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South Region
Regional meet: November 22, 2008 at The Woodlands TX

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Two teams and five individuals will qualify for NXN national finals December 6, 2008 at Portland OR. 

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Box Assignments

Individuals to Watch
Prior Years
Meets own site

Danny Green -
 Juris Green
The Woodlands TX sweeps boys and girls races
Cedar Park TX boys, Cinco Ranch TX girls claim 2nds
Reed Connor TX 14:57, Chelsey Sveinsson TX 17:11

Lance Phegley photo galleries - Boys Championship - Girls Championship
LEAD STORY: The Woodlands' Gift-Givers Keep on Giving by SteveU
Boys Championship - Girls Championship

Reed Connor is all alone late in the race enroute to victory; Chelsey Sveinsson had Sarah Andrews
for company until the end.  Photos Lance Phegley, raceshots.net/insidetexasrunning.com

Top Highlights
  • The Woodlands sr Reed Connor pulled away mid-race to win in a course record 14:57, 11 seconds up on resurgeant C.J. Brown.
  • SO#1 The Woodlands XC TX used front-running and depth, winning at almost every spot, to triumph with 71 points.  SO#3 Cedar Park CC TX put two in the top 12 and five in the top 30 for 2nd with 98.
  • Greenhill TX soph Chelsey Sveinsson broke away from The Woodlands XC jr Sarah Andrews in the final kilometer to win, 17:11-17:17.
  • With two scoring top-7 and solid depth, The Woodlands XC TX girls scored 70 and won by 36, with Cinco Ranch TX nipping K-Park TX for 2nd, 106-108.

Qualifiers - for Nike Cross National finals at Portland OR December 6
(3rd and 4th place teams are eligible for selection as a national at large team)
(Individual qualifiers are the top 5 finishers not on a qualifying team.)
Boys Team
1. The Woodlands XC TX 71
2. Cedar Park CC TX 98

3. RC Boerne TX 106
4. Panther TC TX 135
Girls Team
1. The Woodlands XC TX 70
2. Cinco Ranch RC TX 106

3. K-Park XC TX 108
4. Vista Ridge RC TX 111
Boys Individual
(Reed Connor 14:57)
1. Chris Brown TX 15:08
2. Craig Lutz TX 15:13
3. Zach Ornelas TX 15:17
4. Alex De La Garza TX 15:24
5. Chase Rathke TX 15:24

 Girls Individual
1. Chelsey Sveinsson TX 17:11
(Sarah Andrews TX 17:17)
2. Aly Nielson TX 17:32
3. Amanda Russell TX 17:38
4. Ashley Isham TX 17:56
5. Bailey Belvis TX 18:02

The Woodlands: Gift-givers that keep on giving

Story by SteveU

Last weekend, The Woodlands TX cross-country teams both gave their coaches gifts in the form of Texas 5A state titles – one to a departing and much-beloved legend, the other to a mentor looking to guide his charges to their first championship in 19 years.  It was an emotional weekend for all … but the season wasn’t over yet.

So Saturday, the giving continued.

Running now as clubs, The Woodlands XC picked up another sweep at the NXN South Championships, on their home course at the Bear Branch Sports Fields.  Though there were a few out-of-state teams, and some smaller-class Texas powerhouses in the mix, the meet was basically a rerun of the Lone Star State’s 5A state meet from the week before – with a few key twists here and there.

The US#8/SO#1 Woodlands XC boys have been honoring retiring Coach Danny Green all year, despite his imploring them to run and win for themselves.  Of course, the wise mentor’s reasons for such guidance were more than just humbly taking himself out of the spotlight; he knew it might be hard to bounce back from state to this week.  He was right – but still needn’t have worried. 

Led by dominating individual champ senior Reed Connor, who rolled through mile splits of 4:36 and 9:26 en route to a winning 14:57, Coach Green’s harriers were both strong at the top and deep at the bottom (5 in top 33), piling up 71 points. 

“Last weekend was a drain emotionally,” said senior Drew Butler, who scored 7th in 15:26 as the team’s #2.  “Coach said for it not to be about him, but we love the guy.  We wouldn’t be here without him.”

Behind The Woodlands in the team battle, though, there was definitely a shakeup.  SO#2 Seven Lakes XC, a strong 2nd in the 5A race last weekend, and solid and deep all year, did not run co-#1 James Welin due to injury.  After the 1-2 punch of a super Chase Rathke (5th) and Chris Jessett (14th), they had no depth to battle for an NXN bid and finished 7th.

That left the 5A 3rd-place team from last week, SO#3 Cedar Park CC, and 4A champ and SO#4 RC Boerne (Boerne Champion HS) to battle it out for 2nd.  With California transfer Parker Stinson having his best race of the season in 6th, Cedar Park scored 106, claiming a narrow 2-pt. margin on RC Boerne and earning the other Portland bid.

Individually, Connor’s victory was most impressive, as he continued a stunning month-long transformation from TX star to one of the top 7 runners in the country.  His 14:57 was good for the second removal of a Colby Lowe course record in two weeks.  His win, though, wasn’t a surprise.  What happened behind him, though, was pretty interesting.

