Madison Peters, Macy Wingard, and Samantha Humphries race at the 2023 UIL 6A state cross country championships
NXR South will be the first race in over a month that the Texas girls will be competing across league and conference lines in over a month.
Things will go back to the invitational type races where everyone is obsolete except how you finish. Everything else is inconsequential.
That includes state lines. We'll begin this with girls outside of Texas borders who will have major impacts in this race.
Tennessee commit and back-to-back Arkansas state champion Haley Loewe will be a major player in this race. She lost her first two races of the year finishing runner-up; both of those races were in Texas at the MileSplit TX Inv. and Lovejoy. The Lovejoy loss was to Macy Wingard. The Bentonville senior ran a 17:03 PR to win at Chile Pepper Festival getting paybacks over Wingard to go unbeaten the rest of the year.
Arkansas commit Morgan Kirkland from Edmond North only managed a third place finish at the Oklahoma 6A state meet with a 17:38 run. She has a 17:30 PR this season and that capability will have her in contention.
If Kirkland has to be considered, then so foes Natalie Duggan. The Santa Fe (OK) junior beat out her Edmond cross town rial by three seconds with her 17:35 finish. She only has one race over eighteen-minutes including big runs at the OSU Cowboy Jamboree and the Chile Pepper in Arkansas only losing to Haley Lowew and Macy Wingard.
It was Tulsa area Owasso junior Bella Nelson who out ran the Oklahoma City are runners Kirkland and Duggan for the OSSAA 6A title. She had great runs at tough courses at Rim Rock and Chile Pepper before things started to turn as Nelson ran PRs of 17:46 followed by her state meet 17:31. Her new 5K PR can keep her in the race, but she has 4:51 and 2:09 capabilities that should make her dangerous over the final 1K of race.
Mt. Carmel (New Orleans) senior Catalina Reichard has a couple of Louisiana state championships over indoor, outdoor, and cross. She is fresh off her 17:38 three mile Division 1 win on Monday and will be back at it this weekend.
Elizabeth Leachman is an extra terrestrial. The Texas 5A state champion ran a 16:25 PR and state meet course record. She has no team interests in this race and winning is about a forgone conclusion. She is one of only four girls who has run under seventeen-minutes for 5K this year.
Macy Wingard recently won the 6A state meet and has only lost to two girls this season. Those two girls are in the field (Haley Loewe and Samantha Humphries). The Denton Braswell sophomore's state meet win was in 16:57, which makes he the second faster girl in the field this year. Last year, Wingard qualified for NXN by finishing seventh at NXR South in 2022.
Samantha Humphries was only able to place fourth at the state meet, but the girls who beat her ran faster than 17:04. Humphries is no stranger to national level meets nor qualifying to them. She was fifth at this meet last year and that should be the floor of her placement this year.
San Juanita Leal looks to have found her stride after gaining health in the last half of the season. She ran a 16:57 PR for runner-up at the Texas 6A meet. When Leal has confidence she is nearly unstoppable; we saw that in Round Rock as she controlled the race until the end. Two weeks later ... I say look out! She was last year's NXR South runner-up.
Madison Peters is another girl who has been on fire this season. Peters has three races under 17:30 this year including her 17:03 for third place at the Texas 6A state meet. The Texas A&M signee is one race away from national prominence and with 17:06 and 17:26 runs on this course is a proof she can handle this course.
Alexandra Fox is another Flower Mound Jaguar who is looking to eat at NXR South. Fox was fifth at this year's 6A state meet and only a few girls have beaten Fox this year and most of them are listed above. Fox runs well on this course and was eighth in this race last year.
Sara Morefield is the seventh fastest girl in Texas this year at 17:30. She was third at the Texas 5A state meet behind Leachman and has raced all of the girls above and fared well. The Tulsa signee will be racing for team implications as she will be trying to lead Lovejoy back to Portland for the second straight year.
Isabel Conde de Frankenberg was second at the 5A state meet ahead of Morefield and behind Leachman. It was her best performance of the year and the 17:34 is a good indication of this tomorrow's race being even better. Two more weeks of fitness could go a long way to closing the gap on some of the girls. Frankenberg knows how to run this course; she was last year's NXR South champ.
Klein senior Kathryn Koonts is another Tulsa signee and another who will be in the hunt for a NXN berth. She has run under 17:55 all year long including a 17:42 PR at state for an eighth place finish.
Not that she ran bad by any means, but MJ Novelli did not have the state meet race many expected to see from her. What we have seen before is runners and teams take advantage of NXR South to show what we missed from them at the state meet. I expect this to be the case for Novelli and look for her to get back under eighteen-minutes.
Hannah Stuart is a wild card in this race. The Canyon native has run well on the track the past two years, but doesn't run for the school in cross. That has her with only a few runs under her belt, which creates the unknown of her fitness level and gives her fresh legs. She committed to run at Missouri.