The UIL Regional Championships are this weekend and we will soon find out who will qualify to the state meet. At various parts of the state, every class from 1A through 6A are making their last push to get to the state meet.
Some individuals will qualify for the first time and there are who will be expecting to make it back to Austin and try to improve on their previous finishes and some trying to repeat as state champions.
Here are our top UIL Region matchups to keep an eye on this weekend.
- - -
Will Natalie Cook break a record?
Uncontrollable variables as well as controllables all factor into things with looking to break a Texas or UIL record. But, if Natalie Cook feels like breaking a state record this weekend she can do it. Weather conditions will play a part in things, but it feels like things are at the whim of Cook and whenever she feels the time is right to take them down that is when she'll do it.
UIL records can only be broken or set at the UIL state meet, so that might be when the Flower Mound Jaguar decides to ultimately attack them.
Nevertheless, she ran 9:52 last week in the 3,200m which was fastest time ever by a Texas girl and ran 4:45 in the 1,600, which is seven seconds behind Chelsey Sveinsson's (Greenhill) 3:38.61 state record. Seven seconds is far away, but for Cook, eh.....not really. Don't be surprised to see an assault on the record books this weekend.
- - -
Who Qualifies For State Out Of Region 3 Girls 100 Meter Hurdles?
Region 3-5A and Region 3-6A are loaded in the hurdles. So the question is, who makes it out?
Johnson has looked exceptional this season and has the fastest time in the region by far with her 13.71 SB from TSU Relays. However, there is no shortage of girls lining up to try and take her down. Magi' Harris (Humble) has improved by leaps and bounds and will look to make things challenging. She has a 14.33 SB and easily could be a state qualifier.
Also figuring to make things difficult to make it to the state meet are more ladies from Marshall. Desirae Roberts was fourth at state last year in the 300 meter hurdles, but she has improved in the short hurdles this year. Freshman Dior Williams has been learning from her upperclassmen teammates and could be looking to join them in Austin.
Region 3-6A is going to be so tough that a girl who with potential to medal at state will be left at home.
Simone Ballard (Katy Mayde Creek) has been on a tear this year, but has cooled her jets a little bit this postseason. With the state meet now on the line, expect to see Ballard turn things back up in Humble this weekend.
Third place state meet finisher Jaiya Covington (Aldine Eisenhower) knows how to when and run her best when it matter knows it is now when it matters. She recently dropped a 13.55 showing she is in prime condition.
- - -
Another Sub 10.10 Boys 100m?
Pierre Goree (Duncanville), Logan Popelka (Wylie), and Tsegaya Fazarro (Allen) have all produced 100m performances of 10.10 and under in recent weeks. Goree ran 10.10 at his district meet and then went even faster when he ran 10.09 at his area meet. Popelka dropped a 10.10 at his district meet, and Fazarro went 10.10 at district and then 10.11 at his area meet.
Will the attack on the event continue from these Texas boys or perhaps will anyone else join the party? Goree and Popelka could possibly lock horns for the first time this year at the Region 2-6A if they both make it to the finals. You won't want to miss out what that will look like!
How Fast Will the Girls 800m Get In Arlington?
Region 1-6A and Region 2-5A are going down at UTA. There, the girls 800m could provide some jaw dropping races on Saturday and Kailey Littlefield will hit the track first in the 2-5A girls race. The defending 5A girls state champion ran 2:07.50 at her area meet last week and she did that winning by over 10 seconds.
The 1-6A girls race will showcase the top four girls who have fast times and hope to qualify for state, but who also have multiple races to try to qualify in. The defending 6A state champ Aubrey O'Connell won the area meet last weekend over Samantha Humphries, Nicole Humphries, and Mia McGlade.
Expect the girls to save some energy for their following races if two of them are in the clear for qualifying. However, if they are not, this could get down right blazing fast. Also potentially affecting the time could be the wildcard. If they top three finishers run fast enough, it's possible they could all make it to Austin. The wildcard in this event has come from this region multiple times, so history shows Region 1-6A girls don't play.
- - -
Will We See A Sub 20.0 In The 200m?
