Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Southlake Carroll harriers working to defend state cross country titles
After sweeping Class 5A state championships on the boys and girls side each of the last two years, Southlake Carroll’s cross country program once again has lofty aspirations.
“More than anything that’s the ultimate goal, to win state,” coach Justin Leonard said. “We just try and go out and be the best team we can possibly be that year. We don’t really dwell on who we lost and what we’ve got coming back.”
Going for a third straight sweep will be tough without a lot of varsity experience returning.
“Last year, we had a bunch of kids that had big-meet experience. This year, we have very few kids that have big-meet experience,” Leonard said. “When I’m talking about big meet, I’m talking about when you’re running against the better teams in the area.
“It takes a different type of runner. The kids, they are great runners, but whenever it’s a big meet they’ll either rise to the occasion or back down. So that’s the challenging part is that we’ve got to get them in some big meets early, and see how they respond from that.”
Connor Hendrickson placed eighth at state last year, and Eli Canal was 17th as Carroll finished 44 points ahead of second-place The Woodlands. They are the only two boys returning for Carroll from the team that competed at state.
On the girls side, sophomore Antigone Archer and senior Katie Burnham return from the squad that won state by 63 points over Kingwood. Archer finished 10th at state, and Burnham was 24th.
“On both sides we graduated a lot of really good runners,” Burnham said. “We’re going to have to have younger girls and guys step up and continue what we have done in the past.”
Hendrickson, a senior who was on varsity for the 2011 and 2012 championships, said Carroll just needs to stick to what has worked before.
“In 2011 we scored the lowest state points with 20. In 2012 we scored 27,” Hendrickson said. “We don’t need to do anything different, we don’t need to overthink anything.”
Other teams to watch
Flower Mound Marcus: Returns five of the seven runners from the team that was fifth at state in 5A. That includes the team’s top runner, Logan Hendrix, who was 10th individually. Jacob Babbidge emerged last track season, running 4:20 in the 1,600 meters and 9:24 in the 3,200.
Highland Park: Finished in the top 10 in 4A at state each of the last four years, including fourth last season. All seven runners from last year’s state team are back, paced by Rico Lara (30th at state) and Griffin Beitter.
Kaufman: Won the 3A state championship in 2011 and finished sixth in 2012.
Lovejoy: The team’s top two runners, Kendall Joiner and Grant Ballard, are among four returnees from last year’s team that placed seventh in 4A at state. Joiner ran 4:25 in the 1,600.
Flower Mound Marcus: Returns every runner from the team that finished third in 5A at state. That group is led by Sydney Brown (14th at state) and Madeline Reed (15th at state).
Hebron: Megan Montgomery finished sixth in 5A at state, and she is one of five returnees from a team that placed fifth at state. Also back is Alondra Hoyos, who ran 4:59 in the 1,600 in track.
Highland Park: Won three consecutive 4A state championships and returns Natalie Rathjen, Kate Krikorian and Becky Ketch. Rathjen placed fourth at state. Krikorian was 19th.
Sanger: The defending 3A state champion. Sanger has finished in the top 10 at state each of the last six years.
Oct. 26: TAPPS state meet at Baylor
Nov. 2: UIL regional meets
Nov. 9: UIL state meet at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock