Lovejoy Fall Festival Girls Elite Race
Last season, the Lovejoy XC Fall Festival was the combination of the best UIL 5A talent in the state. This year, it was a little bit more talent packed if you can believe it.
More of the top teams in the classification (exception Dallas Highland Park and Grapevine) competed against one another to get an early season barometer on where they currently compare against each other.
The host team Lucas Lovejoy didn't fare as well as they would have liked to last year at this meet, but this year was a little more to their liking. The Lady Leopards won the meet with a 19:04 team average and with two top 10 individual finishers (Amy Morefield - 2nd and Sara Morefield - 8th) enabling them to overcome the back-to-back defending champions Boerne Champion.
Boerne Champion finished in the runner-up spot trailing in the point total by 48 points. Champion had a low stick runner in senior Anastacia "Chachi" Gonzales, who finished fourth overall in 18:15. However, their 2:06 split is what enabled the huge disparity between themselves and Lovejoy.
With other top teams with plans of vying for a state meet podium finish later this fall, Colleyville Heritage, Dripping Springs, Canyon Randall, Georgetown, Prosper Rock Hill, and Magnolia West were all able to gage where they and all other teams currently stand.
Colleyville Heritage had a big 1-2 punch with Gabby Love and Allie Love turning in top 10 runs, Dripping Springs used a top 10 run from Karsten Bobb to bolster their team, Canyon Randall got a low stick performance from senior Cameron McConnell, and Georgetown had a top 10 performance from their number one runner McKenzie Bailey.
The performances of the top runners from these top teams are reasons for optimism from the challenging teams. However, with none of them having a split lower than 1:35, look for the teams and the coaches to address the middle and back ends of their team packs by time championship season rolls around.
TEAM SCORES PLACE TEAM POINTS SCORERS TIMES 1 Lucas Lovejoy 55 2+8+11+15+19 (20+31) 1:35 1-5 Split | 19:04 Avg 2 Boerne Champion 103 4+13+27+29+30 (35+56) 2:06 1-5 Split | 19:44 Avg 3 Colleyville Heritage 139 5+6+25+38+65 (74+85) 3:02 1-5 Split | 19:44 Avg 4 Dripping Springs 144 10+18+37+39+40 (48+53) 1:46 1-5 Split | 20:05 Avg 5 Northwest Eaton 149 16+23+33+34+43 (51+52) 1:10 1-5 Split | 20:15 Avg 6 Canyon Randall 157 1+26+41+44+45 (66+76) 2:49 1-5 Split | 20:06 Avg 7 Klein Oak 173 3+14+46+49+61 3:01 1-5 Split | 20:07 Avg 8 Georgetown High 191 7+12+36+59+77 (78+80) 3:22 1-5 Split | 20:16 Avg 9 Prosper Rock Hill 249 21+32+50+67+79 (101+104) 2:06 1-5 Split | 20:53 Avg 10 College Station High 265 22+47+55+70+71 (84+106) 1:38 1-5 Split | 20:57 Avg 11 Magnolia West 286 24+28+42+95+97 (100+109) 2:50 1-5 Split | 21:23 Avg 12 Vista Ridge 308 9+58+72+81+88 (94+98) 3:30 1-5 Split | 21:07 Avg 13 Hallsville 324 17+64+68+73+102 (105+110) 3:53 1-5 Split | 21:32 Avg 14 Denton Guyer 390 57+63+87+90+93 1:45 1-5 Split | 21:55 Avg 15 Denton High 395 60+69+83+91+92 (107) 1:24 1-5 Split | 21:59 Avg 16 Lufkin 400 54+62+89+96+99 (103) 2:07 1-5 Split | 22:05 Avg 17 Crandall 462 75+82+86+108+111 (112+113) 4:12 1-5 Split | 23:14 Avg
Individually, this meet was also an eye opener. Familiarity from last season is common factor, but what could have an effect on the team championship is the individual title.
Many of the top teams have at least one runner and a possible who could win the individual championship; that would help their team championship hopes.
At the Southlake Carroll XC Invite, we learned how fast and fit Gabbie Love is. Her come from behind win and 17:21 run made her an instant threat to the state title this year. Her follow up of 18:18 and fifth place finish on a much more difficult course is further proof that she is figuring this cross country thing out.
Like Love, Anastacia Gonzales of Champion is a speedster on the track and flat surfaces, but she is known to also be able to challenge on the individual side of things in cross. Her fourth place finish at Lovejoy and her third place finish at last year's state meet is more proof that she is dangerous.
Lovejoy junior Amy Morefield is already known for her cross country abilities. Her freshman year, she had a top five individual finish and after last weekend's run, she looks to be back in top shape. She qualified for the Nike Team Nationals back in 2019; going 18:10 to start the season on a hilly course is a good sign.
The unknown came from Canyon Randall senior Cameron McConnell. McConnell is new to the Texas running scene, having transferred in over the summer. The 2020 Colorado state meet runner-up demonstrated her abilities to the rest of the challenging teams and individuals.
McConnell not only took on the challenge of knowing nothing but herself, her abilities, and those of her team. Unaware of her competitors racing styles and strategies, McConnell had to address that unknown and the course and weather conditions. No worries, as the challenges were easy for her to overcome, especially Myers Park. "The course was really hilly, I enjoyed the course because I enjoy hills," she said. As far as not knowing her competition, it just took a couple of thousand meters for her to figure things out.
Coming from a state with mountains and different terrain and elevation levels, the heat and humidity could be a barrier that takes a while to adjust to. Conversely, McConnell is off to a great start; taking the win at Lovejoy in 17:57.30 is quite the introduction to the competition.
Her arrival at Canyon Randall is already adding a new wrinkle to an already convoluted path the UIL 5A state team and individual championships. No big deal for McConnell and her new Randall teammates, "moving here, it's a difference, but I really am loving the girls team."
Keep a look out for both Randall and McConnell, as there could be more to come from her, "I'm not in my most peak shape right now, but I'm really happy with my endurance."