Boys Team Predictions: Region I-6A and II-6A Championships

Boys race at the 2023 Nike South Inv.

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Region II-6A Predictions

It's been a long season in the state of Texas this year with many great individual and team performances making up yet another impressive season. However, now we've arrived at the championship seasons where teams will experience triumph and heartbreak and every emotion in between. It's safe to say that having a good day on the right day is something every team is hoping for heading into this weekend, however for some, this will be the case more than others.

This year we've seen a uniquely diverse and competitive crop of teams and individuals as the battle for the podium places at the state meet appears to be wide open with the individual battle even more of a toss-up. That being said, we must first navigate the pressure-filled gauntlet that are the regional meets. So, let's do our best to navigate this gauntlet and make some predictions for the Region I and II championship meets.

Region I Predictions

1. Southlake Carroll

Predicting Southlake Carroll as the number one team coming out of Region I should be no surprise to anyone familiar with Texas cross-country as the Dragons have held a tight grip on the region for many years now. Put simply, this won't change this year as the Dragons have been as close to perfect as one could hope to be heading into the championship season, going undefeated within the state and scoring their lone second-place finish at the 42nd Annual Woodbridge Cross Country Classic.

The Dragons have been led all year by the dynamic duo of experienced senior Jude Alvarez and sensational sophomore Caden Leonard who've both run under the 15:00 mark this year. However, Carroll's impressive team doesn't stop there as the Dragons have averaged 15:11 with a forty-two-second split at their best this season.

Most recently at the UIL 6A-District 4 race, the Dragons placed 1-4 with the aforementioned Leonard and Alvarez running 14:56 and 14:59 respectively. They were then followed in shortly after by junior Blake Bullard who ran 15:12 and senior Zach Troutman who ran 15:13. The Dragons had all seven runners in by the time the clock hit 15:50 and secured yet another dominant win.

When you couple the fact that Carroll have two of the best individuals in the state with the fact that they have the best team average in the state by nearly seventeen seconds it's no question as to why they're the favorite to take home the Region I crown and likely the state title in a few weeks.

2. El Paso Franklin

Predicting Region I is anything but easy as the battle for the next three qualifying spots contains about five teams that are essentially identical. That being said, El Paso Franklin is a team that has all the necessary qualities and performances to occupy the second qualifying spot. As a team that's consistently been in the rankings, Franklin feel like a team that have largely flown under the radar, however, this is a great team that will produce when it's time.

El Paso Franklin have been led by star senior Matthew Engle who has run 15:01 at his best this year, however, the talent on this team doesn't stop there. Engle is closely followed and supported by fellow senior Juan Leal who has consistently been in the 15:30s. But the talent keeps coming as Franklin's top five are rounded out by Adan Castillo, Sebastian Gonzalez, and Carlos Mendez who've all run in the 15:40s at their best this year.

What separates El Paso Franklin from their tight contingent of Region I competitors is their ability to run close together at the front of the pack. They have the tightest split and the best team average when compared to their competitors and while statistics don't always tell the full story heading into the regional meets, these statistics tell us enough.

The key for Franklin will be to run together and know who their competitors are in the pack as the saying "every place matters" rings especially true in a field as competitive as Region I. That being said, if El Paso Franklin can maintain their 15:34 team average and forty-eight-second split, there's no reason we shouldn't see them finish in the number two spot in Region I as well as on the line at the state meet.

3. Northwest Nelson

Coming in third place in these predictions is Northwest Nelson who are another team whose season has been characterized by consistency and a fast team average. Nelson are another team that's perhaps been overlooked due to the fact they share a region with Southlake Carroll however their consistent ability to produce fast times at big meets hasn't gone unnoticed which is why we find them in the number three spot.

Northwest Nelson are led by outstanding junior Matthias Peterson whose had an underrated but extremely impressive season running 15:05 at his best and finding himself consistently at or under the 15:20 mark. Peterson has been closely supported by fellow junior Jason Wade who ran 15:22 at his best as well as consistently running in the 15:30s for much of the year.

Nelson had a solid showing at their district meet when you compare them to their competition for the third spot as they averaged 15:56 with a fifty-eight-second split in a tough race behind #1 ranked Southlake Carroll. This performance marked yet another point of consistency for Nelson as they've put up similar numbers throughout much of the year, making this race a positive sign.

The key heading into Saturday for Northwest Nelson will be closing the gap between their second and third runners as a thirty-six-second gap could potentially be taken advantage of in such a tight field. Nelson still appears to have the edge in terms of their split when compared to their competition however it'll take another solid and consistent race to secure a qualifying spot.

4. McKinney Boyd

Picking between McKinney Boyd and Northwest Nelson for the number three spot was no easy task as the two teams average nearly identical times however, Nelson took the edge due to their tighter split. That being said, McKinney Boyd are a team that's had an incredible year and a team that certainly deserves a spot on the line at the state meet.

As has been regularly covered over the course of the year, McKinney Boyd are led by the talented duo of Joaquin De La Cruz and Caleb Millard who've been incredible all year, consistently running under 15:20 allowing McKinney Boyd to challenge for the win in every race. These two are also supported by a talented cast of depth that features senior Luke Woodward whose dipped into the 15:40s this season.

McKinney Boyd ran away with their district meet this year, scoring just thirty-six points for a dominant victory. At this meet, Boyd turned in their best split of the year with their first and fifth runner separated by just fifty-seven seconds. 

The key for McKinney Boyd heading into Saturday will be to continue doing what they've done all year which is consistently run near the front and find a way to be in the right place at the right time. They've been exposed to good competition all year and that'll serve them extremely well in such a tight race. If Boyd can run as close together as they did at their district meet, they should be able to secure a qualifying spot at the state meet and continue rounding out a very impressive year.

Other teams to watch: El Paso Eastwood, Coppell, Keller, Rock Hill