How Close Are Flower Mound And Southlake Carroll Girls

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The cross country season is almost here and people always want to know who the best teams will be and who will make it to state and eventually win championships. Two of Texas' best teams are in the UIL 6A classification an the contrast between the two teams might not be as big as you think.

Recently, we published the Top Returning 5K Team Rankings: Texas Girls Cross Country Teams to give an idea of who the top teams this season could be. The top two teams in that data dive were the Southlake Carroll and Flower Mound squads. It makes sense on some fronts as Flower Mound returns their top seven runners from the 2022 UIL state meet when they won the 6A title and Carroll returns four runners from that race.

Last year's versions of both teams were closer than many realize throughout the entire season. Even though Flower Mound won the state meet by nine points and went on to finish sixth place overall as a team at the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN), Carroll was the runner-up at state and finished 11th at NXN and there wasn't much separation between the two.

If you ask a Carroll fan, they'd possibly say the Lady Dragons had the makings of being just as good in 2022 as the state champs, if not better.

Carroll placed second at the ultra competitive and very fast California Woodbridge Cross Country Classic, running to a 107 score. Flower Mound scored 178 pts (Nicole Humphries falling from the top four runners to 46th in last 800m after running into a pole on the course) for fifth place.

At Region 1-6A, Flower Mound won the meet with just 55 points scored with Carroll right there and only one point back. There was excitement heading into the state meet as Carroll ran the regional race without one of their top runners, Alexandra Walsh who sat out the race due to recovering from an injury.

At state, Carroll re-inserted Walsh back into the lineup. She was only able to cross the line as their fifth scorer and the final score was 42<51 in favor of Flower Mound who turned in a strong performance.

The Flower Mound girls distance program is in the midst of an impressive and very special run; they're coming through with seldom seen accomplishments as well as other never-done-before type of things from a distance crew in Texas.

The Jaguars won the 2020 state meet by 21 points and the 2021 win was by a sound 58 points over runner-up Prosper before last year's nine point victory over Carroll.

How close are the two teams this year?

Flower Mound will again be a tough team to beat. With the state meet's overall top three finishers back (Nicole Humphries, Samantha Humphries, and Alexandra Fox), the Jaguars will put out one of best 1-3 runners in the nation. The entirety of the remaining state championship lineup also returns and that further solidifies the odds of another strong season.

Natalie Spangher and Ava Cole were the other two scorers last year at state and Elizabeth Henry and Annalise Murray also helped bring home the 2022 trophy. Not to be lost in numbers is what Coach Cook and the Flower Mound staff have proven to be very good at. That's developing talent, preparing runners, and planning for competitions. For example, Bailey Hooley entered the program and ran at the JV level until being pulled up for NXR South and NXN.

On the track last year, Flower Mound had four girls run 10:58 or faster in the 3200m and Spangher ran 17:30 at the Texas Distance Festival in the 5K possibly making an untouchable big four.

The Humphries sisters and Fox are established and certified. The trio has a couple of individual state meet medals a piece between the cross country and track seasons. Not many teams can boast three girls under 4:48 in the 1600m and three under 10:18 in the same season like this group of girls. With Spangher raising her bar, that leaves the rest of the state to deal with the top three finishers in the state and a possible fourth 17 minute girl.

Photo by Jesus Ruiz/MileSplit at the UIL 2022 cross country state meet

Flower Mound

Samantha Humphries (2024) - 2:10.34 (800m), 4:40.10 (1600m), 10:12.60 (3200m)
Nicole Humphries (2024) - 2:06.82 (800m), 4:44.91 (1600m), 10:11.87 (3200m)
Alexandra Fox (2025) - 4:48.41 (1600m), 10:18.43 (3200m)
Natalie Spangher (2024) - 2:24.46 (800m), 5:10.56 (1600m), 10:58.96 (3200m), and 17:30.35 (5K @TDF)
Ava Cole (2025) - 5:21.70, 11:16.45 (3200m), and 18:30.86 (5K @ TDF)
Annalise Murray (2026) - 5:43.40 (1600m)
Claire Bettencourt (2025) - 2:20.96 (800m), 5:12.10 (1600m)
Catherine Henderson (2024) - 11:54.84 (3200m)
Ava Clayton (2024) - 11:57.84 (3200m)
Bailey Hooley (2024) - ran at NXR South and NXN 

Southlake Carroll graduated one of the best distance runners in the state with the matriculation of Ava Bushaw. Bushaw ran 16:43 last year and was fifth at the UIL 6A state cross country meet. During the track season, she ran 2:11.89, 4:51.23, and 10:17.38 finishing fifth in the 1600m and fourth in the 3200m at the state track meet.

