The Hoka One McNeil Invitational was back in full effect this weekend. After making adjustments to last year's meet due to COVID restrictions, it this year's edition was a two day event packed with cross country action from across the state.
Adjustments were made to the course at Old Settlers Park. There is a possibility some of those adjustments will remain for the state meet.
Girls Gold Race
The first race of the day was as good as anyone could have imagined. It went out the way we thought it would and many of the major players were in the mix as we guessed.
As expected, Shewaye Johnson (Prosper) was the pace setter from the jump; her knack of finding the front of the pack has become a weekly thing, but getting to the front of this field took some effort.
Johnson was able to run free and clear in the front and had the company of Isabel Conde De Frankenberg (Cedar Park), Anastacia Gonzales (Boerne Champion), McKenzie Bailey (Georgetown), and Aubrey O'Connell (Prosper).
By the two-mile mark, it became a two girl race, but it was Bailey making up about 10m to catch up two the two leaders and then pull away with Frankenberg. Johnson stayed about 15m behind and teammate O'Connell another 15m or so behind her.
With about 1K remaining, Frankenberg and Bailey were stride for stride all of the way until 10m to go as the UIL 5A defending champion pulled away from the Georgetown junior.
Only the third race of the year for Frankenberg, she is clearly in good fitness. She ran 17:31 to open up three weeks ago, followed by a 15:59.50 3-mile race, and now a 17:07.60 5K PR. Bailey, recently ran a 17:17 for what was the No. 1 5K in the state. She followed that up with a mediocre 19:19 for her last week, but this race definitely proves she is at an elite level now, especially this 17:08.20 effort.
Girls 5,000 Meters Varsity Gold - Sat. =========================================================================== Athlete Yr Team Time =========================================================================== 1 Isabel Conde de Fr... 10 Cedar Park 17:07.6 2 Mckenzie Bailey 11 Georgetown 17:08.2 3 Shewaye Johnson 11 Prosper 17:33.6 4 Aubrey O'Connell 12 Prosper 17:38.4 5 Amy Morefield 11 Lucas Lovejoy 17:40.7 6 Allie Love 10 Colleyville Heritage 17:41.5 7 Joy Gill 12 San Antonio Home Sch.. 17:47.5 8 Gabbie Love 11 Colleyville Heritage 17:51.6 9 Anastacia Gonzales 12 Boerne Champion 17:54.4 10 Isabella Rubio 12 Katy 18:09.2
Boys Gold Race
This year, running 16 minutes in the 5K seems to be an average time. The McNeil invitational had 16 boys run that mark or better in the Gold race alone.
We knew this race was going to be a dandy as well as a tell tale sign of who the top runner in Texas might be. With many runners having run fast times at courses all around the state, this was the chance to get many of them running the same day on the same course
However, it was the guy few UIL competitors have taken adequate notice and who may have taken the attention he deserves. That guy is Emmanuel Sgouros from Houston St. John's. Sgouros entered with a 15:13 SB from the Brenham Hillacious meet two weeks ago.
The race was led by Dallas Jesuit senior Enrique Borrego, but right past the mile, Sgouros took the lead and the pacing duties, saying "it went out a little bit slower than I though it would, after the mile I just moved up to the front and held it until the end." He took over with Sanchez and St. John still close in tow.
Sanchez would continue to press and valiantly chase to take the lead. However, the SPC star would kept his foot on the gas and pull away to earn the meet win in 15:01.
Boys 5,000 Meters Varsity Gold - Sat. =========================================================================== Athlete Yr Team Time =========================================================================== 1 Emmanuel Sgouros 12 St John's 15:01.0 2 Kevin Sanchez 11 Austin Vandegrift 15:13.5 3 Walker St. John 12 Grapevine 15:20.8 4 Trey Leathers 12 Grapevine 15:25.5 5 Nathanael Berhane 12 Wylie 15:26.9 6 Josue Granados 12 Grapevine 15:27.9 7 Wyatt Hoover 12 Poth 15:34.0 8 Ruben Rojas Betanzos 12 Katy Seven Lakes 15:34.7 9 Marcelo Parra 10 TMI - The Episcopal .. 15:35.5 10 Oliver Maldonado 11 Humble Atascocita 15:35.7
The boys team race was anything but surprising, as it was clear who the best team on the course was by watching this race.
Grapevine took the wind out of the sails for any team who had hopes of winning the meet. They not only placed St. John and Leathers in the top five, but count Josue Granados in sixth place, Alberto Rayon in 11th place, and Brian Guevara in 21st place and you see how they only garnered a mere 32 points. They also put four runners in front of every scoring team's second runner.