Meet Recap: 2021 SPC Championships

Girls compete at the 2021 SPC Cross Country Championships at Norbuck Park in Dallas, Texas

2021 SPC XC Championships Summary - written by Jason Yaffe and photos by Stuart Kantor

On a beautiful morning for xc running at Norbuck Park in Dallas, TX, a new team champion and a long standing powerhouse highlighted the 2021 Southwestern Preparatory Conference championships.

The girls toed the starting line first and Hockaday sophomore Margaret Thompson jumped to the front, accompanied by Dallas Episcopal (ESD)  Victoria Schmidt ('22) as they went stride for stride up the long hill on the east side of the park.

By the 1.5 mile marker as the course exited the fire break, Thompson had a 40 meter lead that she would slightly widen for a fourteen second win, finishing in 18:37.

Behind Thompson, her teammates were in a battle with Houston Episcopal (EHS). Each team placed three runners in the top 10. EHS had a little more depth on the day and that was enough to carry them to their first ever SPC girls team title, 45-55 over Hockaday. Houston St. John's packed five girls into the top 25 to finish third. 

The EHS girls traveled far and wide this fall, seeking out competition at the Chile Pepper Invitational, McNeil, and meets closer to home. Their first SPC title came without the help of Kat Kwiatkowski ('22), who had run 17:50 for 5k back in August. The Knights had been close before, finishing second when the SPC championships were last at Norbuck in 2018. This time around coach Julius Michael's Knights put forth a team effort.

Michael credited seniors Ella Newman and Kate Freeman for "stepping it up and changing the team culture." Additionally, he felt that the team's success on the track, especially in the 4x800 meter relay has led to success in xc. 

The Dallas St. Marks School of Texas boys was the team to beat entering the 2021 SPC race. As defending SPC champions , they were aiming to culminate their season with another title. Back at the TxMilesplit Invitational on September 11th, head coach John Turek and assistant coach Ryan Hershner had an early indication about their talented team.

Plus, with University of Pennsylvania bound Sahil Dodda ('22) leading the Lions, the team knew they had one of the best runners in the state.

As expected, Dodda and St. John's School of Houston star Emmanuel Sgouros ('22) bolted to the front once the gun went off. They were together through the mile mark before Sgouros blew the race open.

Racing on a very challenging Norbuck course that included two significant hills, University of Texas signee Sgouros would widen his lead over the second half of the race to finish in an eye popping 15:06.

Similar to their success the last time the SPC held a xc championship (2019 in Tomball, TX), the Lions had five all conference runners. They could not quite match the score of the 2019 squad, but with 51 points, they had a convincing win over Austin St. Andrew's Episcopal School. William Dunaway's fourth place finished helped the Crusaders claim runner-up honors.

Houston Christian broke into the top three for the first time, too. St. Marks will be around for a long time since their number 2, 3, and 4 runners are all sophomores.

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