Below is The Dallas Morning News’ coverage of the 2020 UIL state cross country meet.
Note: We’ll add more results to this story as they become available.
Guyer’s Brown, Wylie’s Lambert take individual titles
ROUND ROCK — Flower Mound cross country coach Andrew Cook acknowledges his girls team has been successful, but also admits the team’s trophy case has a lot of silver and bronze in it. After what happened on Tuesday he will need to get room for gold.
Flower Mound broke through for its first team state title at the UIL State Cross Country Championships at Old Settlers Park. Overcoming losing a runner in competition, Flower Mound finished with 75 points while runner-up Southlake Carroll had 96. Flower Mound had finished in the top five in the previous three years, including a runner-up finish in 2018.
Carroll repeated as boys champions, leaning on strong team running to finish with 78 points to edge El Paso Eastwood (84). It’s Carroll’s fifth team title since 2012.
Individually, Denton Guyer’s Brynn Brown completed an undefeated season by winning the girls individual title and setting a state course record, overcoming an unexpected physical setback in the last kilometer. In the boys competition Wylie’s Luke Lambert used an excellent surge for the title, rebounding from what he considered a sub-standard performance at the Region II Meet two weeks ago.
The end of the girls race did not appear to be promising for Flower Mound as standout freshman Nicole Humphries was unable to finish because of a medical condition. The Lady Jaguars remained focused as a team and had their top five runners finish within a minute of each other, led by Natalie Cook placing seventh with a five-kilometer (3.1-mile) time of 18 minutes, 5.94 seconds.
Natalie Cook, the coach’s daughter, said winning a team title after watching the program come close times before created unusual emotions.
“We made sure we stayed together during the race. We had our best effort, but we didn’t leave each other either,” Natalie Cook said. “It’s awesome. It’s like a dream come true for us. I was still crying 30 minutes afterwards.”
Andrew Cook said getting out quickly was a key factor, as was the performances of Allison Buemi (13th, 18:19.37) and Samantha Humphries (16th, 18:26.40).
“I think this team had more confidence in itself,” Andrew Cook said. “I’m happy that we got it ahead of Carroll because of how good they are. Carroll is a phenomenal program and maybe the best team in the state … but not today.”
The Carroll boys needed similar teamwork for its success. University of Oklahoma signee Antonio Florcruz led the way by placing fifth in 15:31.30.
Solomon Chavez also had a strong showing by coming in 11th in 15;41.58. More important for the Dragons, their top five runners – all seniors – finished within 41.98 seconds of each other.
Finding out they won the state title sent a explosion of noise from Carroll backers, although some Carroll runners were crying or too tired to show any emotion at all, drained by an unusually warm day that reached 80 degrees.
“It goes to show that we put every single ounce of energy in this and every single ounce was worth it,” Florcruz said. “We told each other that if you see a Carroll runner, go with him.
“It’s all that chemistry tying together and growing up together. If we didn’t have that chemistry we wouldn’t have had a chance.”
Brown’s individual title didn’t appear to be dramatic. She took command in the first mile and finished in 16:25.89 rolling past the record of 16:38.30 set by Plano’s Ashlyn Hillyard in 2019.
In the last kilometer however, Brown said a hypoglycemic condition hit her and it made her dizzy and light-headed. She said thinking about former teammate Dylan Dorrel and her grandfather Nelson Starr helped motivate to fight through and finish. Dorrel passed away on Aug. 13 because of a heart condition and Starr passed away in 2016.
“Everything went well until the 4K, then I kind of went Saturn. I don’t know what happened,” Brown said. “I normally don’t go that deep in the well for inspiration.”
Brown collapsed after the race and was not able to walk steadily on her own until about an hour afterwards. Tuesday was the latest physical setback Brown, a University of North Carolina signee has overcome. She suffered a stress fracture that forced her to miss UIL competition last year and was unable to run at state as a freshman because of a tear in her ischial tuberosity, a bone that is connected to hamstring muscles.
“It’s so much more than running,” Brown said. “If I get the opportunity to inspire others doing something I love that’s a special reward.”
