Both of the Class 3A state cross-country races will be full of area runners, which has almost come to be expected.
There are those returning after building on their success from last fall. There are those who have never missed competing in the biggest race of the year. There are those getting to experience it for the first time.
It all will happen at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock on Saturday with the 3A girls 3,200 race at 10:50 a.m. and the 3A boys 5K to follow at 11:20 a.m.
The Texoma qualifiers are led by teams from Whitesboro, which captured both the boys and girls Region II championships.
The Whitesboro girls won the region title with a total of 68 points, well ahead of districtmate Pilot Point, which was the runner-up with 127 points.
Senior Peyton Muntz led the Lady Bearcats by claiming the individual region title with a time of 11:50.40. She finished 23 seconds ahead of Pilot Point’s Brisa Hernandez.
Whitesboro was sixth as a team a year ago and Muntz improved from 38th with a time of 13:44.04 as a junior.
Junior Vanessa Melchor was 10th with a time of 12:48.99, freshman Zalenka Brannan was 13th in 12:59.20, freshman Allison Muntz was 17th with a time of 13:07.65, sophomore Litzi Juarez was 51st in 13:55.35, junior Jacquelyn Maldonado was 54th with a time of 13:56.33 and sophomore Skyler Brannan placed 84th in 14:25.80.
The Bearcats also claimed the region title for the first time with 87 points, finishing ahead of districtmate Pilot Point and Chapel Hill, which each earned 101 points.
Senior Hunter Case led Whitesboro with a ninth-place finish in 16:52.59 while sophomore Jesus Flores was 11th in 16:53.54, sophomore Osvaldo Melchor was 16th in 17:11.22, freshman Deacon Carey was 29th in 17:40.96, senior Angel Ruiz was 34th in 17:50.40, sophomore Adrian Landeros was 39th in 17:58.59 and junior Christian Chitwood was 76th in 18:40.09.
“Last year I felt that was the best team I had been a part of. This year I think we are even better, winning the region title for the first time in school history. If we can win the region title why can’t we win a state title?,” Case said. And the girls have been good all year long. We both have a chance at top finishes.”
Whitesboro was the region runner-up last year to Pilot Point and finished fourth at state. But three of the top four runners graduated, including state runner-up Michael Urbina and Max Merlyn, who was ninth at state.
The goal was to just try and get back to state from what is considered a tough region.
“That was definitely the attitude at the beginning of the year,” said Case, who is a four-time state qualifier. “As it went on we started clicking, getting it together and running better times.”
And now the Bearcats enter as region champs.
Last year Van Alstyne qualified as a team. This season the Panthers will be represented by a pair of individuals — senior Bryce Sevarino qualified with a time of 17:12.80 to finish 17th and sophomore Blake Hyatt also advanced in 18th place in 17:13.92.
It is the fourth straight state berth for Sevarino and the second straight for Hyatt.
Gunter sophomore Sarah Denton qualified for state for the second straight season with a ninth-place finish at the region meet in 12:46.04, matching her effort in 2018.
Denton is looking to build on her time of 13:12.07 that saw her finish 71st at state.
S&S is sending a pair of first-timers to state. Freshman Kendal Fellegy earned her berth with a third-place region finish in 12:17.91. Sophomore Jackson Hake qualified with a seventh-place finish in a time of 16:49.44 after not even reaching the region meet as a freshman.
Howe junior Marissa Agee is also headed to state after a sixth-place finish with a time of 12:41.72. She improved on placing 39th last year at regionals but does have state experience — she was the Region II champ in the 800 meters and finished sixth in the state in the event this past spring.