The UIL cross country season is officially underway for boys and girls teams across the Texas Panhandle.
The way things are shaping up for area runners this season, 2019 could be as impactful as 2018 was.
The Canyon Lady Eagles are hopeful that this season will be as successful as last year was. Head coach Ray Baca’s team dominated through all of last year on their way to a UIL Class 4A state championship.
Canyon teammates Breanna Stuart, left, and Gabi Davis return for the defending UIL Class 4A girls cross country champions. [Kale Steed/ Press Pass Sports]
“I tell this years team that state title happened last year,” said Baca, whose Canyon girls team also won the UIL Class 4A state track and field title. “This team needs to find its own identity. Things are going to be different. I want this team to go out and run like they still have so much to prove.”
It helps that Baca returns two of his top runners from last years squad.
Sophomore Breanna Stuart is back after leading the Lady Eagles with a second place individual performance at the 2018 state meet.
“I’ve definitely been working hard to get back to where I was,” said Stuart, who also claimed a gold medals in the 3200 and 1600 meter run at the state track meet last May. “I’ve been pushing myself to get better than I was, so I’m really looking forward to improving.”
Stuart isn’t alone. She’ll be pushed in practice daily and in meets by teammate and the. highly-touted junior, Gabi Davis.
“I feel there is nothing given to you,” said Davis, who won the 800 meter run at the state track meet last May. “It doesn’t matter if you were one of the top runners last year. You still have to work hard to earn that spot. We’re all working toward that goal on this team.”
Boys cross country runners to watch
DJ Guerrero, Kaden Navarrete, Tascosa, juniors.
Both Guerrero and Navarette stepped up as sophomores for the Rebels last season advancing to the Region I-6A meet.
Branch Cox, Amarillo High, Sr.
Cox won the District 3-5A cross country meet last year, qualifying for the Region I-5A meet.
Girls cross country runners to watch
Cammie Mitchell, Amarillo High, Sr.
The decorated senior is the heart and soul of a talented Lady Sandies team. Mitchell is a two-time state qualifier, who placed 15th at the UIL Class 5A state meet last year.
Ariyah Gomez, Randall, So.
Gomez looks to be the next standout in a long list of gifted runners at Randall. The sophomore qualified for regional as a freshman last year.
Kyla Kane, Wellington, So.
As a freshman last season, Kane turned heads when she won the UIL Class 2A state championship. Kane hopes for another big year this season for herself and the Lady Skyrockets.