Written by Michael Florek
3rd-place finish earns Plano West boys trip to state cross country meet
ARLINGTON — Plano West boys cross country coach Richard Grubbs did the math. He knew his team had finished third in the Region II cross country meet at Vandergriff Park on Saturday. He knew that earned the Wolves a trip to the state meet, their first since 2006.
But he waited to tell his team.
“I’m in year 29 of teaching and coaching,” Grubbs said. “I’ve done the excited thing, like in ’06. This time I kept it quiet.”
Senior Grant Copeland led the way with a third-place finish, which earned him a spot on the stage at the awards ceremony. When the team regrouped after the race, Grubbs told his team to go up there and support Copeland.
And by the way, the team was going to state.
The runners erupted, and their excitement continued through the awards ceremony. Copeland and the team got the loudest cheers of the day, and Grubbs was the recipient of a long line of hugs after the ceremony was over.
“It’s great, especially when you have five of the seven are seniors,” Grubbs said.
Highland Park wins again: Another Region II meet, another 4A sweep for Highland Park. After winning both the boys and girls regional title last year en route to a girls state title, the Scots won regionals again this season.
Led by sophomore Rico Lara’s eighth-place finish, the boys beat Frisco Wakeland and Lovejoy to win the title. The girls, without star Natalie Rathjen, notched two top-10 finishes as Mary Beth Hamilton and Kate Krikorian finished sixth and eighth, respectively, to hold off Frisco and Forney for the title.
“The kids always focus on team first and individual second, and they knew the competition was great,” Highland Park girls coach Jerry Sutterfield said. “We were tighter as a team. We knew we had gaps in district, and we tried to address those through some of the training we did this week.”
Freshman takes regional title: In a regional that consisted of some of the best 4A girls teams and individuals in the state, a freshman stole the show.
Forney’s Caylon McMillan won the regional, finishing in 18:01.48, 54 seconds faster than her second-place time in the district meet last week and 10 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Katie Ruhala of Lovejoy on Saturday.
“I was just hoping to get top three,” McMillan said. “I guess I just took my chance and got first.”
In 5A, another freshman qualified for the state meet as McKinney Boyd’s Aaliyah Miller finished fifth.
Sanger strong in 3A: The Sanger girls took the 3A regional title while the boys finished third. Both teams will go to the state meet.
Follow Michael Florek on Twitter at @michaelflorek