The top three teams from each district and the top 10 individuals make it to the Region 1 Cross Country Championships. The following teams and runners have advanced:
Class 6A: Americas, Coronado and Franklin. Also, Mario Luna, Socorro and Matthew Lindesy, Montwood.
Class 5A: Eastwood, Burges, Chapin, Eastlake, Jefferson and Hanks. Also, Chauncey Wilkes and Lloyd Frilot, Andress; Adrian Morales, Irvin and Dylan Espinoza, Bowie.
Class 4A: San Elizario, Fabens, Mt. View. Also, Felipe Rocha,Clint.
Class 3A: Tornillo.
Class 6A: Franklin, Americas and Coronado. Also, Jazmin Chacon, Socorro.
Class 5A: Eastwood, Jefferson, Eastlake, Canutillo, Horizon and Burges. Also, Mora Montes, Austin; Skyler Goodman, Chapin; Marisol Hernandez, El Paso; Caryn Hart, Andress; Angelina Lujan, Parkland and Jaqueline Spencer, Hanks.
Class 4A: San Elizario, Clint and Mt. View.
Region 1 Cross Country Championship, Oct. 22 at Mae Simmons Park, MLK Blvd. and 24th Street in Lubbock.
Eight district cross country championship were up for grabs on a wet, muddy hilly course at the Chamizal National Memorial Park on Friday.
On this dreary morning, just right for a cross country meet, three runners – Hanks sophomore Michael Abeyta and the Coronado duo of junior Nick Gonzalez and senior Liam Walsh – finished with sub 16-minute 5K times.
The San Eizario boys finished with a perfect score of 15 to capture their fifth consecutive district championship; the Americas boys and the Franklin girls won district titles for the first time since 2005 and the Eastwood boys won its eighth straight district championship.
Here is a rundown on the district races.
District 1-5A roundup
The highlight of the meet – and biggest surprise – was Jefferson’s Peterson, who won the District 1-5A championship in only her second varsity race.
“It was kind of unexpected for me,” Peterson said. “I never ran cross country before and I didn’t get started until late August so I had to build myself up to reach this point.”
Jefferson’s girls placed five runners – Peterson (first, 19:44.80), freshman Monique Correa (second, 20:44.56), Melody Tsutsumi (fourth, 20:54.08), Ivette Rojas (seventh, 21:17.93) and Saxon Alvarez (10th, 21:36.13) – in the top 10 to easily win the team title with 20 points followed by Canutillo and Burges. All three qualified for the Region 1-5A Championship in Lubbock on Oct. 22.
Runners also advancing to regional who are not on a qualifying team are Austin sophomore Mora Montes (third, 20:50.21), Chapin senior Skyler Goodman (fifth, 20:58.50), El Paso High junior Marisol Hernandez (sixth, 21:09.39) and Andress sophomore Caryn Hart (ninth, 21:33.14).
Peterson, who plays basketball and is a 400-meter runner, said her friends encouraged her to run cross country.
“I never really heard much about cross country but my friends wanted me to come out and try it and now I like it,” she said.
A district championship will do that to a runner.
Jefferson’s longtime coach Alfredo Trejo said the team has been working towards this the entire season.
“This is what we’ve been working on all season, to peak at the right time,” he said. “The girls ran well today, they deserved to win it.”
He wasn’t even surprised that Peterson won.
“We thought she could run well so we brought her and ran her on JV,” he said. “She’s been getting better with every race. And then two weeks ago we ran her here on the varsity and she ran really well.”
On the boy’s side, Burges narrowly defended its title scoring 56 points, just ahead of Chapin and Jefferson each with 63 points. All three teams advance to the regional meet
Andress senior Chauncey Wilkes won the individual title in 16:38.41, ahead of Burges senior Sam Zambrano (16:42.72) and Jefferson’s D’Angelo Flores (17:12.23).
Andress senior Lloyd Frilot (fifth, 17:30,) Irvin senior Adrian Morales (eighth, 17:32.98) and Bowie junior Dylan Espinoza (10th, 17:36.92) also earn regional spots.
“I never thought that I could be that guy but here I am,” Wilkes said of being a district champion. “It’s something special, it’s just an awesome feeling. Four years ago I would never have thought I would be where I am now.”
Wilkes said he didn’t feel he was consistent enough or good enough to be a district champion, but here he is.
“Last year I made that jump and was able to be in that front pack,” he said. “Now I really cemented myself into that. I went to a runner’s camp and I was able to see some top talent and I saw their lifestyle and the work they put in. You can’t just put in slow miles and that changed my mentality, that really inspired me to make my jump.”
District 2-5A roundup
Another freshman, Eastwood’s Lauren Walls, came away with a surprise championship, winning the District 2-5A race in 19:23.73.
