District 1-6A Preview: Americas boys, Franklin girl’s favorites to win titles; Jess looks to defend individual championship

District Previews

Monday – District 1-4A, District 3-3A

Tuesday – District 2-5A

Wednesday – District 1-6A

Thursday – District 1-5A

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 the 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.

AmericasBoys
The Americas boys are looking for its first district championship since 2005.

 

One thing is certain to happen at Friday’s district cross country championships – a new District 1-6A champion will be crowned.

Because of realignment, Eastwood – the district and region champion and bronze medalist at state – will compete in Class 5A the next two years, opening the door for a new district champion in both boys and girl’s races.

That boy’s team should be the deep and talented Americas Trailblazers.

Americas has had an impressive season competing in three out-of-town meets, including the McNeil Invitational where they finished a very impressive fourth out of 81 teams right behind state power Southlake Carroll.

They averaged 15:53 as a team and also had a 39 second 1-5 split.

They had four runners in the top 60 with junior Jacob Ye leading the team with a time of 15:39.67 finishing 30th, senior Alek Duran finishing 47th with a time of 15:48.30, and senior Tyler Rodriguez finishing 53rd with a time of 15:51.29.

Jared Laverty came in with a freshman national best of 15:51.29.

“The team has been performing really well all season,” Rodriguez said. “Our two freshmen have helped us a lot and the older guys bring a lot of experience so we’ve been able to win a lot of meets this season.”

Freshman Melo Corral, junior Seth Andrade and sophomore Gage Garcia make up the remainder of the team.

Rodriguez said he is excited about Friday’s district meets and the potential Americas has to advance to the state meet.

“As an underclassman, I always watched the older guys have an opportunity to compete at state, now it’s finally our chance to move up there,” he said. “Hopefully we can make it, its something I’m looking forward to.”

Americas is looking for its first district championship in 13 years. The Trailblazers have won a district championship in 1999, 2000, 2004 and 2005.

CoroBoysHill
Coronado will need a total team effort if they hope to return to the regional meet.

The real battle will be for the final two qualifying team spots for the UIL 6A Region 1 Championship between Franklin, Coronado and Socorro.

Franklin is one of the most improved teams in the city and appears to be peaking at the right time.

“They definitely don’t have any pressure on them,” said coach Anthony Laspada. They’ve put in the work during the summer. Our goal since the beginning of the season was to advance to regionals. If we do everything we have to do, we should be able to get in.”

Four of its runners, including its top two runners – senior Jacobo Wedemeyer and junior Daniel Kennedy – had personal best times at the Desert Twilight Invitational two weeks ago.

“That experience we had and the teams we faced out there was like no other,” Laspada said. “Our boys and girls have never experienced anything like that before. They were nervous before the race but they all did great; a lot of them had personal best times.”

FHS-StevenPorras
Franklin junior Steven Porras is the Cougars No. 3 man. His finish will be pivotal in Franklin’s quest for a trip to regionals.

Laspada said that race give the boys and girls team confidence.

“It made them ready for district, regionals and hopefully we can squeeze in there for state,” he said. “At least they got that exposure to that type of caliber of competition.”

Franklin missed out on the regional meet last year, placing fourth at district.

Coronado’s top three – senior Liam Walsh, juniors Nick Gonzalez and Alan Alba – have been carrying the T-Birds all season and hope to hold off Socorro for the final spot.

Individually, the race is wide open.

The top returning runner is Coronado’s Walsh who placed third in 16:23.26 ahead of Gonzalez (16:34.63) his teammate, Wedemeyer (16:35.83) and Americas’ Ye (16:42.57) at last year’s meet.

Look for Americas’ Rodriquez and Socorro’s Mario Luna to also contend.

All six have run well this season against quality competition and courses.

District 1-6A boys at a glance:

2017 District Champion: Eastwood.

2017 Individual District Champion: Anthony Molina, Eastwood.

2017 Regional team qualifiers: Eastwood, Coronado, Americas.

Projected order of finish:

1, Americas: The Trailblazers are the team to beat. Balance throughout its top five makes them the clear favorite.

2, Franklin: Cougars four and five runners will be the difference.

3, Coronado: It’s very possible the T-Birds will have three runners in the top 10.

4, Socorro: The Bulldogs are dangerous and could grab the last spot to regionals.

5, Montwood: The Rams could be a year out.

6, Pebble Hills: The Spartans have work to do.

Eva Jess@Chapin
Franklin sophomore Eva Jess will defending her District 1-6A title Friday morning at 9 a.m. at the Chamizal National Memorial.

Laspada, Franklin’s coach, has been blessed with a talented squad of young ladies who are willing to put in the effort.

As the year has progressed, the Cougars have gained valuable experience and confidence, all culminating with an impressive finish in the Sweepstakes race at Desert Twilight where six of the seven girls earned personal best times.

“With hard work and everyday grinding, things will start to take care of itself,” Laspada said. “I know it sounds cliché but whatever these girls put their minds to, they can accomplish.”

The team – seniors Amalia Dorion and Natalie Linford, junior Lorien Clark, sophomores Eva Jess and Sarah Villaronga and freshmen Jenna Saunders and Jordan Torres – have put together a strong season.

“I don’t really know they realize what they have accomplished so far,” Laspada said. “Every week we have a different girl who steps up. If one girl has a bad day, another girl will step up. That says a lot about their character and their competitiveness.”

Last time Franklin won a district championship was in 2005.

However, if the Cougars do falter, Americas is more than capable of winning its second district championship in two years.

Americas core group of girls – juniors Daphne Duran, Priscilla Villalobos and Victoria Duran – won the district championship as freshmen and with the addition of sophomore Lauren Anderson, they can win it again.

Americas has won district titles in 2000, 2004, 2005 and 2016.

Which leaves Coronado and Socorro fighting for the final spot to regionals.

Coronado is always dangerous with one-two punch senior Jennelle Jaeger-Daraksy and junior Sophia Flores leading the way to a possible second consecutive regional team appearance.

“Our team is doing really well right now,” said Jennelle Jaeger-Darakjy, Coronado’s top runner. “Every week our times are dropping. We’re doing better and better week after week because of the way we train. We try to progressively get better and drop down a couple of spots; that’s the way our coaches train us.”

The return of senior Lilly Breceda, who has been nursing an injury, will help the T-Bird cause.

“Right now, we should be at our peak,” Jaeger-Darakjy said. “We work really, really hard for what we want. We’re going to surprise some people so I’m pretty excited about that.”

JazminChaconSocorro
Socorro junior Jazmin Chacon is looking for a top 10 finish which will earn her a trip to regionals.

Socorro could challenge for the final spot to regionals if it’s four and five runners pick up the pace. Twin sisters Jazmin and Janeth Chacon pace the Bulldogs with freshman Ana Rojas providing a solid three.

Individually, the race is for second place as Franklin’s Jess is clearly the class of the city. Her toughest challenge will come from Jaeger-Daraksy with Duran and Flores battling for top five spots.

District 1-6A girls at a glance:

2017 District Champion: Eastwood.

2017 Individual District Champion: Eva Jess, Franklin.

2017 Regional qualifiers: Eastwood, Coronado, Americas.

Projected order of finish:

1, Franklin: The young Cougars just might be a year away from challenging for a bid to state.

2, Americas: The Trailblazers are very capable of upsetting Franklin.

3, Coronado: The T-Birds outpointed Socorro by 13 points at the Chamizal two weeks ago.

4, Socorro: The final spot for regionals will come down to the fifth runner.

5, Montwood: Don’t count out the Rams.

6, Pebble Hills: Only way is up for the Spartans.

 

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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