George Ranch XC wins 10th district title, two runners advance to State Meet


When it comes to winning District Championships, George Ranch girls cross country is one of the best in the business.

The school, which has been open for just 11 years, just won its 10th district title a few weeks ago, with the past five years coming in Class 6A. For coach Alicia Dutch, getting to this point of consistency took laying the ground work many years ago.

"We made sure they were groomed through the years to be able to compete on this level," Dutch said. "They have had a tremendous trust in themselves and the leadership that has transitioned during the program. Since 5A and 6A girls programs in Texas are still growing in competition with the 5K compared to other states, coaching and learning how to program practices to fit the needs of the runners each year is a challenge that has taken on very well."

Dutch took over the George Ranch program in 2013.

Since that time, the 2020 district title marked the eighth-straight for the program and ninth-straight for the school. Having a run like that sets the "sets the high expectations" for all current and future runners who don the Longhorns' colors even in a year as unprecedented as 2020 has been.

"Our athletes are extremely grateful that UIL provided our cross country programs with an opportunity to live up to accomplishing this feat again," Dutch said. "Coming into new district this year also kept us on our toes since meets were limited with teams, we were unable to see all of our competition prior to district. It had our athletes doing their homework of rankings and seeking times of the other schools we were going to eventually compete against.

"They are trained to know their competition and to also BE the competition."

So where does it all start for George Ranch girls cross country - the middle school.

Even coming off 2019, which saw 11 seniors graduate from the cross country program, the George Ranch cross country program still had solid numbers, mainly because athletes from other sports also run with the team.

"Although, we are labeled as an individual sport, prior to pre-COVID restrictions, we have the big advantages of running the entire team at meets and do not have to make cuts compared to other sports," Dutch said. "We have the support of our campus and district athletic administration that values how we run our programs at our campuses which keeps athletes coming from various sports. This year alone we had eight soccer athletes that came out to be a part of the cross country program. Mutli and Dual-Sport athletes seem to enjoy using this sport to stay on shape as well."

At the district meet, freshman Haley Moffett impressed Dutch with a second place finish and was the top runner for the team. Moffett also plays soccer

"Knowing what she is capable of without having her full time is rewarding because as a coach you get to see the raw gift and talent one has," Dutch said of Moffett.

Heading into the Regional Championships, George Ranch was seeking to send some runners to Round Rock.

At the Region III-6A Championships on November 10, George Ranch took sixth place overall out of 16 teams and had two of the top 14 finishers. With their finishes Haley Harkrider and Madison Haldiman punched their ticket to the state meet, set to be ran tomorrow in Round Rock.

"[Haley Harkrider] has been the biggest performer this year as she has taken home the individual 1st place title four times this season," Dutch said after the district championships. "She has been a huge asset to the program and has been the lead of the team throughout the season ... Haldiman always brings the heat and finishes in the top three spots for our Longhorns"

Harkrider and Haldiman will represent George Ranch in the morning at the UIL 6A State Cross Country Championships.