Meet Preview: Patriot Cross Country Inv.

The FEAST Patriot CC Invitational is always one of the top invitational meets in San Antonio that indicates the season has officially begun.

Several teams from the Austin area into South Texas as far south as the RGV meet up in the Alamo City for an early big meet competition. Some of the state's top homeschool teams, TAPPS, and UIL teams will form the largest meet in Texas this weekend.

The course distances have been measured at 3213m and 4985m.

Check out the preview for the two elite races as well as the links to the entry lists for this weekend's elite races.

Girls Elite Race Preview

All eyes will be on the clock and Boerne Champion sophomore Elizabeth Leachman. Last week, she ran 16:34 en route to her Westlake Chaparral Invitational win. Any competition would be welcomed I'm sure, but she has shown the ambition to take it upon herself to make the race happen even if no other girls go with her.

Some of the competition will come from plenty of girls who have already have state meet experience. 

The Austin Vandegrift, Georgetown, College Station, Boerne Champion, San Antonio Alamo Heights, and Kingwood squads will bring plenty of girls who have state meet experience.

Kingwood was a podium team last year with their third place finish and even though attrition hit hard from graduation, they still have a lot of talent, including sophomore Clara Dye who placed 34th last year in Round Rock.

Vandegrift was right behind Kingwood last fall in fourth place at the state meet and they return the entire squad. Last week, they were fourth at the loaded Southlake Inv. #1 with Tibbie Mustacchia and Caitlin Garrett leading the way.

Boerne Champion and College Station were both podium teams at the UIL 5A state meet last year. Champion finished runner-up and College Station was third place. Champion returns four runners from the state meet, led by the aforementioned Leachman while College Station returns five and are led by senior Katherine Brunson

Alamo Heights placed 14th at the state meet last year and are led by Avery Brawner while Round Rock was tenth at the 6A state meet last year with Georgetown's seventh at the 5A state meet.

Several individual runners will add to the influx of state meet runners and will also add intrigue to the elite girls race.

Dana Rojas Vasquez is already off to a great start. The McAllen junior won at Sharyland with a 17:56 run and almost two minutes ahead of the nearest competitor.

As a freshman, Harper Counts (Austin Brentwood Academy) had a successful freshman year in 2022/2023. She was runner-up at the TAPPS state cross country meet and won the 1600m and 3200m on the track. This will be one of the most competitive races she'll have this year.

Three additional runners who aren't affiliated with schools will be highly competitive in race. Hannah Stuart competes for Canyon during the track season, but not for cross the past two years. She won the UIL 4A state track titles in the 1600m and the 3200m last fall. Twin sisters Elin Latta and Iris Latta are homeschool eighth graders who already have proven runs on the track and on grass.

Boys Elite Race

As with the elite girls, the boys race will also host teams that found success last fall. Teams like Austin Vandegrift, Round Rock, Sharyland, San Antonio TMI, Georgetown, San Antonio Christian, Sharyland, Alamo Heights, and San Antonio Central Catholic will look to duke it out with each other this weekend.

Vandegrift was the UIL 6A runner-up squad but San Antonio Christian and Central Catholic were both able to capture (TAPPS 5A and 6A) titles.

Aside from the team races, the individual aspect will be up to the fans utmost satisfaction.

Marcelo Parra and Franco Parra are two of the state's top distance runners and will no doubt be front pack runners. Franco opened up with a 15:43 and runner-up finish last week at Westlake.

Lovvorn Jackson from Corpus Christi King won at Floresville last weekend with a 15:45 after a solid junior season where he placed 24th at the UIL 6A state meet last year. The 29th place finisher at the UIL 6A state meet was San Antonio Lee senior Arlo Gonzales also already has a win under his belt this year with a 15:44 at NEISD.

San Antonio Reagan junior Gavin Chapa and Georgetown senior Nolan House also have wins on the season. Chapa won at Vista Ridge with a 15:41 and House won at Westlake over Parra in 15:25.

The Austin Vandegrift duo of Haley Hudson and Dylan Schieffelin had big time runs at Southlake last week with their 14:34 and 14:41 runs on the 3.06 course.

James Butler (Del Valle) and Joseph Wienen are two additional runners to keep an eye on. Butler won the Temple three mile race in 15:24 and was third at Westlake in 15:49 behind House and Parra.

While Wienen is proven to be one of the state's best runners when he is in rhythm and fit. He had a great track season last fall and finished at the UIL 5A state meet with a third place finish in the 3200m and seventh in the 1600m; he also was sixth at the state cross country meet.

Boosting the level of competition will be runners like Farrin Mangelson, Hayden Scott, Diego Canto, Anthony Zapata, Luke Anderson, Kebede KerlinAdrian Rule and Christian Mathurin.