During the brutal months and dog days of summer training, Coronado High School seniors Jennelle Jaeger-Darakjy and Liam Walsh had one thing on their mind – a return trip to the UIL Cross Country State Championship.
“I decided not to do summer track this year,” Jaeger-Darakjy said. “That was really hard for me because I’ve been doing it ever since I was a 7th grader. I decided to train really hard in cross. I started really early in my training program with my training partner Dominic Lara who is on the boy’s team. We do every run together.”
Jaeger-Darakjy was ninth at last year’s UIL 6A-Region 1 meet, finishing in 17:11.17 and 22nd at the state meet in 18:25.2.
Walsh was seventh at the Region 1-6A race in 15:11.36 and 31st at state in 15:44.03.
Both will race at Saturday’s Ysleta/Hanks Cross Country Meet at Northeast Regional Park.
The varsity girls will run first at 8 a.m. followed by the varsity boys.
“Right after my junior season of track I started to put in the miles for cross,” Jaeger-Darakjy said. “I feel a lot stronger this year. My training has been really good. We’ll see what happens.”
Walsh said he too was happy with his summer training.
“I trained with a Coronado alum and ex-runner named Osman Reyes who helped me prepare for competition this year,” he said. “I’m very excited about my chances of going back to state but I know I’m going to have to run what I ran last year, 15:11 or lower. Competition at the state level is pretty high so I’m going to have to pick up the pace and keep training.”
The state cross country meet is Nov. 3 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.
As a team, Coronado placed 11th at the regional meet in 2017.
“I love my team, they’re my friends and my training buddies,” Walsh said. “I can’t wait for them to be able to experience regionals and hopefully come to state with me this year. I’m just looking for a great year.”
Jaeger-Darakjy said the Coronado girls have also been training hard with hopes of returning to the regional meet where they finished 10th.
“The girls have been training as a group and are sticking together as a team,” she said. “And the boys are doing pretty well so it would be great if both teams made it to regionals just like last year.”
For now, Jaeger-Darakjy will continue putting in the training miles trying to improve her times and hopefully earning a scholarship.
“God willing, if I do make it back to state, I hope that I can get in the top 15,” she said. “If I continue with the direction that I am going on and continue training hard with my partner and hitting my paces, hopefully I will be there.”