As we head towards the State Meets in XC we see some more of the norm. York (IL) and The Woodlands (TX) are both aiming for yet another State Title.
The Woodlands (once known as Conroe McCullough) has been crushing teams dreams in TX for 28 years or so. They have quite a large enrollment (3800+) and a great Jr. High Program but the coaching of Dan Green speaks volumes. People enter the program there (as well as York with Joe Newton) expecting to contend for the State Title.
Since 1980 The Woodlands/McCullough has won 14 State Titles, 6 2nd place finishes and 2 3rd place finishes. That is 22 trips to the podium in 27 years. In 1984 they scored a record low 28 points in a race that my team (El Paso Eastwood) actually thought we had a chance at winning. We wound up 3rd but hey, there is no doubt we lost (badly!) to the best XC team in the country that year. The list of stars from the school over the years is endless. Kyle Wright, Jeff Moss, Stacy Sutter, Eric Henry, Shaun Barnes, Scott Cramer, Danny Green, Chris Emme, Brian Sullivan, Alex Neff and this year Reed Connor and Drew Butler should challenge Craig Lutz for the Texas Title.
Each year the week prior to the XC District meet,The Woodlands has it Red and Green Time Trial, under the lights at night. They run the 3200. If this years results are accurate then look out. Connor ran 8:54 and Butler 9:01. Wow! This school, by the way, has more sub 9:20 3200 runners than any other school in State History by a long shot. Henry and Sullivan both went 8:52.
I mentioned Craig Lutz earlier as the Lewisville Marcus Sophomore has established himself as the favorite for the TX 5-A Title. After a very impressive Frosh season, he has gone undefeated turning back many of the state's best in the process. Don't count out CJ Brown (Southlake Carroll) quite yet but he has not had the season many expected.
In IL, York is looking tough as usual, as well as Naperville North, Geneva and defending National Champs, Neuqua Valley. Look for Kyle Gibson (NN), Danny Pawola (NV) and the York Duo of Steve Sulkin and Jordan Herbert to contend in Peoria for the State Title. Another early season fave, Freshman Record Setter Lukas Verzbicas (yes Freshman!) is out for the season with a pinched sciatic nerve.
The future is looking bright right now on the National level with Lutz (Soph) and Verzbicas (Frosh) and Futsum Zeinasellassie (Frosh, In) all with potential to finish high at the National Level this year. Another challenger may be Jakub Zivec. Jakub has been running amazing times in the JV races in MN. In these cases he is running faster than the varsity times and coming close to course records. He has track PRs of 3:57.07 for the 1500 meters and an 8:19.35 for 3000m so he is for real. Jakub is a Czech exchange student who attends his MN high school without being part of a recognized international exchange program. Because of this he is not allowed to compete at the varsity level.
The future is also looking bright on the NCAA level with the prized Frosh Chris Derrick (Stanford), German Fernandez and Colby Lowe (Oklahoma State), Luke Puskedra (Oregon) all looking like potential All-Americans this year. We shall see. Terre Haute, IN is the place to be Nov 24Th.