2017 District 5 - 6A Cross Country Preview
On October 14th, district meets across the state of Texas will be underway to determine who moves on to each regional race. Located at Bob Jones Park, the District 5 - 6A race will prove to be one of the toughest, and will host some of the top team and individual talent in the state.
The boys race will be a shootout, with the top three teams and top 10 individuals making it to the Region 1 meet. From a team perspective, it will be extremely competitive with Flower Mound, Carroll, Hebron and Marcus all currently ranked in the top 12 in the state per Texas Milesplit Virtual Meet. Per the CCCAT coaches poll, Carroll, Flower Mound and Marcus are all ranked in the top 10. Unfortunately, only three teams will qualify, which should mean they will hold nothing back in order to continue on to regionals.
Flower Mound is coming off a third place finish at the Nike South Invitational finishing just behind The Woodlands and The Woodlands College Park last weekend. They are led by a strong 1-2 in Alex Maier and Kirk Jarrett who have season bests of 15:01 and 15:12 and placed first and second at Nike South. Their 3-5 will be the determining factor as there is a gap of 30-60 seconds between Kirk and the rest of their varsity squad. If they can close that gap they will have a good shot at moving on to the regional race.
The Southlake Carroll boys will look to defend their district title from 2016 but are without the defending champion from last year Reed Brown. The Dragons have great depth, boasting a 17 second split between their first and fifth runners. Led by Jackson Felkins, Jack Myers, and Connor Rutledge, their top runners have been interchangeable in races this year. Currently ranked fourth in the state based on season bests, and second per the coaches poll, if they can keep a close gap amongst them and run as a pack they should be able to place high and continue on to regionals.
Hebron only lost one senior from last season, and will look to use their experience from a 4th place district finish in 2016 to propel them into the top three this time around. Led by Senior Adam Dayani who placed 11th at this race last year and currently has a season best of 15:16, the Hawks need to have their 3-5 runners run well and keep the close gap they have had throughout the season in order to move on.
Marcus also has a close 1-5 split of 21 seconds amongst their top runners for the season. Though they did lose three seniors last year, including top finisher Parker Brady who finished 9th in the 2016 district race, they will look to pack run and keep a close gap this year. They are ranked 12th in the state at the moment, 10th in the coaches poll, and while they do not have a highly ranked first runner, having a tight pack can prove successful in an 8 team race.
The girls race will be equally as competitive and exciting as District 5 has five teams ranked in the top eleven in the state (per Milesplit Virtual Meet), four of whom are ranked in the top five! It is a blessing and a curse to have such great talent in one district, as we will unfortunately see two of these top teams not moving on to the regional race. That being said, there is a lot to look forward to for this meet as every team will want to be on their game. The main challengers are Hebron (second), Southlake Carroll (third), Flower Mound (fourth), Marcus (fifth), and Northwest Nelson (eleventh).
From the CCCAT Coaches poll perspective, Carroll is ranked second, Flower Mound third, Marcus fourth, and Hebron eighth in the state. All of these teams have been racing well up to this point and have battled each other over the prior weeks, so each one will have a good idea of what they need to do to survive and advance.
Hebron has a gap of a mere 11 seconds between their 1-4 runners, but it will be their fifth runner who they will need to rely on in order to place high. There is nearly a minute drop off between their 4 and 5 runners, but if they can have someone step up and close that gap they will prove hard to beat with their top four of Abby Riordan, Aaliya Fazel, Keaton Morrison, and Kaitlyn Irving all so close near the front pack of runners.
The Carroll girls will need to rely on their big race experience in this meet. With four girls returning who placed in the top 12 at the 2016 district race, they will need to lean on this experience to defend their district title again. Running well thus far this season, they have faced their district opponents in multiple races; the biggest being the Marcus I invitational where they placed second overall and first amongst the girls teams racing Saturday. Though Marcus I was very early in the season, these meets prove valuable as benchmarks for the runners when it comes to the championship racing.
Both with a solid 1-2 punch, the Flower Mound and Marcus girls teams will look to have their 3-5 runners step up in this tight district race. In 2016, the Flower Mound girls were just outside of the top three and will look to prove their are in contention for a state medal this year, but will need to get through this crazy competitive district first. The Marcus girls will be itching to get on the podium at the state meet after a fourth place performance last year. The good news for them is they return all of their varsity runners from 2016, they also placed second in this district and will use that experience on Saturday.
Ultimately, this is going to be an extremely competitive race where a team who could place on the podium at State might not even make it to the Region 1 meet. On both the girls and boys side we will see tremendous individual and team talent. Don't miss it.