Kevin Sanchez is one of Austin Vandegrift's top all-time runners. He joins a list of accomplished Viper distance runners and harriers, but he also established himself as one of Texas' best.
He won the 2021 and 2022 UIL 6A cross country state championships and added the 2022 3200m state title with a second in 2023 and third in the 1600m in 2023.
Sanchez will be a freshman this fall at the University of Notre Dame and Vandegrift will be looking at a new era.
Before his departure, the team was able to break through and finish runner-up at the 2022 UIL 6A Cross Country State Championships, bringing the program it's first podium finish in school history.
The Vipers return their No. 2, No.3 and No. 4 scorers from the trophy winning team. Rising senior Dylan Schieffelin (15:21), junior Hudson Haley (15:26), and sophomore Kai McCullough (15:38) were all sub-15:40 runners last fall.
There are other runners who could step up and enhance the team. On the track last year, Vandegrift had six boys run sub-10:00 in the 3200m last year. That includes their top three, but also Brayden Schick (9:53) and Jack Ebeier (9:56) who could help propel this year's squad.
Freshmen Noah Blaut and Miles Nutt are two of Vandegrift's top seven returners. Blaut ran 16:42 and Nutt has a 17:22 SB in the 5,000m. On the track, Blaut ran impressively, going 10:09 and 4:43 with Nutt running 10:23 and 4:40. Those times could bode well for their sophomore season jumps.
This could be a big follow-up year for Austin Vandegrift and without the state champion, this team could potentially be better than last year's trophy winning squad. They'll be one of the top teams in Texas again and we'll see how good the Vipers will be.