County Preview: San Elizario looks for a District 1-4A sweep, Tornillo seeks fifth consecutive District 3-3A title

District Previews

Monday – District 1-4A, District 3-3A

Tuesday – District 2-5A

Wednesday – District 1-5A

Thursday – District 1-6A

Make Plans

What: District Cross Country Championship.

When: 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 12. Rolling schedule (girls first, then boys) – District 1-6A; District 1-4A; District 2-5A, District 1-5A.

Where: Chamizal National Memorial Park, 800 S San Marcial.

 At Stake: Top three teams and top 10 individuals make it to the Region 1 Cross Country Championship, Oct. 22 at Mae Simmons Park, MLK Blvd. and 24th Street in Lubbock.

BoysHorizon (1)
San Elizario and Tornillo are favorites to win their respective district titles. San Elizario races Friday at Chamizal National Memorial and Tornillo runs Saturday in Alpine.

It’s no secret how dominant the San Elizario and Tornillo boy’s teams have been at the district and regional level.

San Elizario has experienced a bit more success at state, winning the past four Class 4A titles.

Tornillo – which has made eight state appearances in nine years – has earned silver medals the past two years in Class 3A behind nemesis Luling.

But the first step is the district meets and neither team is taking them lightly.

San Elizario will compete in the District 1-4A Championship on Friday at Chamizal National Memorial Park while Tornillo will race for the District 3-3A title Saturday in Alpine. Both teams are seeking their fifth consecutive district championships.

The Eagles are looking for another perfect score of 15 just like the previous two years when its runners placed in the top five spots.

“As far as times go, we have the potential to do even better than last year,” said Edwin Gomez, the defending district, regional and state champion. “We’ve had a little bit of issues with higher times this year because we have some new runners but we’re going to work on that.”

EdwinGomezHorizon
San Elizario sophomore Edwin Gomez is out to defend his district title Friday morning at Chamizal National Memorial.

Gomez, a sophomore, looks to repeat as district champ and will be challenged by his own teammates – Seth Rodriquez, Martin Pargas, Dilan Sanchez, Irvin Vasquez, and Tony Diaz.

“I have to give my best now,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve had a really good race this season. The best part of the season is ahead of us and the competition is going to get better with every race. Now is the time we all have to do our best.”

The real challenge in this district is who will grab the final two spots to regionals.

The Wildcats seem likely to advance with juniors Gael Hernandez, Jacob Cruz and freshman Anthony Soto leading the way with Clint and Mt. View battling for the final spot.

In District 3-3A, the Coyotes from Tornillo are the class of a very strong district. Presido always presents somewhat of a challenge but like Tornillo, they are rebuilding.

The experience of Crane should propel them to second place with Presido taking the last spot to regionals.

“This was only our second race as a full squad,” Tornillo coach Jesse Garcia said after the Clint ISD Invitational on Friday. “We are trying to build confidence. We’ve never finished in the top five at this race so this should boost our confidence heading into the next race.”

Tornillo finished third behind the defending four-time Class 4A state champ San Eli and Coronado which ran its varsity team.

“I told them that this would serve as our pre-state race because San Eli beat Luling at the Gold Race at McNeil last week,” Garcia said. “I told them if they could compete with San Eli, they could compete with Luling.”

Luling, a town of 5,700 residents in the Austin metropolitan area along the San Marcos River, has won eight straight Class 3A state championships and has been in the way of Tornillo’s first state championship.

It has been Garcia’s goal to be the first team to beat Luling at state.

“Each runner has a job to do,” he said. “Our first two guys have to meet a certain time,” he said. “Our three/four guys have a certain time to break and so on. In order for us to beat Luling, these are the things we have to do.”

Garcia is trying to build the young team’s confidence and mixing in two new runners – sophomore Michael Maney and senior Raymundo Felix.

Ofir Ortega
Tornillo’s Ofir Ortega won the Class 3A individual title at the Lubbock Invitational in 6:22.5 followed by teammate Eduardo Carrillo in 16:31.3.

Five runners – seniors Eduardo Carrillo, Heriberto Amaya and Tommy Montelongo, junior Ofir Ortega and sophomore Bryan Garcia – have race experience.

“This is the first time I’ve had to do this,” he said of limiting his team to only two races.  “We’re not red and black (Tornilo’s school colors) this year, we’re green. A lot of these kids have never run a high school cross country race before so I had to build their confidence. I’m old-school, I usually like to throw them into the fire and see what happens but with this group and the dynamics of the team and us being so green, I had to hold them back for a little bit.”

Ortega has been the workhorse all season for Tornillo is looking for his first district championship.

District 1-4A boys at a glance:

2017 District Champion: San Elizario.

2017 Individual District Champion: Edwin Gomez, San Elizario.

2017 Regional team qualifiers: San Elizario, Fabens, Mt. View.

Projected order of finish:

1, San Elizario: Put it in ink, the Eagles will win its 5th straight district title.

2, Fabens: The Wildcats look to advance to another regional meet.

3, Clint: The once powerful Lions could struggle but should have enough.

4, Mt. View: Don’t be surprised if the Lobos sneak in.

SanEliGirls2
San Elizario’s girls are going for a district three-peat on Friday morning.

The San Elizario girls are seeking their third straight district championship.

The major challenge will come from a young Clint team led by sophomore Vivian Zapata and junior Brisa Aguilar who could lead the Lions to a district championship.

Zapata will challenge for the individual gold as will a pair of San Eli runners – sophomore America Morales and junior Yajary Quiroz – and junior Nicole Estrada from Mountain View.

“We won the last two district championships, and now we’re looking for number three,” said Cesar Morales, San Elizario’s coach. “We would like to take a competitive team to regionals and to be able fight for a spot to qualify to the state championship.”

Zapata-Clint
Clint sophomore Vivian Zapata will challenge for the individual gold at Friday’s District 1-4A Championship.

Girls in Class 1A through 4A only run two-mile courses at the district, regional and state meets which could put San Elizario at a disadvantage because they have been running 3.1 mile course all season.

“Running the longer races in town will help us at the district meet since we are competing against local schools but it’s a disadvantage at regionals because teams over there have been competing on 2-mile courses and they have their two-mile pace set. That was one of the reasons we traveled to McNeil, unfortunately the girl’s race was cancelled due to lightning.”

In District 3-3A, Presidio, Crane and Alpine are much too strong for the young Tornillo team. Tornillo has shown some improvement over the past two year but not enough to earn themselves a spot to regionals.

District 1-4A girls at a glance:

2017 District Champion: San Elizario.

2017 Individual District Champion: Jocelyn Castro, Fabens.

2017 Regional team qualifiers: San Elizario, Clint, Mt. View.

Projected order of finish:

1, San Elizario: Odds are good that the Eagles will win its third straight district title.

2, Clint: The Lions were close last year.

3, Mt. View: A return to regionals is possible.

4, Fabens: Don’t count the Wildcats out.

 

Author: Victor R. Martinez

My love of running began with my son Deric. His passion and talent for distance running opened my eyes to a sport I never imaged I would embrace with such enthusiasm. As a journalist at the El Paso Times, I was the lead writer for cross country and track for several years and I was able to tell the stories of these amazing unsung athletes. Never a runner myself, I decided to change that when I turned 50 in 2016 when I trained for my first 5K. I've been running ever since and I love every minute of it - well - sort of.

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