W2W4 At The Texas Distance Festival

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Watch the Texas Distance Festival LIVE on MileSplit TX

The Texas Distance Festival (TDF) is this weekend in Southlake, Texas. Events begin Friday at 3:35 p.m. with the girls 3200m and end with the Emerging Elite boys section one 5K with an approximate start time of 8:00 p.m.. On Saturday, the boys and girls 3200m events again get us started at 3:10 p.m. and the final event being more Emerging Elite 5K races, set to begin approximately at 9:25 p.m.

Related: TDF Schedule of Events

The TDF is always a collection of top rated distance runners and this year will feature Texas' best, who should be considered some of the top talent nationally. Here are the events you will not want to miss:

Elite Girls 800m

Last year, this event was one of the most elite years in Texas history. In fact, last year's TDF girls 800m was a heck of a race. Flower Mound freshman Emma Hoang edged out eventual state meet qualifier Amalie Mills of Smithson Valley for the win in 2:12.35 to 2:12.70. There were a total of seven girls who ran 2:20 and under.

That brings us to this year's event, which could be just as good, as there are four specific athletes to keep an eye on.

Caila Lyons of (San Antonio Brennan) is the top seed and like last year's winner, she is just a freshman. Our records show that she only has an outdoor best of 2:25.47, but during the indoor season she had a personal best of 2:16.35. Keller junior Sasha Crawford is another standout and she is already off to a great start this outdoor season. Crawford has already run 2:17.37 this year and has a 2:13.22 PR from last summer.

Kate Ginther is also having a good outdoor season; the Dripping Springs senior ran 2:18.60 at the Round Rock Invitational. Ginther ran a 2:14 last year at the Region 4-5A championships to qualify for the state track meet. She is also coming off the UIL 5A state cross country meet where she had a great run of 18:15 to finish eighth.  Lastly, Madison Karrigan is not to be slept on, the Allen senior has been under 2:20 several times and her 2:17.75 PR which will have her in the mix for the win.

Elite Boys 800m

Drew Costelow from Valor Christian (CO) will be quite the surprise if no one is paying attention to the new guy. His credentials are telling of his abilities, he has a 15:19 5,000m PR from the Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships last fall. Since then, all he's done is go 1:55 and and 4:24 in the indoor season. His 1:53.19 PR last spring helped him finish fifth at the Colorado state meet. He could be looking to get a new PR this weekend.

Jabari Mitchell is another 1:53 guy in the race who will provide some fireworks. The Mansfield Legacy senior was fourth last year at the UIL 5A state meet and had a good fall during the cross country season. Santos Flores (Converse Judson) is the third state meet qualifier from last year. His 1:54.36 PR at regionals helped him get to the UIL 6A state meet where he finished eighth. This year, he has been on fire; Flores has already run 1:54.91 and 4:21.76 in the 1,600m.

That is just the beginning. Seven other runners are also sub 1:56 runners and are capable of coming away with the TDF win. Winning and not winning are not the point of the meet; running PRs are and this could be a heat full of them on Saturday night.

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Elite Girls 1,600m

There are a ton of state champions from various events in the entries for the girls 1,600m. Isabel Conde De Frankenberg, Hannah Spears, Krianne McBride, Adele Clarke, Breanna Stuart, Abigail Bass, Kailey Littlefield, and Kat Kwiatkowski will make sure this is a race to remember. Nicole Humphries is scheduled to race and the Flower Mound miler is another one to watch out for. The 4x1 mile national record holder has already run sub 5:00 and she is just as fast and strong as anyone in the field. Frankenburg should still be considered the favorite to win the race and could set the pace for the race as she has a 4:53.32 SB from her race at Texas A&M two weeks ago. 

Olivia Pielemeier (AR)is another state champion who will be the out of stater to look out for. The Arkansan has won the 800m, 1,600m, and the cross country state titles all in the last calendar year. She'll be bringing expectations along with her 5:04 SB in the 1,600m to Southlake.

