Southlake will be deep for sure on both sides (boys and girls). On the girls side, it is so hard to beat a top 3 like the Humphries sisters and Fox. If the big FM 3 all run well then Walsh, Schwedler, and another will have to finish in the top 10-12 at State to give their depth a chance to beat the FM 5th runner. I think Smits is going to continue to progress like Schwedler has each year. The Freshman Vezga (800/1600 girl) is getting better each week. I think she could take a huge step forward next year, but does her track speed translate to grass. Martin ran well at NXR and earned a spot at NXN when Walsh went down. The issue is going to be matching or mitigating the damage done by the punch up front from FM and then beating their 4-5. It should be a great race again if everyone is healthy. Neither team can lose a top 2-3 runner. My money right now is on FM.
On the boys side, Jude Alvarez and Caden Leonard are going to run well if healthy. Both are heavy top 10 candidates at state if they are healthy. Their next fastest returner is Bullard. As a sophomore he was the 2nd scorer for them at 4 meets last year including Regionals and NXR. He scored in their top 5 at all but 1 meet all last season. However, he has to be considered a wildcard because he disappears every year after XC to Swimming and then does his main sport (triathlon) in the summer. It looks like he jumped in a 1600 and broke 4:30 last week and then disappeared again and didn’t do Districts. He could honestly be anywhere from top 10 at state to not making the team depending on what shape he shows up in next August. He showed up last August ready to roll, but will he again?
I think Troutman is going to be better next season. He just keeps progressing each season. He wasn’t top 5 for SLC at state last year, but he would have been in the top 5 on any other team at the meet (that’s a crazy statistic). SLC was just so deep. His track times are really impressive. He has the track times to be a top 15-20 guy in Round Rock.
Leonard, Alvarez, Bullard and Troutman give you 4 dudes that have proven they can do it at a Championship level. Who’s going to make the 5th-7th spots or be good enough to break into their top 4? They have lots of good 1600 guys, but they have to find 3 more guys that can battle through a 5k on the grass with hills, turns, and getting pushed around. They clearly have the horses (Severson, Van De Bergh, Golomb, Cords, etc….) but a few will have to step up and be consistent (and stay healthy)…..