Katy schools will send a large group of teams and individual runners to the state meet after a successful Monday in Huntsville at the Region III, Class 6A cross country meet.

Cinco Ranch sophomore Heidi Nielsen won her second straight regional championship with a time of 18:17.1, a full 21 seconds ahead of second place Avery Clover from Atascocita.

Sophie Atkinson from Cinco Ranch finished third with an 18:42.1.

Clover and Nielsen stayed together for much of the race before Nielsen picked up her pace and took a sizable lead.

“I don’t really remember (breaking away),” Nielsen said. “I just worried about my own race.”

Nielsen and Atkinson compete against each other in practice and were happy to share the podium at regionals.

“It was really fun to have her there pushing me,” Nielsen said. “We push each other in practice.”

Kate Barr Ross Park in Hunstville featured a hilly terrain and wooded area with mud.

“The hills aren’t so bad,” Nielsen said. “The ground is just sort of uneven. That makes it tough to go faster.”

Nielsen finished fourth at the state meet in 2017 and hopes to improve on that finish on Nov. 3 in Round Rock.

Molly Humes from Seven Lakes will join the Cinco Ranch duo at state after her fourth-place time of 18:57.6.

Tompkins’ girls team finished second with 101 points, and Katy finished fourth with 139 points to advance both teams to the state meet. Stratford won with a score of 81.

Lauren Titus was the top finisher for Tompkins finishing 13th, Hayden Gold was 16th, Grace Kohout finished 23rd, Makinlee Poole took 28th, Marissa Marinchak was 33rd, Laura Oregron finished 34th and Katie Wiley was 51st.

Katy’s top finisher was Audrey Witham in 11th. Ariyanna Young finished 35th, Carolina Ortiz was 36th, Hannah Blake was 37th and Kennedy McEntyre finished 38th.

In the boys race, Cole Lindhorst from Tompkins finished third with a 15:57.5. Ryan Schoppe from La Porte won with a 15:29.1 and Kingwood’s Carter Storm finished second with a 15:51.9.

Lindhorst said he’s been sick for the past few days leading up to the race and it affected his performance.

“I was just coming out and helping my team, that was my goal today,” Lindhorst said. “I definitely felt like my throat was clogged up. It was hard to breathe at some points. Those guys ran a great race still. We did what we needed to do.”

Lindhorst was in a pack of eight runners at the one-mile mark when the top three began to separate from the pack.

“We just took off,” Lindhorst said. “It thinned out to four or five. Then down to us three.”

The course was messy due to rain overnight, and Lindhorst said it impacted the race.

“The mud was definitely a factor,” Lindhorst said. “It kind of throws you off your rhythm. You’re slipping and sliding. Kids are flicking mud up in your face. You can’t really do anything about that, it’s going to be muddy. The course is nice and wide open. When it’s dry, it’s nice.”

Lindhorst said he’ll do one more week of hard training before tapering off as the meet nears to stay fresh.

“I’m ready for state, I think,” Lindhorst said. “It’s going to be a big one.”

Tompkins won the boys race with 63 points, and Seven Lakes will join them at the state meet after a third-place finish with 106 points.

Justin Duffy finished seventh for Tompkins, Gavin Sack was 12th, Bryce Wiley was 19th and Adam Smith was 23rd.

Seven Lakes’ state-qualifying team was led by Carson Slater in 14th, Spencer Seale finished 16th, Zach Skillman was 25th, Josh Kuriakose was 27th and Corbin Brescher took 29th.