Early Look At UIL 6A Boys State - No Idea Who's Going To Win

Boys compete in the 2020 UIL 6A boys state cross country meet

The UIL 6A boys cross country championships is always one of the most anticipated races in Round Rock when November rolls around.

It's because some of the best and most consistent programs get to go head to head; this year will be no different.

Both the boys team and individual races should be tight and close battles.

The favorite heading into the race should be Kevin Sanchez (Austin Vandegrift). He has the state's top 5,000m time of 14:44.80 from the San Antonio FEAST Inv. way back at the beginning of the season. He has been consistent all season long including in big meets. His only losses came at the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic (5th) and Hoka One One/McNeil Elite Invitational  (2nd).

Hudson Heikkinen (Plano West) is having an awesome senior season with only one meet where he did not get the victory. His 14:59 at the Garmin MileSplit TX XC Invitational and 15:01 at the Jesuit XC Classic are his top two times and show that he is ready to compete with anyone.

Reese Vannerson (Houston Strake Jesuit) has been mostly disconnected from most of the state outside of the Houston area until the Dallas Jesuit XC Classic where he was second to Heikkinen. Also mostly disconnected from most of the top runners and who have proven to be state contenders are El Paso runners Omer Ibrahim (El Paso Pebble Hills) and Israel David (El Paso Eastlake). Ibrahim has shown he can blaze with his 15:02 from earlier this season and then his win at the Nike South Invitational where he outran several other top 6A guys. David was also in the Nike South race where he was fourth.

A runner to look out for is Emanuel Galdino (Houston Stratford). Galdino hasn't been very active, especially of late due to his recruiting situation, which he hopes to have wrapped up soon. However, he was second at Nike South.

Other runners who should be front runners in the individual race could be Luis Pastor (El Paso Coronado), Nathanael Berhane (Wylie), Kyle Easton (The Woodlands) and Andres Gurrola (El Paso Eastwood).

"it can't be about The Woodlands every year. When you show up to a state meet, it should be something where people are like, I have no idea who is going to win." 

Juris Green, The Woodlands head coach

The team race will be out of sight with the top three teams from last year returning as favorites to fight for the team win. Once again the separation between the three will be minimal.

Last year, Southlake Carroll won ahead of El Paso Eastwood, and The Woodlands; Carroll won with 78 points, Eastwood only six points behind with 84, and The Woodlands was only 15 points behind them with 99. That difference is a matter of seconds and the race could be very different.

Not only are these three teams expected to be the top in Texas, but they are or have been ranked nationally in the MileSplit50 boys rankings. Currently, The Woodlands ranks No. 20 and Eastwood is up to the No. 22 ranking. Carroll, was ranked No.25 earlier in the month, but is now in the honorable mention section.

So what will give next month? 

Well, it all depends on who all makes it out the district and regional rounds. Everyone expects these three to be in Round Rock. Carroll and Eastwood will have their precursory Region 1-6A battle that will tell a lot, but still could have little bearing on the state meet race day if they both qualify.

Based on this season's stats, Eastwood has the capability of running a team average of 15:46.08, Carroll a 15:50.43 average, and The Woodlands have a 15:49.62 capability. That's very little wiggle room or difference and their splits are absolutely absurd.

But can Eastwood do something no other team not named Southlake Carroll or The Woodlands have been able to do since 2005 and win the largest boys division?

The Troopers basically have a new team compared to last year's runners-up. So does Carroll; so does The Woodlands. That makes it just about anybody's race. Or doesn't it? Until Eastwood broke things up last year, One of either Carroll or The Woodlands has won state with the other finishing second except for 2005 and 2011.

Is there perhaps another team who can get in the mix? If so, it would have to be between Atascocita, Strake Jesuit, and Wylie. Houston Stratford, Plano West, Prosper, San Antonio Brandeis, and Flower Mound all believe they have a chance as well.

Atascocita is one of the few 6A team in the state who have proven to average under 16:00 and with a sub 50 second split. They finished fourth last season.

Coach Juris Green may have said it best a couple of years ago following a Highlanders state title, "it can't be about The Woodlands every year. When you show up to a state meet, it should be something where people are like, I have no idea who is going to win."

Individual Virtual Meet  I  Team Virtual Meet