Madison Peters competes at the 2022 Nike South Invitational
WATCH LIVE: THE TEXAS A&M INVITATIONAL
BEGINS AIRING AT 9:00 AM ON SEPTEMBER 15
On Friday morning, the Texas A&M Invitational will be streamed live on MileSplit. There are teams heading down from the DFW, up from the RGV, and many from Central Texas and the Houston area.
Not only are there big UIL 5A and 6A schools, but there are also Homeschools, TAPPS, as well as several 4A schools and down.
There are several teams and individuals that will give us a lot to look at that will not only impact this meet, but possibly the rest of the season.
Read below to see nine things we've identified as situations that you should keep an eye on when Friday morning rolls around.
Can Waco Midway Boys Stay Undefeated?
The Waco Midway boys have been a very good program over the last couple of years and they feel like this is the year the strike gold. The Mustangs are undefeated so far this season and are fresh off a dominating win at their home meet last weekend.
They admit that they have to rise to the occasion at the big meets and this is their first challenge of the season. They will face two of the top UIL 6A teams in No. 8 ranked Wylie and formerly ranked Bridgeland. Montgomery Lake Creek is also ranked in the CCCAT UIL 5A boys poll. They are the No. 9 team in the state, and will help Waco Midway see how sharp they are at this point of the season.
Boys Team Showdown (Wylie, Bridgeland, Lake Creek)
We just asked if Waco Midway can step up, but it's not just them who will have to rise to the occasion in College Station, this weekend.
Wylie is the No. 8 ranked team in the latest CCCAT poll. They're led by senior Nathan Moore and Caden Biltz leading the way. The team has only run one full meet this year, which was at the Southlake Inv. No.1. They finished fourth overall, only behind the No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 UIL 6A ranked teams.
Bridgeland is led by junior Benjamin Montgomery who had a breakout track season last spring. He ran 9:00 in the 3200m at the UIL 6A state track meet and brings his 15:22 5K PR into the meet. Along with Montgomery, Bridgeland has six other boys who ran under ten minutes in 3200m.
Moore and Biltz are the top two for Wylie and Montgomery is clearly the top runner for Bridgeland, but the race will be decided by the three through five runners. Wylie ran a 15:23 average three weeks ago in just over three miles. That was impressive for an overall average, but they also ran with a 56 second deviation. The depth Bridgeland brings will be challenged, but consider them up for the challenge
Also coming into the meet is the UIL No. 5 ranked squad of Montgomery Lake Creek.
Fredericksburg Girls And Davenport Girls Showdown
Not only are there top teams entered from the larger programs, but there are two top ranked UIL 4A girls teams who should go head-to-head.
Fredericksburg is loaded again this year and their CCCAT UIL 4A No. 1 ranking is proof. Taylor Grona was the state meet individual runner-up last year and her squad was runner-up as a team and they all have their eyes on the top spot.
Fredericksburg has been running a couple of 5Ks this year, but they dropped down to two miles last week and they ran a 12:08 team average with only a 60 second split at the Steve Golemon Memorial Invitational. Grona (11:38), Ann Claire Cop (11:50), and Rilyn Grona (12:02) went 1, 2, 3 to win the meet with only a 19 point total
Pflugerville ISD Inv. was a show of force from the Davenport girls. They placed 1, 2, 3, 4 in the varsity girls two mile race. Madeline Reagan and Kendall Fallon both ran under thirteen-minutes to lead the way. Davenport won the meet with only 18 points scored.
Davenport is ranked No. 8 in the CCCAT latest poll and this battle should tell the state a little bit about whee both squads truly stand.
Will We See Antonion Star Micaela Villarreal?
Micaela Villarreal is one of the state's stars. She captured TAPPS 6A state titles in cross country last fall as well as the 800m and 3200m track titles.
It's the second week of September and we have yet to see her on a cross country course this year. She ran a 11:20 in the 3200m on 8/26, but that was on the track. Will we see her run this weekend and how will she accept the challenge of Taylor Grona?
How Will Edwin Rotich Respond To The High Level Of Competition
Leander Rouse senior Edwin Rotich has been poised for an outstanding final season of high school competition. Over the summer, he went to East Africa, where his family is from to get some high elevation training and to learn the East African way of training.
He ran at the Vista Ridge Cross Country Invitational early last month and ran a 15:55 personal best for 5,000m. He was 46th last year at the state cross country meet, but hasn't had a high level meet this year.
