that. It looks like the Bandera girls are back to ruling the region. They hosted several of the top Region 4-4A girls on Octoer 10th and they won convincingly. They were second last year at the region and sixth at state; now that the girls are mostly juniors with some freshmen contributing, this could be the year the get back on the podium in Round Rock.
Pleasanton was second at the Bandera meet over Fredericksburg, Lytle, and Gonzales.They finished fifth last season at regionals just outside of the four state meet qualifying positions and they look to rectify that on Tuesday.
The regional leader is Fredericksburg freshman Taylor Grona's 11:26.73 is the top time by far in Region 4-4A. That makes her one of the favorites not only to win a regional title, but also for the state meet.
Austin Vandegrift vs Smithson Valley
The Austin Vandegrift and Smithson Valley girls teams have been teams who have closely matched up in the past. Last year, they were the sixth and seventh place teams at the UIL 6A state meet and they entered the season as two of the top teams this season.
Vandegrift quickly ran nearly to the top of the polls and have been rolling ever since. They have the interesting mix of experienced seniors (and a junior) and inexperienced freshmen. The one commonality is that they are all fast! Vandegrift can put their entire top five scorers in before most team's third runner.
Smithson Valley has experience of their own with three seniors. Their strength is having two strong lead runners who can run with anyone in the state.
Can Vandegirft fend off Smithson Valley's two low stick runners? Can Smithson Valley hold off Vandegrift's pack running in the scoring column? We will see what gives.
Boerne Champion, Georgetown, and Dripping Springs Battle for 4-5A Girls Title
As with the 4-6A Girls race, the storyline in the 4-5A gils race will be the team battle. Boerne Champion (BC) head coach Jonathan Tate believes there are nearly six teams in the state who can win the state championship. That includes his team, Georgetown, and Dripping Springs (DS).
The three teams went head to head at the McNeil Invite. DS won that match up between the three teams finishing just five points ahead of BC with Georgetown 33 points behind. BC and DS again battled at their district meet with the narrow win going to BC over DS 25 - 32.
It's not quite the end goal, but it is the next race on the schedule and with only three teams making it out of the region, this race will still be urgent for three teams with hopes to win a state title and needing to take of business here first! With BC and DS capable of going runner for runner, this will be an exciting race!
Anastacia Gonzales vs Isabel Conde De Frankenburg Match-Up
Anastacia "Chachi" Gonzales is one of Texas' top runners. The Boerne Champion junior is a half-miler at heart, but she can effectively run the 5K. Then there is Cedar Park freshman Isabel Conde De Frankenberg who is just about grown up after a complete season of high school running.
Gonazles has a couple of sub 18:00 races on the season including her 17:48.60 5K PR from the Lovejoy XC Fall Festival. Frenkenberg has also dipped under 18:00 in a couple of races.
Gonzales is known for setting fast and hard paces and making a move very few runners dare to match. Frankenberg is also a front runner; we will see if she will be open to an early hard pace or if she will prefer a steady pace and faster finish. These two will be two to watch.
3A Girls Team Battle Can Cole knock Off Yoakum?
Yoakum girls are the 2019 champs and state runners-up and they look good again this year. They are averaging a faster average for the 2020 season than they ran at both regionals and state last year.
However, they aren't the only team looking better this season. San Antonio Cole has been running well in 2020 and they head into regionals with a slight edge over Yoakum. Audrey Velesky and 2019 state meet runner-up Finley Hunting are leading Cole to a 12:13 season average.
Both teams run pretty tight and it'll be a number counting type of day for both teams as they look to win a Region 4 championship.