Outside of all of the state champions in the race, several runners to watch out for to set PRs are Cassandra O'Pry, Jenna Kirby, Lily Horvath, Priya Gangadharan, Isabella Edwards, and Lauren Walls-Portillo. O'Pry had an excellent start to the cross country season, Kirby PRed at this meet last year, Horvath PRed last week with a 4:59, Gangadharan and Edwards are both having fast seasons, and Walls-Portillo had an excellent meet last weekend.

Elite Boys 1,600m

Our list gets started with out-of-towner Tyler Downs; the Coloradoan ran 14:59 for the 5,000m in the cross country season at the RunningLane Championships. He started 2022 with a 4:22 indoors, which is the fastest he has ever run. Coming down from altitude, Downs probably expects his PR to just that. . . . go down.

Other non-Texas runners to watch out for are Leland Crawford and AJ Antonelli. Crawford, the Louisiana runner is just a freshman, but don't hold that against him because the dude can run. He has yet to run a 1,600m race this year, but he ran 15:28 during the cross country season in the 5,000m and ran two 9:36 races in the 3,200m this outdoor season. Antonelli from Deer Creek (Ok) also had a great cross country season by going 14:58 at RunningLane. He always seems to run well when he comes to Texas and his 4:18 time at the indoor mile this year shows what kind of running he plans on doing this weekend.

The Texas boys will have their work cut out for them this weekend in the 1,600m, but expect them to be ready to run fast with the out of towners. David Mora (Lubbock Monterey) should be one to watch out for in this event. He doesn't have anything flashy on his resume from this outdoor season, but he has been in West Texas, so the conditions haven't been as nice or calm as what he'll probably get this weekend to race in. He does have a 4:25 1,600m outdoors this year. During the indoor season, he did go 1:57, 4:16, and 8:53 in the 3K.

What will be interesting to watch is if the surplus of 4:23 to 4:26 runners in Section 21 will be looking to find PR pacing or if they'll play it safe and run strategic. If the race lives up to TDF standards, we'll see them go for the gusto and leg it out. Low-key, this has the potential of being the best race of the weekend.

Elite Girls 3,200m

Anastacia Gonzales is scheduled to race at this distance. That's a little surprising when you consider her excellence in the shorter distances on the track. However, from her history in the cross season, we know what she can do at any distance. Expecting her not to run out to the front would be a mistake, that's her modus operandi (M.O.). 

What should also be expected is for freshman Alexandra Fox to roll with her. She has been running well this track season, beginning with her 10:50 at the Coppell Relays and then her 5:01 in the indoor one-mile last weekend along with a 5:03 split on the Flower Mound national record breaking 4 x one-mile.

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Elite Boys 3,200m

At the Louisiana Last Chance Indoor meet, some of the New Orleans Jesuit boys said they wanted Houston Strake Jesuit. They're coming to Texas to compete, unfortunately, we won't have the Strake boys for them. They'll have to settle for some other Texans and I hope they're ready.

Jack DesRoches, Michael Vocke, and company will come from the "Big Easy" to the "Great State" and they should leave with an some PRs as the competition should easily go sub 9:00 for the 3,200m. Some other out of state and fully capable runners like Maxwell Hardin and Luke Kiziah will help keep the pace honest.

I doubt that will be an issue with studs like Emmanuel Sgouros and Brandon Passmann entered. Emmanuel, the Texas signee doesn't have any marks on his 2022 resume yet, but expect his opening race to be significant. The Eastbay Cross Country All-American ran 4:12 in the 1,600m at this meet last year and also ran 9:01 last season in the 3,200m.

Passman is a UIL Texas state champion in cross country in the 3,200m. The Alabama signee ran 9:10 at this distance a month ago at the Sundown Track Series #2. Passman is a shark on the track and when he is running with confidence, watch out.

I expect the train of Sgouros and Passman to run with a purpose this weekend. Anybody willing to get on board will be along for a heck of a ride and probably a shiny new PR to go along with it. I predict the winning time will bu sub 8:55.

Elite Girls 5,000m

Unfortunately, we will not see Natalie Cook running for the TDF record or the US 5,000m record. Not to worry, there is plenty to be excited about with the Elite Girls 5,000m.

