In their first showdown of the fall, defending Class 3A champion Lovejoy narrowly edged the Decatur Lady Eagles at the Marcus I Invitational cross country meet Saturday at Denton’s North Lakes Park.
Lovejoy finished eighth in the 5A race with 247 points. Decatur was ninth with 254 points.
Southlake Carroll won the event with 34 points, putting all five of its top runners in the top 10.
Highland Park’s Natalie Rathjen won the race, completing the two-mile course in 11:03.86.
Lovejoy’s Katie Ruhala, who won the Class 3A individual title last year, finished fifth in 11:18. Her top-five finish provided just enough cushion for Lovejoy to hold off a hard-charging, tight Decatur group.
Decatur’s top five runners all finished in the top 72. Decatur’s fifth runner Bobbi Clemmer crossed the finish line in 12:35 for 72nd, 16 spots ahead of Lovejoy’s fifth runner.
Decatur was led by freshman Nicole Neighbors, who finished in 11:52 in her first official race, taking 26th.
Her sister, Natalie, took 39th in 12:01. Zuleima Palomo ran 12:11 for 51st. Morgan Haney turned in a 12:31 for 66th.
Bianca Morrison ran 12:47 for 90th, Nancy Torres 12:49 for 93rd.