“I wanted to get out fast for my team and build them up from the start,” Walls said. “My only motivation was to help my team win. It surprised me that I won the race because the Eastlake girl Aeriel (Garcia) is such a good runner. She is tough and strong so I was surprised that I was able to push pass her.”
Walls helped Eastwood to its 11th district title in 13 years. The Troopers placed four runners in the top 10 – Walls and juniors Meadow Ortiz (fifth, 20:34.94), Destiny Martinez (sixth, 20:34.94), Eileen McLain (10th, 21:16.56).
Eastlake was second behind two seniors – Garcia (second, 19:47.43) and Amari Chavez (third, 20:15.59) – and Horizon was third with two runners – senior Kenia Enriquez (fourth, 20:31.26) and junior Destiny Beltran (seventh, 21:02.05) – finishing in the top 10.
Two runners not on the three qualifying teams – Parkland sophomore Angelina Lujan (eighth, 21:14.84) and Hanks senior Jaqueline Spencer (10th, 21:20.97) – qualified for regionals.
Eastwood’s boys won its eighth straight district championship scoring 25 points and placing six runners in the top 10.
Senior Kayn Quinones led the way for the Troopers finishing third behind the Hanks junior duo of Michael Abeyta (15:42.74) and Rodger Rivera (16:03.89).
Quinones was third in 16:14.00 followed by teammates junior Elias Perez (fourth, 16:28,23), sophomore Nathan Hernandez (fifth, 16:28.23), junior Juan Olmos (sixth, 16:30.73), senior Eddie Gallegos (seventh, 16:30.24) and sophomore Sergio Leon Cuartes (10th, 16:46.41).
Eastlake, behind freshman Israel David (eighth, 16:33.44) and senior Carlos Armendariz (9th, 16:41.48), finished second with 74 points, one point ahead of Hanks. All three teams will be headed to regionals.
“It feels good to win district but our goal is to continue on to regionals and state so this was a good first step,” Quinones said. “The race wasn’t too bad, it was cold at the start and a little muddy and not too slippery but there were a lot of crazy turns and the hills were kind of tricky but overall it was a good race.”
For Abeyta, it was just another day at the office, winning his third District 2-5A championship.
“All the mud and the rain made it really fun,” he said. “The hills were also fun. I love hills, I train on them almost every day.”
What was different about this district championship was Abeyta brought a friend in Rivera.
“It was kind of unexpected,” Rivera said of his second-place finish. “Running in the mud is not my strong suit but I did OK. It was fun, it was a good race.”
District 1-6A roundup
For the first time since 2005, the Americas boys were able to hoist the District 1-6A trophy over their heads.
Americas had four runners – senior Tyler Rodriguez (third, 16:21.83), freshman Jared Laverty (fifth, 16:35.06), junior Jacob Ye (sixth, 16:36.05) and senior Alek Duran (10th, 16:53.83) – in the top 10 to score 38 points.
“They’ve been disappointed the past few years,” said Americas coach Ken Lucero. “We always have high expectations and been disappointed so this is very satisfying. We work so hard every year and we finally win it; the kids deserve it.”
Lucero has been blessed with some talented teams and runners over his 10-year tenure at Americas. He said this team ranks right up there with the best of them.
“Overall this is probably our best time,” he said. “We’ve had better individuals on the team who have finished higher. Jayden Rankins won it my first year here and then Cameron (Laverty) was the first one in school history to make it to the state and Brian Lujan was the second one so we’ve had some top level guys but as a team and the gap being close and running as a pack, this is the best one.”
Coronado was second with 55 points and Franklin was third with 77 points to earn a trip to regionals.
Coronado’s 1-2 runners junior Nick Gonzalez and senior Liam Walsh were first and second in times of 15:58.97 and 15:59.51.
Socorro senior Mario Luna (eighth, 16:50.67) and Montwood senior Matthew Lindesy (ninth, 16:53.56) also earned trips to regionals.
“Winning my first district championship feels so great,” Gonzalez said. “Liam is great. We have a great competitive relationship. It’s always back and forth between us. We really pushed each other in this race and in our training.”
Franklin sophomore Eva Jess pushed the young Cougars to its first district championship since 2005, just like the Americas boys.
The Cougars had four runners in the top 10 and finished with 34 points. Americas was second with 61 points and Coronado was third with 66.
Jess finished in 18:39.37 followed by Coronado senior Jennelle Jaeger-Darakjy (19:07.31), Americas junior Daphne Duran (19:57.28), Franklin senior Amalia Dorion (20:24.29) and Socorro junior Jazmin Chacon (20:35.39).
“This is not terrible, I hope it continues for the next two years,” Jess said. “We push each other in practice every single day, we love each other so much. It’s definitely hard work but it definitely pays off.”
District 1-4A roundup
Don’t look now but there’s another “Estrada” on the loose.
