The Melissa cross country teams hosted the third annual Melissa XC Invitational over the Oct. 12 weekend. The meet is one of the largest in North Texas, featuring 25 teams and nearly 1,000 runners.
"We’ve really grown this thing from the ground up," said Melissa coach Michael Bardgett. "I guarantee it’s one of the biggest meets in Texas that is completely run by volunteers. We literally could not do it without the help and support of the Melissa community. A special thanks should also go to the people of Country Ridge for allowing us to host the meet in their park."
This year’s race also featured a little kid fun run hosted by Melissa’s own Happy Feet Runners.
The racing got started with the varsity girls, which featured such area giants as Allen, Prosper, McKinney North and Irving Nimitz. The Prosper Eagles, who came in as the No. 7-ranked Class 4A team, narrowly edged out the Melissa Lady Cardinals (3A , No. 4) for first place.
Ashley New paced the Lady Cards in her first full race of the year, winning the race and setting a new cross country personal best in the process.
"Ashley looked great out there today," Bardgett said. "She has battled some injuries recently, but she had such a great base from her work in the summer and early in the season that she was able to pick up without missing a beat. She has just kept her head down and focused on getting back to help her team. She’s definitely coming around at the right time."
Filling out the squad were top 10 finishers Kambri Gabel (6) and Jackii Thomas (9), along with top 50 finishers Sophie Bennett (15), Kailey Burton (34), Megan Brown (43) and Ambriana Ricks.
The team set a school record with an average time of 12:36, blasting the old record by more than 20 seconds.
On the boys side, the team was short of the five runners needed to fill out a squad, but Trace Greer still managed a top five finish with a new personal best time on the course.
"Trace competed well against some stiff competition," Bardgett said. "Evan Mcquirk (Van Alstyne) who won the boys race, is probably one of the top 20 runners in Texas, and that Prosper team has a chance to make it to state, as well. He was right in there with the big dogs right until the end, proving that he could be a contributor on any team in Texas."
Kathan Price, John Slavin, and Jack Clemans rounded out the boys squad. Slavin and Clemans also set personal records on the course.
In the middle school races, the Melissa girls team finished fifth, despite missing several key runners, and the boys finished second. Erin Eichel finished in the top 10 for the girls, while Dain Miller and Chris Jones did the same for the boys.
"It was a great day for Melissa runners," Bardgett said. "The meet has really grown and the higher competition level was evident today. I’d say it was a great test for everyone as we head into district next week."
Melissa will host the District 12-3A Cross Country Championships on the same course on Tuesday. The high school races will start at 9 a.m., while the middle school races will begin at 4:15 p.m.