It was a good week to be a Denton or Collin County runner.
Local teams dominated the Region I 6A cross country meet Monday in Lubbock, highlighted by a pair of Plano ISD students and the Lovejoy machine. Schools from Keller, Lewisville and Flower Mound also had outstanding results at the race, sending several teams and individuals to state.
The Class 6A state meet is set for Nov. 4 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.
Here’s a look at how teams and individuals from Plano and Allen fared at Mae Simmons Park:
Plano Senior’s Hillyard wins another race
Junior Ashlyn Hillyard followed her District 6-6A championship with another first-place finish - this time at the regional meet.
The Plano Senior athlete crossed the finish line in 16:41.71, 15 seconds faster than second-place finisher Quinn Owen of Marcus. Hillyard’s time was the fourth-best finish in the state of girls running the 5,000-meter race.
“[Winning] means a lot,” she said. “I’ve trained so hard this year and it’s just nice seeing it paying off. Not only that, I feel like I’m winning for my parents and coaches who have supported and worked with me throughout the season.”
This will be Hillyard’s second consecutive trip the state meet after finishing in 30th place last year.
The junior dominated the District 6-6A race on Oct. 12, finishing in first by more than one minute. Her first place time at regionals is a jump of eight spots from last year, when she finished in ninth place at regionals.
She’ll be looking to make a similar jump at state this year.
East’s Vallejo qualifies for state
The Region I 6A boys heat is understood to be the most talented group of runners in the state, with behemoths from Flower Mound, Keller, Southlake and El Paso usually at the top of the standings when all is said and done.
Plano East senior Devin Vallejo made sure to put his name in the conversation, and by race end, he had booked a trip to state.
Vallejo finished in 17th place — the 10th individual not from a qualifying team — and qualified for the state race with a time of 15:27.32. Vallejo edged out Davon Rodriguez of Arlington Bowie and Preston Wilschetz of Plano West for the final spot.
The state qualification was vindictive for Vallejo, whose cross country season was cut short last year due to injury.
“He put himself in position early on,” said Robert Reed, East head coach. “This is the toughest region in the state and you have to get out quickly to give yourself a chance.”
With 600 meters to go, Vallejo was in 30th place. He pushed into the top-20 over the final stretch and found himself qualifying for state with his finish.
“This is only his second year running cross country, and he has loads of potential that he is just beginning to scratch the surface of,” Reed said.
Lovejoy continues dominant ways
Death, taxes and the Lovejoy cross country program.
Yet another dominant performance by the Leopards at the Region II 5A meet qualified the Lovejoy boys for the state meet Monday in Grand Prairie, while Carson Hockersmith continued her impressive career in the girls heat.
The boys had five runners finish in the top 20 and seven in the top 35, leading to an easy team championship. The Lovejoy average finish time was 16:34 — nearly 20 seconds faster than second-place Frisco Wakeland. Sophomore Brady Laboret finished in 16:13.64, highest on the team. He was followed by sophomore William Muirhead (16:30.68), senior Bradley Davis (16:35.84), senior Ryan Spruell (16:46.85), junior Brett Pedersen (16:47.43) and senior Ryan Brands (16:50.91).
Lovejoy will be joined at the state meet by Lakeland, Dallas Conrad and Prosper. The Leopards won the 5A state championship last season.
Hockersmith did not qualify for the state meet this year, finishing in 13th place of individuals not from a qualifying team. The junior has been Lovejoy’s strongest female runner since her freshman season and will eye a state appearance in her senior season.
Allen’s girl duo of sophomore Emilie Morgan and junior Monroe Michelle finished in 32nd and 57th place, respectively… East’s Martha Brown, a state qualifier in 2016, finished in 29th place… After coming in second place the individual District 6-6A standings, West’s Wilschetz finished in 23rd place, and 12th out of individuals not from a qualifying team.
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