Mt. View junior Nicole Estrada picked a good time to win her first varsity meet.
Estrada won the 2-mile District 1-4A Championship in 15:58.97, a second ahead of San Elizario sophomore America Morales (15:59.51). Clint sophomore Vivian Zapata was third in 16:21.83, teammate Brisa Aguilar, a junior, was fourth in 16:26.47 and Mt. View freshman Madeline Estrada was fifth in 16:35.06.
“I know there would be a lot of great competition and I needed to push myself,” Estrada said. “Going up the big hills, I felt confident that I would do well in the race.”
If “Estrada from Mt. View sounds familiar it’s because Nicole’s two older sisters, Emily and Michelle, each won District 1-4A cross country championships as well.
Oh, and by the way, that freshman Madeline Estrada who finished fifth is the younger sister.
“It’s hard sometimes,” Nicole Estrada said of living up to the Estrada name. “I know I have to do well because of who my sisters are. I want to do good not only for me but for them too. I know they worked really hard when they were running so I want to make them proud.”
San Elizario won back-to-back team titles. But it was not easy.
San Elizario and Clint finished with an identical 36 points but the Eagles won the title based on its sixth runner junior Giselle Acevedo who finished 14th, three spots ahead of Clint’s sixth runner sophomore Leilani Navarrete.
Mt. View was third with 53 points. San Elizario, Clint and Mt. View will advance to regionals.
“We’ve come a long way,” San Elizario coach Cesar Morales said. “We lost some girls due to graduation and injuries so we came out with a fairly no group. We knew it was going to be tough with Clint and Mt. View. Before the race we talked about how important our fifth, sixth and seventh runner was going to be and it came down to the sixth runner.”
The San Elizario boys scored a perfect score of 15, placing its scoring runners in the top five.
Sophomore Edwin Gomez was first in 16:33.79 followed by freshman Irvin Vazquez (17:30.16), junior Rene Arambula (17:40.71) and sophomores Dilan Sanchez (17:46.68) and Jacob Ordonez (17:48.50).
Fabens was second with 68 points followed by Mt. View with 74. All three teams qualify for regionals as well as Clint senior Felipe Rocha (10th, 18:24.21).
Coach Morales was happy to have Arambula back after missing most of the season recovering from a broken ankle.
“My main instructions to the team was not to win but to still healthy,” Morales said. “The course was muddy and getting worse so all I wanted from them was to stay healthy and qualify for regionals. At the end we ended up getting a perfect score again but that was not the priority.”
District 3-3A roundup
Tornillo’s boy made it five District 3-3A championships in row Saturday morning at the Paisano Baptist Encampment in Alpine.
Tornillo placed three runners in the top 10 including district champion Eddie Carrillo and district runner up Ofir Ortega.
Carrillo managed the rocky, hillside course in 17 minutes, 11 seconds, followed by Ortega who crossed the line in 17:35.
Heribeto Amaya was fifth (18:21) followed by Bryan Garcia (13th, 18:54), Michael Maney (14th. 19:06), Tommy Montelongo (16th, 19:16) and Bryan Guzman (17th, 19:16).
The Coyotes ended the day with 35 points followed by Crane with 38 points and Presido with 67. All three teams will advance to the Region 1-3A Championship in Lubbock.
“We had a tough race with Crane,” Tornillo head coach Jesse Garcia said. “Crane has everybody back from last year’s team with all that experience but we managed to pull it off on a tough course against state-caliber competition.”
Last year, Tornillo was second at state, Crane was fifth and Presido was ninth.
“For me, district has always been the hardest race, even harder than regional and state,” Garcia said. “I don’t know why but it just is. We have a tough little district, it’s no joke.”
The district race helped the team prepare for the next two races.
“What the district meet does for the boys is it wakes them up and lets them know that we are going to be challenged,” he said. “I told them before the race that every race is going to be cardiac race from here on in. Every race is going to be close but I expect them to come out on top, even at state where the bigger dogs are at.”
Garcia said he was not surprised with Carrillo’s individual district championship.
“Eddie has been my number two guy all season,” Garcia said. “He has been nursing an injury all season but he did finish 11th at state last year so we knew he had it in him. Ofir wasn’t 100 percent, either. He had to go to the doctor a few times last week to clean out his stomach which took away his strength. If these guys get it right, it should make for a fun race at regionals where they should be pushing each other for one and two.”
Garcia expects a fifth consecutive regional championship on Monday.
“We can’t let the teams or the guys in the past down,” he said. “They built this regional championship tradition. We not only have won regional team championships the past four years but we’ve also had individual champions each year. I have a feeling we’re going to come out strong in the next two races. I’ve made a few training changes that hopefully will create a lot tighter unit and defend that 79853 zip code with everything they’ve got.”