Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Cross country: District 4-4A teams set for meet
Ryan, Denton and Lake Dallas have all run in plenty of meets this year.
None have been as important as this one, though.
All three teams will run in the District 4-4A cross country meet today in Wichita Falls for a chance at a possible regional berth and to keep their seasons alive.
While cross country teams throughout the state run in a variety of events throughout the course of the season, they don't truly mean anything in determining who will advance to the regional and, eventually, the state meets. All of that is determined by the district meet, which qualifies the top three teams and top 10 individual runners to advance.
In short, an entire season can come down to one race.
"We're going to have to run our best meet of the year," Denton cross country coach Patrick Matous said. "Most coaches agree that you don't need to run an incredible race to move on by finishing second or third. It's kind of anticlimactic like that. We're not going to have to run out of our minds, but we'll definitely need our best race of the year."
The Broncos will look to make a splash in the boys race behind the leadership of seniors Chris Burke and Jake Taylor. The only two upperclassmen on the team, the duo has been crucial in helping Denton develop its other, younger runners.
"Those [underclassmen] are working to get better," Matous said. "There's been some good leadership out of [Burke and Clark] to help them. They've demanded that the younger kids push themselves and work to improve."
That improvement could pay off, as Denton seems to be on pace with some of the best teams in the district and could compete for a possible title with teams including The Colony and Wichita Falls Rider.
Denton's girls team, meanwhile, will rely on a young group including talented sophomore Emily Gray to jump into contention. In order to be competitive, however, Matous said that the Broncos need solid production from their other, more unheralded runners.
"They're so young, so it's hard to say," Matous said. "They run well as a group, and our third, fourth and fifth runners have been running well together. We're young so there's not much experience there, but that doesn't mean we can't compete."
Ryan, meanwhile, will look to team captains Luis Barraza and Jacob Springer to help a young group break on to the scene. The Raiders have plenty of capable runners and have managed to field two separate varsity teams in a number of events this year.
"We're kind of a no-name group of kids," Ryan coach Mike Pulattie said. "We never know who our No. 2 and No. 3 runners are. Our captains have charged up the team and been on the ball for us. My top five on the boys side are all pretty potent, but we don't have that one standout runner."Ryan's girls will look to jump into the mix with a young and, according to Pulattie, unpredictable lineup.
"We have a lot of really young girls, so we don't know what they can do well yet," he said. "They're a huge unknown for us, so I don't know. I've challenged them to run a lot faster than they have been, so we're just going to go and see what we can do."
Lake Dallas remains in the mix and will look to book a trip to the regional meet despite the loss of leading runners Taylor Lively and teammate Austin Miller. The duo finished in the top two spots of last year's district meet.
The 4-4A district meet will begin at 10 a.m. today in Wichita Falls.
MARSHALL MOORE can be reached at 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.