State Championship Previews
Saturday: Cathedral boys.
Sunday: Tornillo boys.
Monday: San Elizario boys.
Tuesday: Burges boys.
Wednesday: Eastwood boys and girls.
Thursday: Americas boys.
Friday: Individual qualifiers. Class 6A – Coronado, senior Liam Walsh, junior Nick Gonzalez and senior Jennelle Jaeger-Daraksy; Franklin senior Jacobo Wedemeyer and Franklin sophomore Eva Jess. Class 5A – Hanks juniors Michael Abeyta and Rodger Rivera; Eastlake’s freshman Israel David and seniors Carlos Armendariz, Aeriel Garcia and Amaris Chavez; Chapin junior Angel Contreras; Andress senior Chauncey Wilkes and Jefferson freshman Crystal Peterson. Class 4A – Mt. View junior Nicole Estrada.
What: UIL State Cross Country Championship.
When: Saturday Nov. 3. All times (CST): Girls Class 6A, 8:30 a.m.; Boys Class 6A, 9:10 a.m.; boys Class 3A, 12:10 p.m.; Girls Class 4A, 1:20 p.m.; Boys Class 4A, 1:50 p.m.; Girls Class 5A, 2;30 p.m.; Boys Class 5A, 3:10 p.m.
Where: Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.
At Stake: State team and individual titles.
Overcoming adversity is nothing new for the San Elizario cross country.
Before the season even began, the four-time defending Class 4A state champions faced a daunting challenge when All State runner junior Rene Arambula broke his left ankle and was thought to be lost for the season.
Yet, they picked themselves up and won five team championships without him behind sophomore Edwin Gomez who won the Region 1-4A title and the District 1-4A championship.
Arambula, who finished fifth at last year’s state meet surprisingly did return and contributed to San Elizario’s fifth straight district.
So, it’s no surprise how the Eagles have approached this week’s training after placing an uncharacteristic third at the region race behind Andrews and Canyon, who moved down from Class 5A.
San Elizario had won the previous four Region 1-4A crowns.
“I’m not going to lie, in the beginning, the ride home was hard,” said Cesar Morales, San Elizario’s coach. “I knew after the first mile of the race it was going to be tough. I was missing one of my runners due to personal issues, but even without him, the goal was always going to be the same and that was going to be to qualify for state.”
Which they did.
“This was a good thing,” he said. “We needed this wake-up call. It’s not always good to finish on top. I would rather have a group of hard workers than having a team full of talent.”
The regional results have grounded and humbled the team.
“Training has been more focused and the kids have been more united,” Morales said. “There is pressure to win state but not as much if we would have won regionals. The kids are relaxed now and are humble. The know it’s going to be tough.”
Arambula said the team has been working hard.
“We have a purpose now,” he said. “We have to keep moving forward and use regionals as motivation. Our mission is always to improve with every race. Regionals didn’t go as planned but that’s part of it, we just have to get better and move on.”
He said the regional loss will serve as a reminder of the work required to win a state championship.
“I’m confident about chances,” he said. “We’re not going to be pushed out that easily. We’re going to give it our best, that’s something we pride ourselves in at San Eli, we never give up.”
Morales said he is impressed with the way the team has responded.
“The kids are very motivated and are willing to work even harder,” he said. “They know it’s not going to be easy. They know our work is not done. They know everyone is going to have to improve several seconds but they also know it’s very, very possible. Now it’s a matter of making the right adjustments. The team has recommitted itself to our ultimate goal.”
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