Sophie Atkinson of Katy Cinco Ranch was the individual runner-up in 16:57.44. Defending 6A state champion Aubrey O’Connell of Prosper placed fourth in 17:53.81 while Carroll’s Kaylie Cox was sixth in 18:00.50.
Lambert regrouped after placing fourth in 15:16.33 at the Region II Meet at the Jesse Owens Athletic Complex, which he called a bad day because he started too fast. He won state on Tuesday in 15:03.45, mainly by running the race his way.
Unlike several other state champions this weekend, which pulled ahead early and stayed there , Lambert was in 10th place after first the first mile. He slowly edged his way close to the lead in the second mile before taking over in the third, pulling ahead of Duncanville’s Martin Chavez (15:1728), a University of Texas signee. Lambert, who placed eighth at state last year, is receiving recruiting interest from Tulsa and Stanford.
“I needed to hit the splits more even. I tried to run each mile with the same energy. When there was 200 meters left and I hit the bridge I knew I had it because my kick is my specialty,” Lambert said. “This year I was here to run my own race, not just hold on. It feels good because it’s what I planned for all year.”
Coppell’s Evan Caswell placed eighth in 15:35.18.
Grapevine boys capture state cross country title, girls get second
ROUND ROCK — Monday was likely the best day of Grapevine cross country coach Rick Miller’s career as he is bringing home a pair of team trophies as well as the pride of coaching, an individual champion from the UIL cross country state championships. He can thank patience, durability and interchangeability for this special day.
Leading the way was his boys team, which captured the Class 5A state title at Old Settlers Park, the first boys team state championship in school history. Walker St. John led the way for the Mustangs by winning the individual state title in dramatic fashion.
The Grapevine girls also had a good day, placing second as a team. In the girls individual competition, Highland Park’s Cameron Fawcett placed second.
The most dramatic part of the day for Grapevine was St. John’s success, courtesy of a finish that would have been thrilling in a 400-meter race, let alone his five-kilometer run.
St. John successfully stalked Lubbock’s Isaac Alonzo before using a late sprint to pass him approximately 30 yards from the finish line and win in 14 minutes, 42.20 seconds to 14:44.21 for Alonzo. St. John rebounded from finishing third to Alonzo at the Region I Meet in Lubbock two weeks ago as well as improving on a 14th-place finish in 2019.
St. John said he had better course strategy after what happened in Lubbock.
“I was trying to stick behind him (Alonzo) the whole race before having a good finish. The last turn is about 120 yards out and I decided to start then. I started my finish too soon two weeks ago and he got me then,” St. John said.
“I wouldn’t say this was expected, but I knew it was within reason and within my goal.”
Grapevine’s team total was more one-sided with 61 points, comfortably ahead of Boerne Champion (104 points) and Denton (131).
Grapevine was fueled by top 15 finishes from Trey Leathers (11th, 15:17.85) and Josue Granados (13th, 15:21.15). Miller said a pleasant surprise was from his fifth runner, Kalil Bell, who came in 59th in 16:20.74. Bell battled a sprained lower-back muscle that kept him out of regionals.
“This was definitely up to our potential. We felt like we could win if we executed our race plan today,” Miller said. “I didn’t know until two days ago if Kalil would take the line for us. He showed a lot of toughness and heart.”
Grapevine’s girls team finished with 89 points to edge archrival Colleyville Heritage (91) for second place. Boerne Champion won the team title with 76 points.
Leading the way for Grapevine was Lila Necodemus, who placed 16th in 18:23.80. Miller said Necodemus’ performance was a pleasant surprise.
Necodemus credited teammate Abigayle Kuehne for bringing our her best. Kuehne placed 20th in 18:28.30.
“We fed off each other. We battled back and forth for awhile and used each other for motivation,” Necodemus said. “Everybody did really great. I think everybody ran their personal best.”
Miller said the girls team succeeded because of compressed running. Grapevine’s top five placers finished in a 19-second span with Caroline Burrow (29th, 18:36.44), Kylie Himes (35th, 18:40.17) and Lindsey Smith (39th, 18:42.84) rounding out the group.
