WHITESBORO — It was just a simple goal as she entered her senior year. All Peyton Muntz wanted to do was improve as the first cross-country race of the season approached.

“I never got in the 12s last year. I just wanted to be under 13 minutes,” she said. “The first meet of the year I ended up getting an 11-something.”

From there, the wins started piling up. She was the District 9-3A champion and then the Region II champion. Next up was state.

“I was ready to go,” she said. “I was ready to win it.”

Muntz captured the Class 3A individual crown and less than two weeks later she has secured her next goal by signing a letter of intent to run for Stephen F. Austin.

“I found something I love and am passionate about. I knew I wanted to run in college but I figured it would be D-II schools,” Muntz said. “Even before I started talking to the coach, I loved the school and knew that’s where I wanted to go. I was really hoping to get an offer.”

There will be two familiar faces in Nacogdoches — Whitesboro’s Max Merlyn and Michael Urbina just finished their freshman seasons with SFA’s men’s program.

“I like that I have Max and Michael there,” Muntz said. “When it was us three training for state track, we got real close. They’re really excited for me and I’m excited too.”

Muntz transferred to Whitesboro after spending her first two years at Frisco Reedy. She didn’t qualify for the state cross-country meet as a junior — finishing 38th in the region with a time of 13:44.04 — but by the spring she had made state in track, advancing in the 3,200 and placing sixth with a time of 11:50.33.

“Going to state in track, it was a light-bulb moment that I could do this,” Muntz said.

When August rolled around, Muntz was ready to see if her training had paid off. It did as she helped lead Whitesboro to the 3A Region II championship for the first time and she took the region title in 11:50.30, winning by 23 seconds.

At the state meet, Whitesboro just missed getting a medal with a fourth-place finish. Muntz ended up at the top of podium with her winning time of 11:28.06 — an eight-second victory over San Antonio Cole’s Finley Hunting. Tornillo’s Kylene Elias took the bronze at 11:37.79.

She will now turn her attention to a second straight state track berth and attempt to qualify in both the 3,200 and the 1,600.

“That’s the plan,” Muntz said. “I’m going to try for the triple crown. I feel like if I work hard enough I can do it.”

Stephen F. Austin finished as the Southland Conference runner-up and was just six points behind winner Central Arkansas and went on to place seventh at the NCAA South Central Region meet.

This came after a pair of top 20 finishes at the NCAA South Central Region meet the previous two seasons. In 2018, the Ladyjacks finished as the conference runner-up by four points while the program won the 2016 Southland championship and was eighth at the NCAA regional meet.

“When I heard how good the girls team was, it was an honor to be joining a school that has a such a good history,” Muntz said.