Southlake Carroll sr CJ Brown, expected by most to be the state’s best in 2008, has struggled all fall to beat the top dogs, but Saturday, he ran his finest race of the year – a 15:08 to beat rivals Craig Lutz and Zach Ornelas for the first time.  Brown hammered through the mile, leading in 4:34, but after he surrendered his lead to Connor, he didn’t fall apart. 

Lutz, the Marcus XC super soph who was unbeaten before taking 3rd at 5A state last weekend behind Connor and Ornelas, ditched last week’s strategy of going with the leaders and instead worked his way up, finally settling for 3rd in 15:13.  Ornelas, the Vista Ridge sr battling a cold all week, made a mid-race bid, but wound up hanging on for 4th in 15:17.

So Brown, Lutz, and Ornelas were the first three individual qualifiers for Portland.  Several seconds later, a great fight for the final two spots saw Mercedes sr Alex De La Garza (15:24) edge Rathke (also 15:24) and Stinson (15:25) for 5th.  Of course, De La Garza knew he had earned his Portland ticket, and as the qualifying teams were finally announced, Rathke learned he’d be the 5th individual to go and Stinson that he would be part of the #2 team.

The only championship The Woodlands didn’t claim was the individual girls title, but it wasn’t because previously unbeaten Sarah Andrews had a bad race.  Chelsey Sveinsson, whose Greenhill School is not part of the UIL fray, and Andrews were finally racing for the first time – and Sveinsson, with Cowboy Shootout and Chile Pepper wins to her credit, was unbeaten, too.  As expected, Sveinsson let the 5A champ set the pace, and the latter was unable to shake the middle-distance star, despite fast mile splits of 5:19 and 10:56. 

“I just wanted to go with the front pack, try and sit with the leader, then go with 800 or 1200 left,” said the winner.  And that’s just what she did, finishing in 17:11 to Andrews' 17:17.

Like the boys race, five of the top six finishers were individuals, with Andrews being the exception.  The other qualifying four spots were split between athletes representing Metroplex Striders and Vista Ridge RC.  The Striders’ Aly Nielson, 2nd in 5A behind Andrews last weekend while running for Colleyville Heritage, kept the lead duo in sight much of the race and took 3rd in 17:32.  She was followed by the Vista Ridge duo of Amanda Russell and Ashley Isham.  Russell ran with Nielson much of the way before fading slightly to 17:38 for 4th, while Isham gradually pulled away from the Striders’ Bailey Belvis.  Isham would be the fifth runner under 18:00 in 17:56, while Belvis – the 3A champ last weekend for Prosper HS – got the final qualifier in 6th at 18:02.

Team-wise, The Woodlands was able to channel their positive energy from the previous weekend into Saturday.  At the 5A state meet, they took the first title for Coach Noel Hansen and the school’s first since 1989, but instead of the experience being somewhat of an emotional drain, like it was for The Woodlands’ boys, it buoyed the girls for their effort.  Samantha Thompson scored 7th in 18:28, and the team’s 3-4-5 were within 11 seconds and all under 19:20.

“I’m proud of the way they handled everything,” said Coach Hansen.

The battle for second was a brutal one, with Cinco Ranch RC (106) edging K-Park XC (108), Vista Ridge RC (111) and Carroll XC (Southlake Carroll; 113).  Cinco’s top two of Alyse Goldsmith and Itzel Centina were off form from the previous week, but their next three came through strong to hold off the rest.

“We’re so excited,” said Coach Kristi Robbins.  “We were third at state last year, but came in here and didn’t run well, and the year before we thought we would make it – so this is great.”


Familiar Storylines: The Woodlands clubs look to sweep; Connor and Andrews favored, but Sveinsson, Ornelas, and Lutz hope to take away individual crowns - SteveU Preview

Recognize these guys?  CJ Brown, Craig Lutz, Reed Connor, Zach Ornelas know each other pretty well by now, but the stakes this time are team and individual berths in Portland.  It will be a Texas show, team-wise and individually.

TX 5A State Meet Photo by Bert Richardson

Winners Table - click for results, stories and photos
 Boys Championship
The Woodlands 71 (Cedar Park CC 98) - Reed Connor TX 14:57 (CJ Brown TX 15:08)
 Girls Championship
The Woodlands 70 (Cinco Ranch 106) - Chelsey Sveinsson TX 17:11 (Sarah Andrews TX 17:17)
 Boys Open
The Woodlands 26 (Marcus 86) - Julian Duarte TX 16:18 (Brad Folks 16:20)
 Girls Open
Katy Red 22 (Runni Kats 60)  - Courtney Haass 19:34 (Jasmine Caster 19:55)
 Boys Frosh-Soph
The Woodlands 15 (The Woodlands 'B' 59) - Yonas Tesfai 16:40 (Phil Schneider 16:44)
 Girls Frosh-Soph
Clear Lake FS TX 26 (Marcus FS TX 29) - Jordan Wiseman TX 20:05 (Chrissy Wassef TX 20:06)


9:00 am Boy's Open race and Freshman-Sophomore Combined (run together but scored separately)
9:30 am Girl's Open race and Freshman-Sophomore Combined (run together but scored separately)
10:00 am Boy's Championship race (qualifier)
10:30 am Girl's Championship race ( qualifier)

11:00 am Awards

Friday, November 21, 2008 3:00-7:30pm Bear Branch Park (the course)
Saturday, November 22, 2008 7:00 am Bear Branch Park (the course)

NXN index page