“Lila was amazing today. To have her step in and be our number one today was not expected, but the one thing we have seen with this team is interchangeability in our top seven,” Miller said. “They were a team with conviction all season. I felt like we could do well if we ran our race.”
Fawcett was in contention for the individual title for most of the race. She trailed Isabel Conde De Frankenberg by 1.55 seconds at the two-mile mark before the Cedar Park freshman pulled away to win in 17:10.65. Fawcett — a Vanderbilt signee who placed eighth last year — finished in 17:29.01.
“Everyone here is chasing for a state title,” Fawcett said. “I would rather had that outcome, but this gives motivation to push for track season and next year.”
Defending Class 5A state champion and Oklahoma State signee Colleen Stegmann of Frisco Reedy placed fifth in 17:38.65 after running 17:17.03 in 2019. Also placing in the top 10 were Frisco Lone Star’s Veronica Ambrosionek (sixth, 17:39.31), Colleyville Heritage’s Allie Love (seventh, 17:52.25), Lucas Lovejoy’s Kailey Littlefield (eighth, 17:52.78) and Prosper Rock Hill’s Kirstin Towle (ninth, 17:54.49).
Area boys runners that placed in the top 10 included Rock Hill’s Blake Barnes (sixth, 15:07.70), Frisco Wakeland’s Natnael Enright (eighth, 15:09.14) and Mansfield Summit’s Jackson Chichon (10th, 15:10.85).
Melissa and Celina claim individual titles, just miss out on team titles
ROUND ROCK — What the Melissa boys team and the Celina girls team did at the UIL State Cross Country Championships on Tuesday was strikingly similar. Both teams had the thrill of individual standouts living up to expectations, the pride of strong team finishes and the sting of just missing out on team titles.
Melissa’s Judson Greer capped off an exemplary career by winning the Class 4A boys individual title. It was the third consecutive individual crown for Greer, a University of North Carolina signee.
Melissa also had a second-place team finish, but missed out on a team title to San Elizario that came down a tiebreaker as both teams finished with 57 points. The tiebreaker was the sixth finisher of each team and San Elizario’s Matthew Mease came in 93rd while Melissa’s Logan Tauch was 107th.
In the 4A girls competition Celina’s Adele Clarke held off a late charge from Port Lavaca Calhoun’s Emme Odonnell to win the individual title. The Celina girls team finished with 74 points, getting edged out by Canyon (68) for the team title. It’s the second consecutive year Canyon nipped Celina for the team championship.
Greer was never threatened in completing his personal trilogy, taking the lead 800 meters in and coasting to finish the five-kilometer (3.1-mile) course in 14 minutes, 51.85 seconds. San Elizario’s Edwin Gomez was second (15:30.43) while teammate Dilan Sanchez was third (15:33.66).
The result was a mild disappointment for Greer, who was shooting for the state course record of 14:14.02 set by La Porte’s Ryan Schoppe who is currently at Oklahoma State. The conditions were not ideal for setting a record as the course was wet because of morning rains and a strong southern wind.
“The wind was a factor, and it was a little warm, but when you’re out there alone it’s kind of hard to push yourself,” Greer said. “Winning three state titles was great. The first one was really special, but each time you win one it’s a great day. The best part was the team performance because that was the best we’ve done by far.”
Melissa also got a strong showing from senior Lucas Tauch, who capped a strong postseason by placing fifth individually in 15:55.72. Unfortunately for Melissa, San Elizario had a third top-10 finisher as Christopher Moreno was seventh in 16:02.54.
“I’m a little heartbroken because they worked so hard. I wanted it for them. I don’t have the words for it,” Melissa coach Kelly Pitzer said. “We had three freshmen out there, so this is good for the future.”
The girls race was more dramatic, but Clarke had a strong enough finishing to keep a cushion between herself and Odonnell. Clarke had a two-mile time of 11:31.04 to 11:35.55 for Odonnell.
Clarke persevered for the state title through unexpected course strategy.
“I took off at the mile mark and only (Odonnell) stayed with me. Normally I take off at 800 meters, but it just happened. I think I waited because this was the most nervous I’ve been all year,” said Clarke, while crying. “These are happiness tears. I’ve been working so hard for this. It doesn’t feel real.”