This weekend, he'll have enough competition to run with and possibly pull him to another personal best. We will be looking to see how he will react to just his second competition of the year and to his most competitive race in a while.
Girls Showdown With Staucie Lees, Madison Peters, and Madison Larsen
Peters won this event last year and is off to a good start to the 2023 season. She ran 16:45 to win the Southlake #1 Invite and Larsen placed eighth in 17:33.
Peters' win last year here was in 17:52, but should be faster this year with a little more competition. She ran 4:56 and 10:38 last year on the track, which should help produce a faster race. Her fellow UIL 6A state track companion Staucie Lees. Lees was just two places behind Peters at last year's UIL 6A state cross country meet (Peters 9th, Lees 11th). She also had a great track season going 4:59 and 10:36. Lees won the the Klein ISD Invitational last weekend in 17:02 in just under 5K.
Larsen is the lesser known runner for most. She ran in TAPPS last year and won the 5A state cross country title, but the sophomore is in the UIL this season. The Aledo top runner will mix it up with Peters and Lees.
photo credit: The Woodlands Area Student Center
Juan Aguinaga Jr. And Camden Gibson Keep Family Traditions Running
Aguinaga is coached by his father Juan Aguinaga Sr. who has led Edcouch-Elsa for several years. In just his second year in high school, Aguinaga is already the top runner in the program. He started his season with a 16:18 followed by a 15:59. On Sept. 2, he then ran 15:19 to win the Falfurrias Invitational followed by a 16:56 at the Border Bash XC Invitational last weekend.
This weekend, the Edcouch-Elsa leader will have a solid field and perhaps the best field he's faced so far this year to possibly lead him to a new personal best. It will give him his first look at competition outside of the Rio Grande Valley.
Gibson is in the same position as Aguinaga. He is also in the second year of running in high school and leads his squad. Additionally, he also runs under his father Michael Gibson, who has led The Woodland College Park boys programs for many years.
He began his season with a 12:13 run for 4,000m at the College Park Invite earlier this season. That was for the meet win and over several fifteen mid guys. This will be just his first 5,000m race of the year.
We'll get to see the two sophomores take the next steps of their career and compete with some top level boys, but you should expect to see these youngsters in the front pack of this race.
Is Taylor Grona Making A Push For A State Title?
Even as a senior, it's sometimes the most difficult for a girl to win a state title. Even though, experience, strength, and speed are tools that can accentuate a runner's tool box and enhance chances of winning a stat title, many times either incoming younger runners get the wins or other experienced competitors.
Don't tell that to Fredericksburg senior Taylor Grona.
During freshman and a sophomore years, she was one of those fast incoming youngsters as she placed fourth at the UIL 4A state cross country meet in her first year and second in her second high school season. As a junior last year, Grona produced another runner-up finish as Canyon sophomore Avery Brown had a crazy last half-mile finish snatched the win from Grona.
This year, the Fredericksburg senior is already running out of her mind with a 18:57 run at 5,000m and a 11:38 last weekend.
At the Texas A&M this weekend she will get a chance to exhibit how legitimate her state meet aspirations are this season.
Girls Team Showdown (Aledo, A&M Consolidated, And League City Clear Falls)
There are three girls team who will make an interesting girls 5,000m race. That will include the CCCAT UIL 5A No. 2 ranked Aledo girls, No. 8 College Station A&M Consolidated, and the Clear Falls girls.
Aledo's top seven girls are all freshmen and sophomores. Their number one runner Madison Larsen is a legit low stick runner and can be that for any team in the state. Aledo follows her up with freshman Micah Neal who can run in the low 18s. Molly Garrison, Sofia Brandenburg, and Mykel Murry have proven to run with a nearly 60 second split 2-4.
Rowen Skinner is the number one runner for A&M Consolidated. Skinner ran 18:14 at the Patriots Inv. with Madison Black, Alexandra Staack, and Rachel Moran all ran within 20 seconds of one another making a strong team through four runners.
Clear Falls might not be ranked, but that means they might just be running even harder to hopefully earn it. Last week at Strake Jesuit, they ran a 19:58 team average and was only second behind The Woodlands. Katherine Valentine and Kaitlyn Gale lead the way for the Lady Knights.
These three teams should be the top finishers in the girls 5,000m race.