Written by SportsDayDFW.com
UIL state cross country roundup: Southlake Carroll three-peat; Highland Park's Rathjen cruises past competition; Kaufman medals
ROUND ROCK — “Three-peat” hasn’t been part of the Southlake Carroll’s vocabulary this season.
While the Dragons have been well aware of their recent history, they were running for a 2013 state championship at Old Settlers Park and weren’t “reliving” the 2011 and 2012 Class 5A team state titles that both the boys and girls teams won.
“It’s a new team, and a lot of kids graduated [from last year],” senior Jacob Pickle said. “We weren’t going for the three-peat, we were going for our own state championship. The three-peat is more of just an added title to go on top of that.”
Pickle, who missed the 2012 state meet with a stress fracture on his upper tibia, finished second in the 5A boys race to help the Dragons edge College Park by five points, 80-85. Connor Hendrickson and Elijah Canal also finished in the top 15 for Southlake Carroll, helping cancel out four College Park runners in the top 33.
One race earlier, the Southlake Carroll girls team pulled off a similar feat, clinching its third straight title by slipping past second-place New Braunfels by six points.
“We knew we had a chance if we got out well,” Carroll coach Justin Leonard said. “Our front four girls ran a phenomenal race … it was a total team effort, and we knew coming into the race it was going to be a tough battle.”
Senior Haley McFadden helped the Dragons close out the victory as the fifth runner. Throughout the season, McFadden had been Carroll’s seventh runner, but she outran her normal position in the lineup to help her team clinch another state title.
Rathjen finally gets individual title
Highland’s Park Natalie Rathjen was finally at full strength for a state meet, and she cruised to the 4A girls individual title in 17:41.78. She crossed the finish line 46 seconds before the second-place finisher.
“It definitely means a lot, I was so excited [to race healthy],” Rathjen said. “I’ve been working really hard, and it’s really rewarding.”
Rathjen finished fourth as a freshman and as a junior.
“It was a great race for her, she really deserved it and she’s worked so hard for this,” Highland Park coach Susan Bailey said. “It was her time, today was her day, and she took it.”
Highland Park’s streak of consecutive team state titles came to an end at three Saturday. The Scots finished second behind Canyon Randall.
Blunt wins in 4A
Frisco Heritage’s Carter Blunt took home the boys individual 4A title, finishing in 15:48.30. It was the sophomore’s second trip to the state meet, and his 23rd-place finish as a freshman helped lay the blue print for his triumph Saturday.
“I decided to take it off a little bit easier than usual,” Blunt said. “Last race I took off way too hard and was struggling on the second mile.”
Blunt was the only Dallas-area runner to medal in the boys 4A race, but Lovejoy and Frisco Wakeland finished second and third in the team competition. For Lovejoy, the second-place finish was its best showing at the 4A level after making the move from 3A. The Leopards won the 2010 3A title.
Kaufman boys medal
Led by junior Dylan Evans, Kaufman took home bronze in the boys Class 3A race. Kaufman finished with 126 points, just beating out Lufkin Hudson by five points for a spot on the podium. It was Kaufman’s fifth straight season placing in the top six at the state meet.
Sanger’s Jacob Perry finished 10th in the boys race, while Melissa’s Ashley New had the best showing from the Dallas area in the 3A girls race, placing eighth.