Kingwood High School girls ran in a sunny UIL Texas State 6A Cross Country Championship meet Saturday, Nov. 9 in Round Rock. The Mustangs were a part of a 16-team field at Old Settler’s Park that included the top 6A teams and individuals in the state.
When the top seven Lady ‘Stangs stepped to the line with the other 142 runners on the biggest stage in pursuit of the ultimate prize, Kingwood once again delivered. With the unassuming grit and consistency that characterized their season, KHS ran a focused race to take second place in the state of Texas. The ‘Stangs scored 92 points with a 48-second split from 1-5 and an average time of 18:23. The Mustangs were runners up to a strong Southlake Carroll team who took the state title with 45 points and Prosper followed in 3rd with 105 points.
Freshman Carly Arhens was the top finisher for Kingwood, crossing the line in eighth place overall with a time of 17:54.72, followed by senior Rachel James in 19th (18:20.70) and sophomore Carson Parker in 23rd (18:22.66). Rounding out KHS scoring were freshman Rebecca Rhodes in 36th place (18:34.58) and senior Daniela Wisniewski in 49th (18:43.06). Teammates freshman Skye Hoffman (69th, 18:59.52) and freshman Jenna Carter (81st, 19:09.10) helped secure the team’s spot. Prosper sophomore Aubrey O’ Connell claimed the state title clocking 17:05.95 with El Paso Franklin junior Eva Jess in second (17:12.18) and Atascocita junior Avery Clover in third (17:35.88).
Kingwood also had three All-State selections: Arhens, four-time state James, and Parker.
Reflecting on the successful season, Kingwood coaches felt the team was able to make good adjustments and add elements to training that enhanced performance. Head coach Jeremy Dye described the season as “magical” and “the best he has had as a coach.” Assistant coach Jessica Dorris said, “I wouldn’t change a thing about the season ... and the girls came ready to work.”
Wisniewski shared her thoughts on the season, “The best thing about this year of cross country was not even being ranked at the beginning of the year and getting second at the state meet; it was becoming friends with the greatest group of girls and defying all the odds through our hard work, friendship and belief. The amount of support from not just my teammates but my coaches, parents, friends and community made me feel like this meet was bigger than us seven girls and that was the most amazing way to finish off my senior cross country UIL season.”
On the boys side, Senior Nick Majerus represented Kingwood well as an individual in the state meet. Four-time state qualifier Majerus delivered an impressive, gutsy performance to finish 10th overall out of 147 runners with a time of 15:07.80. His time earned an All-State selection and broke the KHS record for a 5,000-meter race set back in 1996. La Porte’s senior Ryan Schoppe (14:14.02) took the individual title, Austin Vandegrift’s senior Anthony Monte (14:39.59) took second, and The Woodland’s senior Spencer Cardinal (14:45.01) took third. Team class 6A winners were Southlake Carroll in first, The Woodlands in second, and Flower Mound in third.
The KHS girls team and Majerus will be competing in the elite Nike Cross Regionals South Saturday, Nov. 23 at Bear Branch Park in The Woodlands with the hopes of qualifying for the Nike Nationals Dec. 7 in Portland, Ore.