Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Highland Park cross country looks to extend Region II winning streak
Different storylines. Same high expectations.
Highland Park enters Saturday's Region II cross country meet with a streak of titles in the event - the girls have won the last four, the boys have won the last three. But its dominance in recent years will be tested on a new course.
Vandergriff Park in Arlington had served as the race location for years. The new course is at Lynn Creek Park in Grand Prairie.
"It's not quite as hilly, mostly a flat course all on grass," boys' coach Randy Adair said. "We anticipate that we're gonna run some fast times on this one."
Adair has reason for optimism. He lost just one runner to graduation and returns every participant from the boys' state meet last season, where Highland Park placed fourth. Junior's Rico Lara and Griffin Beitter have been the team's top finishers heading into the postseason schedule.
The girls' team returns to regionals with more uncertainty. It's Susan Bailey's first season as head coach after spending eight years under now retired coach Jerry Sutterfield. The 2012 team that won its third-straight 4A state championship is much different than this season's team. Bailey lost two runners to graduation and two others who left the team in pursuit of another sport.
But the girls' team is still led by senior Natalie Rathjen, who placed fourth overall at state last season. Bailey said she expects Rathjen and the rest of her runners to give the same effort Saturday that they have all season.
"The philosophy is still the same as it's always been and the kids have gone on as usual," Bailey said. "Coach Sutterfield, working with him for eight years, he prepared me. I'm not going to change anything from what he's done. That would be ridiculous."
Click here for Region II meet start times. And follow Kyle Fredrickson on Twitter: @kylefredrickson