The Penn Relays are going on this weekend and there will be a lot of huge performances happening there. However, if you don't know about what may happen in Waco, here is your warning about how the Region 2-6A could provide some pay-per-view type sprint action. My take is that it will be the best sprinting in the nation this weekend.
Jelani Watkins (Klein Forest) and Khamari Terrell (Killeen Shoemaker) both are absolutely amazing athletes and are big time football players; Watkins is a rising four star wide receiver as just a sophomore and Terrell is already a University of Oregon signee. The two are also known to tear up the track and this weekend, they could connect in the 200m final in Waco.
Watkins has a 20.95 performance from district and Terrell went 21.12 (0.6) at the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays. If they connect, could we possibly see a state record or a sub 20.0? Roy "The Robot" Martin has the state record with his 20.13, which he ran back in 1985 and recently joining the TX top 10 are Matthew Boling who ran 20.36 in 2019 and Connor Washington who ran 20.39 in 2021.
It's not likely they'll run 19s, but these two could join the TX A-T Top 10 this weekend.
- - -
Who Will Win Region 1-5A 3,200m?
We've known the distance runners in this region are on another level. That level has improved week after week as we move closer to the state meet. What happens in Lubbock will shape what happens at the state meet.
So, what will happen?
Well, the top 5A runner in the event so far this year is Grapevine senior Walker St. John with his Texas Relays winning run of 8:57. He also won his district and area over other top runners in the event Wyatt Athey, Isaac Hernandez, and Josue Granados.
Don't expect any of those guys to not challenge St. John, but they have done exactly that in the past only for St. John to utilize his superior kick to take the wins in the end. Could this be the time any of the district rivals take the region win?
Two other capable runners in the field will be the runner-up in cross country Isaac McGill and the third place finisher David Mora. They are both top level runner and like St. John, they have both elite endurance and speed.
McGill has run 9:00 PR and can keep the pace honest and fast. His passion could make this one of the best races of the weekend and up for grabs for several guys.
- - -
How High Will Molly Haywood Jump?
Tomball Memorial junior Molly Haywood is on fire this year in the pole vault. She has the best vault in the state this year with her 14-2 at the District 15-6A meet. She moved her TX No. 3 All-Time mark up from 14-1 that meet, but it was also her second 14 foot jump of the school season.
Haywood is so good, that even her lows are pretty high. Other than a 12-6 and a 12-9, she has seven jumps 13-1 or higher.
Desiree Freier (Justin Northwest) has the state record at 14-7.25 in 2014 and Olivia Lueking (Clear Creek) at 14-3 last year are the only Texas girls to jump higher than Haywood. That could change this weekend.
- - -
Who Will Win Relays, Duncanville or Klein Forest?
Duncanville and Klein Forest are two of the top two sprint relays in the state. They will clash this weekend and they could be in each other's way of winning a state championship. We'll see this weekend if one of them will win regional titles.
Duncanville leads the state in the 4x100 relay with their 40.28. They've run 40s pretty much all year long and there isn't much that can slow them down. They are so formidable that they have six boys who have run under 11.0 this year. However, it's Klein Forest who is getting hotter as the season progresses. In their last two meets, they've run 40.48 at district and 40.60 at area.
It's the same two teams who will be headlining the 4x200 relay; this time, it's Klein Forest who has the superior time. The Golden Eagles are ranked US. No. 1 with their 1:23.78 from their district meet. The Panthers aren't too far behind with their 1:24.16 winning race at the Texas Relays.
We'll see the nation's best relays putting if down in Waco this weekend.
- - -
Can Summer Creek Set Themselves Up For A Repeat At State?
Summer Creek won the UIL 6A boys state championship last year. There is always talk of a repeat for anyone won wins one, but it is legitimate for Summer Creek as they are a better team this year than they were last year.
Looking at their regional qualifying list, it's easier to list which events they won't possibly qualify for.
The Bulldogs have regional qualifiers in every event under the 1,600m, every field event, and every relay. In fact, they could bet multiple state meet qualifiers in both hurdle events and the 400m.
This Summer Creek squad is special; we'll find just out how special they actually could be after this weekend.