Michael Abeyta is no stranger to big meets.
From winning national championships at the USATF level to raising his arms in victory at the UIL Track & Field State Meet, the Hanks junior has never shied away from a challenge.
After taking off the first two high school meets of the season, Abeyta is scheduled to compete at Saturday’s Rudolfo “Rudy” Alvarez Invitational at Del Valle High School.
The varsity boys race begins at 8:30 a.m. followed by the girl’s race.
“Summer workouts went really well,” he said. “We’ve been working on improving my strength. I’m lifting and trying to get stronger, a lot of core work.”
Abeyta is looking to win gold at this year’s UIL Cross Country State Championships Nov. 3 at Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock.
In the Fall, as a sophomore, Abeyta won silver at state and finished sixth, earning All-State honors when he was freshman.
He followed up that state silver medal in the fall with a stellar spring track and field season became the first El Paso athlete to earn a medal in three events at the Class 5A UIL Stat Track and Field Championship.
He won gold in the 800 meters (1:53.38) and silver in both the 1,600 meters (4:16.53) and the 3,200 meters (9:15.40). As a freshman, Abeyta earned a gold in the 1,600 meters at the State Meet.
But he is focused on bigger prizes.
“I want to get to state again, but this time around I want to win it,” he said. “But my main goal is to go to Nike Cross South and hopefully place in the top five and move on to the Nike Cross Nationals, that’s where I want to make my mark.”
Nike Cross Nationals (NXN), which takes place in Portland, Oregon, is considered to be the ultimate cross country experience. Individuals and club teams from eight regional championships compete to be crowned national champion.
The 15th annual Nike Cross Nationals will be Dec. 1.
Along with the two teams from each region that make it to NXN, Nike will also take the next five individuals from each region to compete in the same race, just without a team.
Abeyta hopes to be one of those runners.
The NXN South (Nike South) race will be Nov. 17 at Bear Branch Park in The Woodlands. Teams and individuals from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Texas will compete.
But first, there is work to be done starting Saturday morning.
The Rudolfo “Rudy” Alvarez Invitational boys elite division is a stacked affair with city No. 1 Eastwood, No. 6 Franklin, No. 8 Cathedral and No. 9 Hanks.
Top runners include: Abeyta, Roger Rivera, Hanks; Brandon Seagreaves, Cathedral; Elias Perez, Eastwood; Sergio Leon Cuartas, Eastwood; Ofir Ortega, Tornillo and Hector Rivera, Bel Air.
On the girl’s side, No. 1 Franklin, No. 2 Eastwood, No. 7 Horizon, No. 8 Chapin and No. 9 Clint are scheduled to compete.
Top runners include: Eva Jess and Amalia Dorion, Franklin; Lauren Walls and Eileen McLain, Eastwood; Skylar Goodman, Chapin and Britney Martinez, Loretto.
The 2-mile Dale Reinhardt Open at Socorro’s Student Activities Complex begins at 8 a.m. and features Socorro, Coronado and San Elizario.
There are two out-of-town meets – the Marcus Invitational in Flower Mound and the Lobo Invitational in Albuquerque. Montwood will try its luck in Flower Mound while Eastlake and Americas go up North to Albuquerque.
At Chaparral High School, the Gadsden Invitational will take place at 9 a.m. The field includes Burges, Mt. View and Canutillo.