Runners will descend upon Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock on Monday morning for the right to earn a qualification in the Class 6A state meet. The top four teams and top 10 individual placers from a non-qualifying team in each race will earn an automatic berth.
Schools in the Star Local Media coverage area has some of the best runners in the state with the Flower Mound girls fresh off winning its first state title in program history. Prosper, which won the District 5-6A title and is ranked No. 3 in 6A by the Cross Country Coaches Association of Texas, as well as No. 2 Southlake Carroll are expected to challenge the top-ranked Lady Jaguars for the team title in Lubbock.
Prosper made it a clean sweep of the team titles at the 5-6A meet by capturing first place in the boys’ division, and the Eagles will take the next step towards state gold. But Prosper will face stiff tests by top-ranked Southlake Carroll, No. 3 El Paso Eastwood, No. 7 Plano West and No. 10 Flower Mound.
The state-ranked Wolves got redemption at the District 6-6A meet after coming up short on a regional qualification a year ago, capturing first place in the team standings as well as on an individual basis. Senior Hudson Heikkinen won the boys race by more than 20 seconds. He carries the fastest time of any male runner into regionals, having run a 14:59.4 on Sept. 11.
Prosper’s one-two duo of juniors Jack Johnston and Dawson Svoboda give the Eagles a solid one-two punch at the top of the lineup. Johnston has the eighth-fastest time (15:21.3) of any runner in the field while Svoboda (15:25.4) is 13th on that list, according to athletic.net.
And Prosper also has some of the top times in the region on the girls’ side. Shewaye Johnson, a junior who transferred to Prosper during the summer after winning the 2020 Class 3A state title as a member of the Ballard, Iowa, cross country team, owns the top time in Region I-6A with a 17:24.7. Her Prosper teammate, senior Aubrey O’Connell, the 2019 state champion, owns the fourth-fastest time (17:38.4). Senior Sadie Gonzales is 20th on the list.
Of course, Prosper has to get through Flower Mound first.
Flower Mound appears to be more than ready to make a run at a second straight state title.
The Lady Jaguars are coming off a dominant performance at the District 6-6A meet, where they scored 15 team points and the top five finishers in the race were from Flower Mound. Natalie Cook, a senior who owns the second-fastest time (17:25.8) of any female runner in Region I, won the girls’ race by more than a minute. Nicole Humphries, Virginia Knight, Samantha Humphries and Alexandra Fox also placed in the top five at the district meet.
Flower Mound’s boys also advanced out of the district meet by placing second, while Coppell qualified its entire team for the Region I-6A meet after finishing in third place in the standings. Junior Andrew Mullen continued a successful 2021 season by placing third overall. Earlier this season, Mullen ran to a personal best 15:24.6 at the Southlake Carroll Invitational. That time has him ranked as the 11th-fastest performer in the region.
Little Elm senior Jason Alcala is making a strong case for a state berth in his final season in a Lobo uniform. His time of 15:20.9, which he clocked at the Frisco ISD Invitational on Sept. 18, has him ranked seventh on the list of the fastest runners in Region I-6A.
Allen senior Brenna Zerby has been a consistent performer for the Lady Eagles, and she proved that again Oct. 15 when she placed fourth at the 5-6A meet in McKinney. She ran a personal best 18:05 at Southlake Carroll, which puts her No. 9 on the list of top times for a female runner in I-6A. Sophomore Mia McGlade checks in at No. 23 (18:39.8).
Both Hebron and Marcus will bring a full girls contingent to Lubbock. Lady Hawk senior Jenna Kirby leads the way for Hebron, running an 18:22.78 at Southlake Carroll, good for No. 13 on the list of top performers in Region I. Senior Hannah Lewis is No. 21 with an 18:35.1.
McKinney Boyd’s boys are bound for regionals. The Broncos are led by senior Jack Morrissey and junior Zach Martin, who finished second and fourth, respectively, at the District 5-6A meet. Morrissey’s best time this season was a 15:43.4, which he ran at the Plano ISD Invitational on Aug. 14.