They also graduated Audrey Dunn who finished 12th at the state cross country meet state and their No.3 runner in Round Rock. On the track, Dunn ran 4:59.22 and 10:49.72. Natalie Ng was Carroll's No. 7 at the state meet finishing in 69th place and she also ran 11:17.39 on the track last year.

The anchor for the Dragons will be Alexandra Walsh who began last year as their ace. The rising senior was the team's fifth scorer last year at state in 24st place after returning from injury, but started the year running 17:05.45 at Southlake Carroll XC Invite and 17:35.60 at Marcus Coach T Invitational.

Walsh also ran 16:03.50 in 3 miles at the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic for a fourth place finish; soon after is when she ran 19:08.70 at the UIL 6A - District 4 course where most other competitors PRed. She came back during the track season to run SBs of 5:02.56, 10:36.61, and 17:05.92 and will now look to return to top form.

To go along with Walsh, Southlake will be counting on the return and development of important scorers from last season in senior Sylvia Schwedler and junior Elizabeth Smits.

Schwedler finished seventh place overall at the UIL 6A state meet and was Carroll's No. 2 scorer. Smits was both huge and consistent last year as a top five runner on the team. She was the No. 4 at the state meet crossing the line in 22nd place.

The power play for Carroll will have to come from their typical running style - - fast and tight. The questions are can they develop into the usual Southlake team that runs a fast team average and with a sub 60 second split and will that that be enough to beat Flower Mound? 

The track season showed promise and a glimpse of what this year's group could shape up to be at Carroll. Outside of Walsh, top-10 state meet finisher Schwedler, and Smits who crushed a 17:50 at the Texas Distance Festival, there was a lot of optimism on the squad.

They had three other girls run under 18 minutes at TDF who weren't in their top seven last season; Charlotte Martin ran 17:57, Luna Gutierrez ran 17:58, and Sarayu Veluri ran 17:58. With Smits' TDF run, that gives Carroll four girls who ran in the 17s and within eight seconds of one another.

Add Gabriella Tesoriero (18:16) and Julia Gassett (18:23) and Carroll has a solid group of eight girls. Vanessa Vezga who was a freshman last year had a great track season and could be Carroll's next Ava Bushaw.

Photo by Anthony Torns/MileSplit at the 2022 cross country state meet

Southlake Carroll

Alexandra Walsh (2024) - 5:02.56 (1600m), 10:36.61 (3200m), 17:05.92 (5K @ TDF)
Sylvia Schwedler (2024) - 5:10.15 (1600m), 11:05.(3200m) 18:09.85 (5K @ TDF)
Elizabeth Smits (2025) - 5:11.05 (1600m), 11:07.74 (3200m), 17:50.70 (5K @TDF)
Charlotte Martin (2024) - 11:19.78, 17:57.25 (5K @ TDF)
Luna Gutierrez (2026) - 5:17.82 (1600m), 11:20.01 (3200m), and 17:58.01 (5K @ TDF)
Sarayu Veluri (2025) - 5:19.63 (1600m), 11:24.37 (3200m), and 17:58.95 (5K @ TDF)
Gabriella Tesoriero (2025) - 5:23.71 (1600m), 11:34.89, (3200m), 18:16.33 (5K @TDF)
Julia Gassett (2024) - 5:29.23 (1600m), 11:37.34 (3200m), 18:23.02 (5K @TDF)
Vanessa Vezga (2026) - 2:14.19 (800m), 5:11.38 (1600m), and 11:39.91 (3200m)

Last year, Flower Mound proved they had the best three girls in 6A and they're all back. On paper, they look to have the best top four runners by far of any team in Texas. So, needless to say Flower Mound will be good . . . possibly better than last year and any of their three previous 6A state titles. 

Even though Southlake Carroll lost three runners, they also might be better than last year. Only 10 points separated them from Flower Mound at the regional and state meets combined.

The 2023 cross country season could potentially be an even slimmer margin between the two Texas powerhouse teams.