Cook's Flower Mound teammate Samantha Humphries may still compete. In one outdoor meet, Humphries was able to run a TX No. 3 in the 1,600m with her 4:54 at the Coppell Relays. She also helped FM to the national record in the 4 x one-mile relay. Don't think that Humphries can't run over distance; she was 12th at the UIL 6A state cross country meet and ran a 17:39 5K at the RunningLane Nationals.

If you're still not confident in her ability to run distance, well she did run 10:19.85 last weekend at the indoor s two-mile distance at New Balance Nationals Indoor. That converts to a 10:16.25 3,200m indoors, which would rank Humphries TX No. 10 All-Time in the outdoor 3,200m.

As far as competitors already running well this outdoor season, 3,200m ranked runners Allie Love (TX No. 2), Amy Morefield (TX No. 8), and Gabrielle Hoots (TX No. 10) are all in the field.

We can't overlook a two-time UIL state champion who is in this race. Aubrey O'Connell won the 2020 UIL 6A state cross country championship and last year's 800m state championship. O'Connell was also the runner-up at this year's cross country state meet and she already ran 4:56 this year in the 1,600m.

Abigail Cheeseman (Abby Faith) (TN) isn't a foreign name to Texas. Her brother Carter Cheeseman won multiple TAPPS state championships for Fort Worth Christian and qualified for the Team National Championships in Oregon. He also won the 2018 TDF Elite Boys 5,000m in 14:36. This year, Abigail won the Tennessee TSSAA state cross country meet and qualified for the Eastbay National Championships. She ran 4:59 in the one-mile, so she has the speed and endurance to run at a high level and could bring a second TDF Elite 5,000m title to the family.

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Elite Boys 5,000m

Some Colorado distance studs are coming down for the Elite Boys 5,000m. Ty Garrett  and Dane Eike from Valor Christian are two high level runners from the mile high city area and they are coming to compete. Garrett was second at the 2021 Colorado 5A state cross country meet and he went 14:58 at RunningLane in 5,000m. Jayden Nats from Mountain Vista is another Coloradoan entered. The Air Force commit is as legit as the Valor Christian boys; he was fifth at the 2021 Colorado 5A state meet and ran a 14:55 for 5,000m at RunningLane.

Also lining up are a hot list of Texas runners that are all gunning to etch their names in the list of top Texas boys to run fast TDF 5Ks. Defending UIL 6A state cross country champ Kevin Sanchez should be one of the favorites. Back in January, the Vandegrift star ran 9:01 in the 3,200m on the same track that he'll be competing on this weekend. 

The UIL 5A back-to-back state cross country champion Walker St. John already has PRs this season in the 800m (1:53) and the 1,600m (4:09). He'll have teammates from his title winning Grapevine squad Trey Leather, Alberto Rayon, and Josue Granados who will also help push the race pace.

Wyatt Athey and Drew McLaughlin from Denton are both certified runners. They've continued their cross country success onto the track. They've both ran under 4:25 in the 1,600m and in the 3,200m, Athey ran 9:08 last week at the Vandegrift Distance Festival and McLaughlin has a 9:18 from earlier in the season.

Hudson Heikkinen, Nathanael Berhane, and Tate Barr hooked up last week for a fast 3,200m and they'll continue that duel in the 5,000m race. Then there is Eastbay Nationals finalist Sahil Dodda, the Eastwood duo of Andres Gurrola and Isaac Mendoza, Jonathan Rivera Pasadena, and Isaac McGill who will all be capable of taking the win in this event.

If a 4:10 miler can be a sleeper in any race, I choose Chris Riley from Austin McCallum as a potential upset to win it all. Riley has run three PRs in the last two weeks. He ran 1:55.20 in the 800m and 9:19.10 in the 3,200m at the St Andrews Invitational two weeks ago and then his 4:10 in the 1,600m last weekend at the Viper Relays.

No doubt, he'll add another PR this weekend, but the redhead could continue his red hot running straight to the TDF title.