Tomorrow in Lubbock, Region I-6A and Region I-5A’s best runners will compete to extend their 2019 cross country seasons.
The regional meets will both take place at Mae Simmons Park, where the 5A girls and boys will take off at 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., respectively, while the 6A girls and boys will follow and round out the day with races at 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
While the meet is more than 300 miles from the campus of regional-qualifier Coppell, which will send both its girls and boys groups after taking first and second, respectively, at the District 6-6A meet, head coach Nick Benton isn’t concerned with the lengthy trip.
“The kids are focused, and they’re ready to run. They’re trying to keep the momentum from district going, and we’ll see how it goes. … We travel a lot during the season, so they’re used to it,” he said. “We went to Southern California for a meet, we went to Round Rock and we went to The Woodlands for the first week of the year, so traveling doesn’t really bother us.
“It’s business as usual.”
A trio of 6-6A programs will be in action in aforementioned Coppell, Flower Mound and Marcus, as the Jaguars took the boys team title at the 6-6A meet, the Lady Jaguars finished as runners-up to the Cowgirls, and Marcus earned third as a team in both races. Individually, Hebron will send junior sisters Keaton and Avery Morrison to the girls competition and senior Ross McKee to the boys.
Additionally, The Colony will send both its girls squad, which won District 8-5A for the second straight year, and its boys team, which finished third this fall.
As a group, the Cougars (who didn’t qualify for the regional event a season ago) and Lady Cougars will be looking for improved results, as only alum Haeley Pines advanced to state in 2018.
One team that will be looking to maintain its 2018 finish is the Coppell girls group, which bested Flower Mound at the state event to earn team gold. The Cowboys didn’t advance as a group in 2018, though Benton said that both the Cowboys and Cowgirls will enter Monday’s race expecting to advance.
Standing in their way are several perennial contenders, including Flower Mound, which saw the Jaguars and Lady Jaguars each medal at state a season ago and alum Alex Maier win boys individual gold. This season, Flower Mound senior Jarrett Kirk and Coppell junior Evan Caswell, who won 6-6A, could duke it out for a shot at the regional title.
“I don’t think it’s a secret that Flower Mound and Southlake (Carroll) are very strong,” Benton said. “The Keller girls are looking very good, as well, and the Marcus boys are a good team. They’ve beat us twice this year, so we know that they’re out there, and there’s typically one or two El Paso teams that just kind of show up. You’ve just got to be careful in how you go about it when you get down there.”
Though the meet falls on a Monday, which is different from many of the weekend meets teams compete in throughout the regular season, Benton said not much has changed in his group’s preparation.
Instead of leading up to the biggest race of the year, thus far, with specially tailored workouts that don’t mirror what his program has done throughout the year, Benton believes in a familiar approach.
“I just feel like consistency is better than trying to figure out how to make everybody perform at a higher level by changing the workout,” he said. “We don’t really change a whole lot this time of year. … As far as just doing something off-the-wall, we don’t do things like that in our program.”
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