By his own admission, Andress senior Chauncey Wilkes has never taken cross country seriously.
He would put in the miles during his summer training to build up for the season but he never fully bought in to what it takes to compete at the regional level.
He would do simply just enough to get by.
But last year, the summer before his junior year, something clicked.
“I was doing other sports and didn’t put in the time I needed to be where I thought I could be in cross country,” he said. “I knew I could be in one of those front packs, it just took a long time for me to get there. It just goes to show you how much hard work cross country takes. It takes time and a lot of sweat and tears.”
On Saturday morning, it paid off.
Wilkes won the Chapin Invitational – his first ever varsity meet – at Skyline Park in 16:40.53.
“When we came around in that desert part, some kid passed me and another one took a wrong turn so that slowed down,” Wilkes said. “I knew that was my moment to surge. I was right behind an Americas kid but I knew I had a lot more kick in me and I pushed hard. I knew if it came down to a sprint, I would have it.”
The course included grass, pavement, gravel, dirt, and a small section of sand.
Americas junior Jacob Ye was second (16:43.18), third went to Socorro senior Mario Luna (16:52.22), Franklin senior Jacobo Wedemeyer was fourth (16:56.73) and Americas senior Tyler Rodriguez was fifth (16:58.11).
“Usually I go out too fast, like at a 5:08 pace, but this time I really focused on getting that second mile down a little bit,” he said. “I took the lead about a quarter to a half mile in, I knew if I stayed on pace in the second mile, things would work out and I would place well.”
Wilkes, who placed sixth at the District 1-5A Meet and 28th at the Region 1-5A Meet last year, owns the city’s 22nd fastest time, clocking a 16:38.32 at the Canutillo Invitational on August 25.
He is focused on winning a district championship and advancing to regionals and then hopefully to state.
“My goal for the past four years was to put myself in a situation where I knew I could win,” he said. “I know I have a good shot at winning district now that Aaron (Gillam, three-time district champion from Irvin) is gone but the real challenge is regionals and that’s what I’m training for.”
The Americas boys won the team title with 32 points followed by Socorro (77), Chapin (97), Burges (99) and Franklin (101).
“We’re progressing the way we want to at this point,” said Kenny Lucero, Americas’ head coach. “We’re trying to close the gap between the guys so we’re still working on that. We’re starting to see that strategy come through for us.”
The Trailblazers had its top five runners finish in the top 10 including Ye, Rodriguez, senior Alek Duran (seventh, 17:10.61), freshman Jared Laverty (eighth, 17:10.61) and freshman Carmelo Corral (tenth, 17:16.09).
“The thing I like about our team is they’re interchangeable,” Lucero said. “We have a different one guy, or two guy or three every weekend. To have that versatility between our top seven is a really good benefit for us. If they hit it on the right day, they will all be fighting for that No. 1 guy and it should make that gap pretty close. It’s a process and that’s our objective so I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
On the girl’s side, Franklin sophomore Eva Jess continues her two-year El Paso unbeaten streak alive, winning the race in 19:15.11. Chapin senior Skyler Goodman was second in 20:39.84 followed by Franklin senior Amalia Dorion (20:58.52) and a pair of Americas juniors – Daphne Duran (21:00.14) and Priscilla Villalobos (21:05.44).
Franklin’s top five finished in the top 12 to take the team title with 34 points followed by Americas (48), Socorro (66), Bel Air (108) and Hanks (114).
“I knew this team could be really good even though it was going to be a rebuilding year,” Dorion said of her Franklin teammates. “I really didn’t know how good we would be, including me. Last year at the district run, I was nearly last so I really didn’t have any expectations for myself – so I’ve really surprised myself.”
Dorion has the city’s seventh fastest time in 19:29.21.
“I’ve never really trained too hard in the summer, but this summer I did,” she said. “We all trained pretty hard in the summer and I went to the Adams State Running Camp so that motivated me as well.”
She was able to share what she had learned with the rest of her team.
“Right now, we really have great team chemistry,” she said. “Right now, I’m just focused on helping the team get to regionals. It would be great for us to run at regionals. That would cap my senior year. Individually it would be fun but to go with my team, that would be so special. That’s the ultimate goal.”
Chapin Invitational (at Skyline Park)
1, Eva Jess, Franklin, 19:15.11; 2, Skyler Goodman, Chapin, 20:39.84; 3, Amalia Dorion, Franklin, 20:58.52; 4, Daphne Duran, Americas, 21:00.14; 5, Priscilla Villalobos, Americas, 21:05.44; 6, Lauren Anderson, Americas, 21:12.85; 7, Jazmin Chacon, Socorro, 21:18.41; 8, Morayma Montes, Austin, 21:20.34; 9, Unknown, 21:28.33; 10, Paulina Friare, Hanks, 21:32.85.
1, Franklin, 34; 2, Americas, 48; 3, Socorro, 66; 4, Bel Air, 108; 5, Hanks, 114; 6, Canutillo, 131.
1, Chauncey Wilkes, Andress, 16:40.53; 2, Jacob Ye, Americas, 16:43.18; 3, Mario Luna, Socorro, 16:52.22; 4, Jacobo Wedemeyer, Franklin, 16:56.73; 5, Tyler Rodriguez, Americas, 16:58.11; 6, Angel Contreras, Chapin, 16:58.33; 7, Alek Duran, Americas, 17:10.61; 8, Jared Laverty, Americas, 17:10.61; 9, Sebastian Mendoza, Socorro, 17:13.78; 10, Carmelo Corral, Americas, 17:16.09.
1, Americas, 32; 2, Socorro, 77; 3, Chapin, 97; 4, Burges, 99; 5, Franklin, 101; 6, Andress, 149; 7, Bel Air, 161; 8, LPI, 191.
Tornillo/San Elizario XC Meet (2 miles): Girls results: 1, Angelina Lujan, Parkland, 12:02.08; 2, Britney Martinez, Loretto, 12:21.33; 3, Deserie Herrera, Eastlake, 12:31.21; 4, America Morales, San Elizario, 12:31.49; 5, Marcela Perches, Loretto, 12:39.08; 6, Katelyn Robles, Del Valle, 12:44.49; 7, Adalia Olmos, Eastwood, 12:47.80; 8, Vivian Zapata, Clint, 12:51.70; 9, Amaryllis Rubalcaba, Eastwood, 12:54.05; 10, Desiree Carrillo, Eastwood, 13:01.52.
TEAM RESULTS: 1, Eastwood, 58; 2, Loretto, 84; 3, Eastlake, 85; 4, San Elizario, 87; 5, Parkland, 93; 6, Del Valle, 109; 7, Ysleta, 138; 8, VVEC, 211.
Tornillo/San Elizario XC Meet: Boys results: 1, Edwin Gomez, San Elizario, 15:30.08; 2, Ofir Ortega, Tornillo, 15:47.21; 3, Aaron Perez, Eastwood, 15:56.30; 4, Seth Rodriguez, San Elizario, 15:58.36; 5, Steve Stresow, Cathedral, 16:14.67; 6, Eduardo Carrillo, Tornillo, 16:16.45; 7, Martin Pargas, San Elizario, 16:16.99; 8, Andres Marquez, Eastwood, 16:24.52; 9, Irvin Vasquez, San Elizario, 16:27.42; 10, Jorge Navor, Eastwood, 16:27.83.
TEAM RESULTS: 1, San Elizario, 30; 2, Eastwood, 38; 3, Cathedral, 98; 4, Del Valle, 138; 5, Fabens, 147; 6, Horizon, 162; 7, Parkland, 185; 8, Eastlake, 191; 9, Ysleta, 205; 10, Bowie, 255.