McKinney’s Myers Park figures to be a pretty popular destination throughout the week. On Tuesday, runners from 10-5A will convene on that very course to run their annual district meet.
Headlining the race is perennial powerhouse Lovejoy, whose boys and girls teams are both ranked in the state’s top 10 in Class 5A. The Leopards and Lady Leopards swept the team standings for the third consecutive year and doing so again will mean navigating through talented programs at McKinney and Prosper Rock Hill, among others.
There’s no shortage of standout runners in 10-5A between Lovejoy, McKinney North, Rock Hill and The Colony, but here are a few worth keeping an eye as the cross country postseason gets underway.
The Colony, Jr.
A regional qualifier as a sophomore, Judelson has picked up where he left off at the end of last season. In a stacked field in which the top four runners in 10-5A are separated by less than one second, according to Athletic.net, it is Judelson that owns the fastest time. He ran a 15:57 at the Flower Mound Invitational on Sept. 25 in a time of 15:55.7.
And Judelson would like to have his teammates running with him at the regional meet. The Colony finished third in the team standings at last year’s district meet, but because of a rule change that applied only to the 2020 season, just the top two teams from each district advanced to the regional meet.
But with a return to normalcy this year, The Colony has its sights set on qualifying as a team.
Barr and senior Rohan Sharma headline a balanced lineup for the state-ranked Leopards – fourth in the latest Cross Country Association of Texas Class 5A state poll. Barr posted the top time of the season for Lovejoy at the MileSplit TX Invitational at South Lakes Park in Denton on Sept. 11, clocking a 15:55, exactly one second faster than Sharma’s time at the same meet.
Tate has finished in the top 30 in at least four meets, including a third-place finish at the Hebron Friday Night Hawk Invitational on Aug. 20.
Last season, Lovejoy added more trophies to the case by winning the district and regional titles and finished fifth in the team standings at the state meet.
Gabriel De La O
Prosper Rock Hill, Jr.
Rock Hill qualified its entire team for the 5A meet in its inaugural season last year and De La O was a big reason why. De La O and the Blue Hawks are eager to build on that performance as the postseason begins Tuesday in McKinney.
De La O has been a consistent performer for Rock Hill, recording his fastest time of the season at the Denton Braswell Little D Classic on Sept. 24 with a 15:58.5. He has placed in the top 25 at all five meets that the Blue Hawks have competed with his best showing occurring at Braswell, where he took fourth overall.
De La O is also an AAU All-American in the 5K as well as the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs.
Big things could be in store for the Lady Leopards in the coming weeks. On the heels of a seventh-place team finish at state last season, Lovejoy’s girls team currently sits at No. 1 in Class 5A according to the Cross Country Coaches Association of Texas on the strength of first-place finishes at the McNeil Invitational, the MileSplit TX Invitational and the Lovejoy XC Fall Festival.
The Lady Leopards currently account for five of the seven fastest 5K times in 10-5A, according to Athletic.net, and four of those marks were run by sophomores.
The lone exception among that group is Morefield, the two-time reigning district champion who added a regional title to her cross country resume last season. As a junior, Morefield remains among the state’s elite with three top-five finishes, including a win at the McNeil meet in Round Rock — the site of the 5A state meet.
Joined by sophomores Sara Morefield, Kailey Littlefield, Peyton Benson and Kate Colson as part of a deep Lovejoy lineup, Amy Morefield sports 10-5A’s top 5K time at 17:36.3.
Galilea De La Garza
McKinney North, Fr.
Just a freshman, De La Garza has wasted no time getting acclimated to varsity competition as the next in a long line of promising Lady Bulldog runners.
She began her freshman year with a win at the Southlake Carroll XC Invitational on Aug. 28 by running a 19:56.6 and later posted a personal-record time of 18:51.3 at the Frisco ISD Invitational on Sept. 18, where she took fifth overall.
De La Garza got a look at Myers Park during North’s run through the McKinney Boyd Bronco Stampede on Sept. 11 and will look to help the Lady Bulldogs earn some team or individual hardware at that same course on Tuesday.
De La Garza currently has the fifth-fastest 5K time in the district, according to Athletic.net, with sophomore Alma Pena (19:55.8) and freshman Olivia Kennedy (20:07.4) also ranking among the top 15.
Rees Van Voorhis
Prosper Rock Hill, Sr.
Van Voorhis has made quite the leap since her junior season. She placed 22nd at the district meet last year and was sixth among Rock Hill runners.
On Tuesday, Van Voorhis could very well be the first Lady Blue Hawk to cross finish line.
Van Voorhis enters the postseason sporting the sixth-fastest 5K time among 10-5A runners at 18:51.5, logged Sept. 24 at the Braswell Little D Classic — a race that doubled as the first varsity win of her career.
Van Voorhis looks to help Rock Hill build off a successful debut in 2020 when the then-first-year program finished second at the district meet and fourth at regionals. The Lady Blue Hawks have had to replace the duo of Alexis Svoboda and Kirstin Towle, both of whom graduated, and are looking to names like Van Voorhis, sophomore Lauren Polk and junior Lena Schmid to keep that momentum rolling for 2021.