Allen Brenna Zerby

Allen senior Brenna Zerby placed fourth in last season’s District 5-6A cross country meet.

McKinney’s Myers Park figures to be a pretty popular destination throughout the week. Just three days after hosting runners for the District 10-5A cross country meet, student-athletes from 5-6A will descend on that same course to begin their postseason.

Last year, the Allen boys and McKinney Boyd girls relied on their depth to best a talented field that included eventual Class 6A state champion Brynn Brown of Denton Guyer. With Brown having graduated, the girls individual title is up for grabs on Friday in McKinney, while Prosper junior Dawson Svoboda is back to defend his championship on the boys side.

There’s no shortage of standout runners in 5-6A between Prosper, Allen, Little Elm and McKinney ISD, but here are a few worth keeping an eye as the cross country postseason gets underway.

BOYS

Jason Alcala

Little Elm, Sr.

The fastest male cross country in the history of Little Elm High School, Alcala is eager to finish on top in his final year in high school. He broke his own school-record time at the Frisco ISD Invitational on Sept. 18 – and it has held up as the fastest time of any District 5-6A runner this year. 

Last season, Alcala became the first Lobo male cross country runner since 2017 to qualify for the regional meet. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Alcala should earn another berth into the regional meet as an individual qualifier. He is also the school record holder in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs in track and field.

Jack Johnston

Prosper, Jr.

Johnston is one part of a solid one-two punch at the top of the Eagles’ lineup along with fellow junior Dawson Svoboda. At last season’s district meet, Svoboda and Johnston finished at the top of the individual standings with Svoboda capturing first place in a time of 15:21.3. 

But this year, Johnston owns a slightly better time as both runners have turned in respectable performances. He ran a 15:21.3 at the Southlake Carroll XC Invitational on Aug. 28 – a little more than four seconds faster than Svoboda.

It’s a one-two combination that could very well give Prosper the edge to compete for first place in what is a highly competitive district.

Jack Morrissey

McKinney Boyd, Sr.

Morrissey has the district’s fourth-fastest 5K time of 15:43.3, which he posted at the Plano ISD Invitational on Aug. 14. He captured first place at Plano and has placed in the top 10 in four meets – fourth at the Hebron Friday Night Hawk Invitational and sixth at both the Lubbock ISD Invitational and the McKinney Boyd Bronco Stampede. 

Morrissey and Boyd sophomore Zach Martin were individual qualifiers in the regional meet last season. Martin owns the fifth-fastest time of all 5-6A runners with a mark of 15:52.

 

GIRLS

Shewaye Johnson

Prosper, Jr.

Although Johnson will be making her postseason debut at Prosper, expect the standout Lady Eagle to be in contention for a district championship.

A transfer from Iowa, where she won state championships in both track and cross country at Ballard High School, Johnson has seamlessly made the transition as one of the top runners in Prosper’s state-ranked arsenal.

The Lady Eagles are ranked No. 3 in Class 6A by the Cross County Coaches Association of Texas and sport three of the four fastest 5K times among runners in 5-6A. Johnson leads the way with a personal-record time of 17:24.7, which she ran Aug. 28 at the Southlake Carroll XC Invitational.

Johnson joins a talent-rich cast that includes recent Oklahoma State commit and senior Aubrey O’Connell, the 2019 6A state champion, and senior Sadie Gonzales, the district runner-up in 2019.

Brenna Zerby 

Allen, Sr.

Although the 5-6A girls will have their hands full trying to keep pace with Prosper in the team standings, Zerby leads an Allen group that could contend for some individual and team hardware at the district meet.

Zerby was a breakout star for the Lady Eagles dating all the way to her freshman year when she qualified for the 6A state meet and did so by beginning her postseason with a bronze medal in district competition. 

Since then, she has placed fourth in back-to-back years at the district meet and should find herself in the medal mix with the third-fastest time in 5-6A on the season. Zerby clocked an 18:05.0 Aug. 28 in Southlake and has finished in the top 10 of all but one 5K race during her senior year.

Zerby, along with sophomore Mia McGlade, who holds the district’s fifth-fastest time at 18:39.8, lead the Lady Eagles into the postseason.

Bella Evans

McKinney Boyd, Sr.

Despite entering last year’s 5-6A meet seeded outside the top 10, Evans rose to the occasion during a banner morning for the Lady Broncos. She placed 10th overall and was one of three Boyd girls runners to crack the top 10 en route to capturing a district championship.

As a senior, Evans has been the anchor of head coach Keith Pierce’s lineup with a personal-record time of 19:07.3, run on Aug. 14 in Boyd’s first meet of the season, the Plano ISD Invitational. She was just six seconds off that pace on Oct. 2 during an 18th-place finish at the Jesuit XC Classic.

In that meet, the Lady Broncos finished fifth as a team and raced against both Prosper and Allen, who placed first and fourth, respectively, in Boyd’s final tune-up before the district meet.

For continued news and coverage on the local sports scene, follow Matt Welch on Twitter.

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