Tornillo and San Elizario boys have 5th regional championships in sight; Arambula returns from injury

Region 1 Previews

Friday: Class 4A and Class 3A.

Saturday: Class 5A.

Sunday: Class 6A.

Make Plans

What: Region 1 Cross Country Championship.

When:  Monday, Oct. 22. Times (CST): 6A Girls, 9 a.m.; 6A Boys, 9:30 a.m.; 3A Boys, noon; 4A Girls, 1 p.m.; 4A Boys, 1:30 p.m.; 5A Girls, 2 p.m.; 5A Boys, 2:30 p.m.

Where: Mae Simmons Park, MLK Blvd. and 24th Street in Lubbock.

At Stake: Top three teams and top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the UIL Cross Country State Championship, Nov. 3 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

Clint senior Felipe Rocha will compete for a second trip to state after his 10 place finish at the District 1-4A meet where he outlasted San Elizario senior Martin Pargas.

The similarities between the San Elizario and Tornillo boys cross country teams are striking.

Each team just celebrated its fifth district championship.

Every year San Eli’s Cesar Morales and Tornillo’s Jesse Garcia  do more with less than any other coaches in the city.

On Monday morning, both will be going for their fifth regional championship in a row – San Elizario in Class 4A and Tornillo in Class 3A at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock.

“They have to want it, they have to want every inch, every step and they have to fight for it,” Garcia said about his Coyotes. “We will come out on top if we believe in one another and push one another and have that fight in them throughout the race.”

At last year’s regional meet, Tornillo finished 1-2-3-15 and 25.

Tornillo’s Heriberto Amaya was fifth at last week’s District 3-3A Championship. He is looking to help his team to it’s fifth regional championship in a row.

Eddie Carrillo, who just won the District 3-3A championship, was third and Ofir Ortega, who was the work house No. 1 guy for Tornillo, was 15th.

“I ran them heavy last week, this week we are tapering off a little bit so they can get their legs back and be ready for the big fight,” Garcia said. ‘It’s going to be very close and we’re going to need everything they’ve got.”

They will be challenged by district rival Crane which was just three points behind them at district.

“When we get back, we’ll make a few adjustments again and take what we’ve been wanting for a long time which is a state title,” Garcia said.

Winning a state title is old hat for San Elizario.

If they qualify on Monday, which is highly likely, the Eagles will be going after their fifth straight Class 4A state championship.

The return of junior Rene Arambula could not have come at a better time for San Elizario.

San Elizario junior Rene Arambula eventually caught this Clint runner to take third at the District 1-4A Championship. Arambula made his return four weeks ago after breaking his right ankle.

Arambula, who was second at last year’s regional, was thought to be lost for the season after he broke his right ankle in an ATV accident in the summer.

“It’s a great feeling being back; I missed running a lot,” he said after finishing third at the district meet. “It was tough being out. I was frustrated, having (emotional) breakdowns, trying to keep calm and give my body a rest.”

Arambula was in a cast for two months. He just started walking six weeks ago and ran his first race – at the JV level – four weeks ago.

“When the doctor told me I could run again, I was excited and happy but I knew I wouldn’t be immediately back to normal,” he said. “It took me about two weeks to get back to a steady pace.”

His first varsity race was two weeks at the Horizon Golf Course.

“I was really anxious to get back but it wasn’t about me, I wanted to get back for my team,” he said. “I knew I had failed them and I wanted to get back to them as quickly as possible.”

Morales is happy Arambula is back.

“It has been an incredible recovery for Rene,” he said. “As soon as he got the clearance from the doctor, that same day, he started running. We spoke about being smart about it and not just going out and running 10 miles right away.”

Morales was impressed by how patient Arambula has been.

“He’s a hard working kid,” Morales said. “I knew he was going to come back. I saw a big improvement from his JV race to his Horizon race not only in competition but a big improvement on a daily basis at practice. I had to put him varsity.”

Arambula is no longer going to take running for granted.

“As soon as it happened, I sent a text message to my coach and my teammates telling them that more than likely I was out for the season,” he said. “It would be a long shot if I was going to be back. But now that I’m back, I’m going to work hard and push myself but more importantly, try to push my team.”

Clint junior Brisa Aguilar out kicked Mt. View freshman Madeline Estrada at the District 1-4A meet last week. Both runners will compete in Monday’s Region 1-4A Championship in Lubbock.

The San Elizario girls also qualified for regionals along with the Fabens boys, the Clint girls and Mt. View’s boys and girls team.

Clint senior Felipe Rocha, finished in the top 10 at district and qualified as an individual.

Mt. View sophomore Joshua Gonzalez was 14th at regionals and advanced to state, as did San Elizario junior Yajary Quiroz and sophomore America Morales.