Celina’s lone senior, Lily Green, placed second among her team and 15 th overall in 12:23.27.
What worked in Canyon’s favor was having two top 10 finishers in Abree Winfrey (third, 11:45.83) and Breanna Stuart (ninth, 12:13.33). Kaufman came in third with 121 points led by Ellie Galan (14th, 12:20.40).
“All of our girls executed their race plan. We just came up a little short,” Celina coach Eric Krepps said. “We only lose one senior and we have a couple good girls coming up from eighth grade. We’ll be good next year.”
Melissa’s Abigail Bass came in fifth individually in 11:50.13.
An eighth-place individual finish by Osvaldo Melchor led the Whitesboro boys to a third-place finish overall. Whitesboro finished with 103 points, behind state champion Presidio (65 points) and Valley View (101).
Keene’s Cooper Bryant had the top individual finish among area runners with a five-kilometer (3.1-mile) time of 15:55.80. Onalaska’s William Boyce won the state title in 15:38.72 while Melchor had a time of 16:06.21.
In girls competition, Pilot Point freshman Addison Hite was the top area placer, coming in 11th individually with a two-mile time of 12:22.71. Cameron Yoe’s Yierra Flemings won the state title in 11:48.49.
Whitesboro placed seventh as a team with 156 points, led by Vanessa Melchor (28th, 12:49.80), while Pilot Point was ninth with 215 points. Lago Vista won the team title with 67 points.
1. Luke Lambert, Wylie 15:03.45
2. Martin David-Chavez, Duncanville 15:17.28
3. Israel David, EP Eastlake 15:25.54
4. Christopher Daniels, Klein 15:29.38
5. Antonio Florcruz, SL Carroll 15:31.30
6. Noah Haileab, Pear. Dawson 15:32.19
7. Taj Lee, SA Johnson 15:35.07
8. Evan Caswell, Coppell 15:35.18
9. Kevin Sanchez, Aus. Vandegrift 15:35.88
10. Randy Smith, Bridgeland 15:39.64
1. Brynn Brown, Denton Guyer 16:25.89
2. Sophie Atkinson, Katy Cinco Ranch 16:57.44
3. Heidi Nielson, Katy Cinco Ranch 17:38.13
4. Aubrey O’Connell, Prosper 17:53.81
5. Amalie Mills, SB Smithson Vly 17:59.22
6. Kaylie Cox, SL Carroll 18:00.50
7. Natalie Cook, Flower Mound 18:05.94
8. Ally Little, EP Franklin 18:07.54
9. Sara Scott, SB Smithson Vly 18:07.90
10. Natasja Beijen, The Woodlands 18:13.50
1. Judson Greer, Melissa 14:51.85
2. Edwin Gomez, San Elizario 15:30.43
3. Dilan Sanchez, San Elizario 15:33.66
4. Samuel Ashley, Canyon 15:46.02
5. Lucas Tauch, Melissa 15:55.72
6. Derrick Bible, Decatur 16:00.96
7. Christopher Moreno, San Elizario 16:02.54
8. Nick Bodenheimer, Long. Spring Hill 16:03.23
9. Kenny Bibb, Anna 16:14.09
10. John Alex Speer, Robinson 16:16.69
1. Adele Clarke, Celina 11:31.04
3. Abree Winfrey, Canyon 11:45.83
4. Taylor Grona, Fredericksburg 11:47.05
5. Abigail Bass, Melissa 11:50.13
6. Charzell Williams, Waxahachie Life 11:57.91
7. Jentry Lamirand, Decatur 11:58.41
8. Jetzibe Trevino, Huff. Hargrave 12:09.03
9. Breanna Stuart, Canyon 12:13.33
10. Jaci McGregor, Salado 12:16.25
