Love­joy cross county posts clean sweep

Cross coun­try team sweeps top six spots for per­fect score of 15

The Dallas Morning News - - Sports Day - By GREG RID­DLE Staff Writer grid­dle@dal­las­ Twit­ter: @Dm­n­gre­grid­dle

Love­joy be­gan its bid for a third straight Class 5A boys cross coun­try ti­tle by grab­bing the top six spots at the 10-5A meet.

Love­joy took the first step to­ward a piece of his­tory Tues­day.

Since 1984, the first year that the UIL had more than three clas­si­fi­ca­tions for cross coun­try, no boys team in the se­cond-largest clas­si­fi­ca­tion has won more than two con­sec­u­tive team state ti­tles. Love­joy has a chance to win its third straight Class 5A cham­pi­onship this year.

“If we could get a third one, that would be very spe­cial,” coach Greg Chris­tensen said. “This year’s team could prob­a­bly beat the pre­vi­ous years’ teams. They’re run­ning re­ally well.”

Even though tor­ren­tial rain started dur­ing the boys race Tues­day, Love­joy had the first six fin­ish­ers and posted a per­fect score of 15 to win the District 10-5A ti­tle and qual­ify for re­gion­als. It was the 12th con­sec­u­tive district cham­pi­onship for the Love­joy boys — who have never lost a district meet — but Chris­tensen said it was the first time the var­sity team had a per­fect score at district.

“They’re a fun group to coach,” Chris­tensen said. “They put their heart and every­thing they’ve got into it. It’s a pretty tal­ented team this year, and much deeper than we’ve been in pre­vi­ous years.”

Love­joy ju­nior Will Muir­head, who fin­ished 17th at state last year, won the district ti­tle by run­ning five kilo­me­ters (3.1 miles) in 17 min­utes, 14.31 sec­onds at My­ers Park in Mck­in­ney. Love­joy ju­nior Brady La­boret, the 13th-place fin­isher at state a year ago, took se­cond in 17:23.41.

Next up for Love­joy will be the 5A Re­gion II meet Oct. 22 at Lynn Creek Park in Grand Prairie. Love­joy’s top com­pe­ti­tion at the state meet Nov. 3 in Round Rock could come from El Paso East­wood, which dropped down to 5A af­ter fin­ish­ing third at state in 6A last year, but 2017 5A state run­nerup Grapevine and Cedar Park (third in 5A at state) also stand in the way.

Love­joy was close to al­ready hav­ing won three straight state ti­tles, as it fin­ished se­cond in 2015 — five points be­hind Frisco Wake­land. That year, Wake­land ended Hous­ton Strat­ford’s bid for a three-peat. And in 2013, Hous­ton Strat­ford ended Bo­erne Cham­pion’s at­tempt to three-peat.

Love­joy has also been the team that has top­pled a dy­nasty. It won the 3A boys team state ti­tle in 2010, end­ing Ar­gyle’s run of three con­sec­u­tive cham­pi­onships in the UIL’S third-largest clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

District meet to watch: The Keller girls are at­tempt­ing to win their third straight 6A team state cham­pi­onship in cross coun­try, and they will start post­sea­son com­pe­ti­tion by run­ning in the District 5-6A meet Thurs­day morn­ing at Bob Jones Park in South­lake. Keller shares a district with South­lake Car­roll, one of the most suc­cess­ful girls pro­grams in UIL his­tory.

Car­roll’s girls have won seven team state ti­tles, in­clud­ing a pair of three-peats — 2005-07 and 2011-13. Car­roll’s girls team has placed among the top four at the state meet for the last 15 years, in­clud­ing a third-place fin­ish last year.

The 5-6A meet will also fea­ture two of the fastest girls in Texas.

Den­ton Guyer sopho­more Brynn Brown has the state’s se­cond-fastest time at 16:41.13, ac­cord­ing to Dye­, and Keller se­nior Is­abel Van Camp ranks 10th with a time of 17:34.53. Brown has won three of her five races this sea­son, and Van Camp has won three of her four meets.

Plenty of big matches left in 5-6A, 6-6A: Six of the 10 teams in Sports­day’s Class 6A area vol­ley­ball rank­ings re­side in District 5-6A or 6-6A. That means there will be some ex­tra­or­di­nary first-round play­off matchups since those two dis­tricts are matched against each other in the UIL bracket.

District 5-6A leader Tro­phy Club By­ron Nel­son, ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 4 in USA To­day’s na­tional rank­ings, could po­ten­tially fin­ish the reg­u­lar

sea­son 40-1 and have to open the play­offs against He­bron — win­ner of the last three Class 6A state cham­pi­onships. He­bron is tied with Flower Mound Mar­cus for third place in 6-6A, and they face off at 6:30 p.m. Fri­day at He­bron, with Mar­cus look­ing to sweep their sea­son se­ries.

That isn’t the only piv­otal match in the last two weeks of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

Keller (32-8, 8-2), ranked No. 5 in the area, sits in se­cond place in 5-6A, two matches be­hind top-ranked By­ron Nel­son and one match ahead of No. 10 Den­ton Guyer and No. 7 South­lake Car­roll. Keller’s last three district matches are against those three teams, in­clud­ing road matches at By­ron Nel­son on Oct. 16 and at South­lake Car­roll on Oct. 23.

Car­roll (33-8, 7-3) has to go on the road Fri­day for a 6:30 p.m. match at By­ron Nel­son (36-1, 10-0), which beat Car­roll in the third round of the play­offs last year and then again in their first district meeting this sea­son. Car­roll, which has a record of 114-23 over the last three years, could end up with a first-round matchup against Coppell (No. 4 in the area), Flower Mound (No. 9 in the area), He­bron or Mar­cus.

The most im­por­tant match of the 6-6A sched­ule will take place Oct. 16 when Flower Mound plays at Coppell. Those teams are tied for first at 9-1 af­ter He­bron swept Coppell in three sets Fri­day.

Love­joy’s Will Muir­head won the District 10-5A cross coun­try meet on Oct. 9 at My­ers Park in Mck­in­ney.

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