Isabel Van Camp could be one of the top girls runners at the Southlake Invitational this weekend. Courtesy
Isabel Van Camp could be one of the top girls runners at the Southlake Invitational this weekend. Courtesy

High School Sports

The Southlake Invitational cross country meet is a big deal. Here’s how big

By John English

Special to the Star-Telegram

September 07, 2017 03:35 PM

The Southlake Invititational is a huge cross country meet.

Just how big is it?

Carroll coach Justin Leonard said that his parents and other volunteers started preparing for the Sept. 9 meet in May.

“This is our 14th year of hosting this meet,” Leonard said. “It has grown over the years and has been around 80 schools for a number of years. We invite everyone from the state of Texas to the meet, and we also will send out emails to other states as well. This year, we will have teams from California, Oklahoma and Louisana.”

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Among this year’s participants will be the Keller and Carroll girls, who finished first and second respectively at state last season in the 6A division, as well as the Carroll boys and Trophy Club Nelson boys, who finished second and fourth respectively.

The 5A division will include the Grapevine girls, who finished seventh at state, and the Grapevine boys, who were third at the state meet in 2016.

The winner of this meet in all divisions is in really good company.

Keller girls cross country coach Brian Zaring on the Southlake Invitational

Grapevine coach Rick Miller said he accepts the invitation to the meet because it provides his runners an opportunity to face other top runners in the state.

“This will be our sixth consecutive year at the Southlake Carroll Invitational,” Miller said. “We like to go where the best competition is, and this meet always attracts top quality teams and athletes.”

Justin Northwest has competed in the Southlake meet in the past, but missed last season.

Texans coach Joshua Allen said the meet is a good measuring stick for the rest of the season for his team.

“We want our kids to compete with the best so they can see how much they’ve improved and how far we have still to go,” Allen said. “It hopefully prepares them for the 5A postseason runs as each round from district to regionals and state get tougher. If they are fortunate enough to make it to Round Rock in November, they will know how they measure up with the best.”

This will be Nelson’s seventh year to compete at the Southlake Invitational, and coach Jason Spoor said that one of the most helpful things for his team is that the course is the same for the district meet later this fall.

Spoor said while he does believe this is one of the best competitions in the state, he does not necessarily believe that, for Nelson, it is indicative of how things will unfold for the Bobcats programs.

“I don’t think the results we get from this meet determine how well the rest of the season will turn out,” Spoor said. “I believe our boys finished fifth last season in this meet but were able to finish fourth in dtate by season’s end. I do believe this meet shows where we are at and where we need to get to. This is one of the best meets to go to in order to see some of the best runners in the state.”

For coach Brian Zaring of the defending state girls champion Keller High School, the Southlake Invitational is just what his team needs to continue to shake off the rust coming out of the off season.

“It’s always been a competitive meet,” Zaring said. “And being right after Marcus I, it gives us another opportunity to run against some of the top programs in the state. The winner of this meet in all divisions is in really good company.”