1. Henry Fierro, Poolville 15:57.68
2. Abraham Morales, Brack. Brackett 16:11.06
3. Mathew Moralez, Premont 16:21.89
4. Antonio Martinez, Louise 16:29.20
5. Bailey Campbell, Holland 16:32.81
6. Paul Snow, Port Aransas 16:37.46
7. Caleb Lengefeld, Hamilton 16:44.34
8. Jonathan Hatley, North Hopkins 16:45.54
9. Tyler Seeley, New Deal 16:49.03
10. Kyler Spaeth, Port Aransas 16:51.56
2. Allison Hedrick, Lindsay 12:22.48
3. Allison Vaughn, Christoval 12:34.42
4. Brenna Butler, Gruver 12:45.71
5. Kadey Urbantke, Farwell 12:46.96
6. Brighton Adams, San Saba 12:49.30
7. Alexa Rodriguez, Sundown 12:53.75
8. Katelyn Hernandez, Sunray 12:57.17
9. Daisy Otwell, De Leon 12:59.41
10. Taylor Limbaugh, Schulenburg 13:00.69
2. Isaac Alonzo, Lubbock 14:44.21
3. David Mora, Lub. Monterey 14:56.98
4. Foster Wilfong, Boerne Champion 14:58.89
5. Jack Woods, Cedar Park 15:05.33
6. Blake Barnes, Pros. Rock Hill 15:07.70
7. Philip Metcalf, Austin LASA 15:08.95
8. Natnael Enright, Frisco Wakeland 15:09.14
9. Isaac McGill, Amarillo 15:10.09
10. Jackson Chichon, Mans. Summit 15:10.85
1. Isabel Conde De Frankenberg, Cedar Park 17:10.65
2. Cameron Fawcett, Highland Park 17:29.01
3. Anastacia Gonzales, Boerne Champion 17:32.42
4. Mckenzie Bailey, Georgetown 17:32.66
5. Colleen Stegmann, Frisco Reedy 17:38.65
6. Veronica Ambrosionek, Frisco Lone Star 17:39.31
7. Allie Love, Coll. Heritage 17:52.25
8. Kailey Littlefield, Lovejoy 17:52.78
9. Kirstin Towle, Prosper Rock Hill 17:54.49
10. Kate Williams, Boerne Champion 17:54.71
2. Marco Rey, Presidio 15:51.78
4. Cooper Bryant, Keene 15:55.80
5. Emilio Rios, Presidio 16:04.92
6. Angel Torres, Tornillo 16:06.03
7. Crawford Kiser, Ama. River Road 16:06.14
8. Osvaldo Melchor, Whitesboro 16:06.21
9. Eddie Dominguez, McGregor 16:10.41
10. Hayden Moussa, Ponder 16:11.57
1. Yierra Flemings, Cameron Yoe 11:48.49
2. Finley Hunting, SA Cole 11:52.97
3. Braylen Lusby, Spearman 12:01.49
4. Hannah Spears, Holliday 12:07.65
5. Addison Sykora, Lorena 12:14.86
6. Makayla Pavelka, West 12:18.01
7. Sydney Hornbuckle, Redwater 12:18.81
8. Yvonne Legaretta, Friona 12:19.90
9. Tehya Lang, Callisburg 12:20.25
10. Alyssa Wray, Lago Vista 12:20.84
2. Garrett Tarver, Saltillo 15:40.80
3. Brandon Passmann, Guthrie 15:46.64
4. Kobe Robertson, Miller Grove 15:49.61
5. Jorden Zarate, Spur 16:14.11
6. Tayte Cormier, Mertz. Irion Cty 16:18.88
7. Lance Verner Davis, Miller Grove 16:24.34
8. Pato Ponce, Paint Rock 16:33.92
9. Gunner Tarver, Saltillo 16:37.31
10. Tanner Hensley, Miller Grove 16:40.72
1. Taytum Goodman, Earth Springlake 11:18.29
2. Emma Kleman, Nazareth 12:15.55
3. Bailey Neal, Sulphur Bluff 12:18.93
4. Jorja Bessonett, Miller Grove 12:20.28
5. Daylee Chisum, Jayton 12:37.56
6. Alaira Serrano, Miller Grove 12:53.72
7. Jolee Fox, Miller Grove 12:54.00
8. Carlie Wilison, Munday 12:54.38
9. Sydney Partin, Priddy 12:56.75
10. Lindsey Mauppin, Dodd City 12:59.55