Top 10 state finish in sights for Burges

State Championship Previews

Sunday:  Tornillo boys.

Monday: San Elizario boys.

Tuesday: Burges boys.

Wednesday: Eastwood boys and girls.

Thursday: Americas boys.

Friday: Individual qualifiers. Class 6A – Coronado runners senior Liam Walsh and junior Nick Gonzalez; Franklin senior Jacobo Wedemeyer; Coronado senior Jennelle Jaeger-Daraksy and Franklin sophomore Eva Jess. Class 5A – Hanks juniors Michael Abeyta and Rodger Rivera; Eastlake teammates freshman Israel David and senior Carlos Armendariz; Chapin junior Angel Contreras; Andress senior Chauncey Wilkes; Jefferson freshman Crystal Peterson and Eastlake seniors Aeriel Garcia and Amaris Chavez. Class 4A – Mt. View junior Nicole Estrada.

Make Plans

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.

The strength of the Burges team is its depth. Sophomore David Gonzalez was 28th at the Region 1-5A Championship and senior Luis Cuevas was 41st.

As the Burges Mustangs cross country team prepares for its second straight Class 5A UIL State Cross Country Championship, head coach Alex Smith remains calm.

The veteran coach rarely shows emotion.

Even at the regional championship where the Mustangs squeezed in to earn the final spot to Round Rock with a fourth place finish, one point behind Canyon Randall and eight points ahead of Aledo, Smith remained stoic.

OK, he cracked a smile, a tiny one, but a smile nevertheless.

“I felt that we were strong enough to move on,” he said. “Out of the runners who are going, three of them were here last year so based on that I thought we had a very good chance of going back to state.”

Senior Sam Zambrano led the way at regionals finishing 11th in 15:47.00.

Returning from the 2017 state team are three seniors –  Zambrano, Luis Cuevas and Angel Ortiz – junior Noah Yeager and sophomores David Gonzalez, Dylan Walker and Luis Holguin.

Burges senior Sam Zambrano is making his third state appearance. This is the second consecutive year the team has advanced to the state meet.

Burges finished 14th at last year’s state meet.

“With the way that we’ve been running, I would love to come in the top 10,” Smith said. “At one point during the season I thought we were a top 5 team but the way things have panned out, I think it would be very good if we finished in the top 10.”

Zambrano said this season has been rebuilding year.

“We had a fourth senior who decided not to run this year so we had to add two new sophomores,” he said. “We were actually a little surprised that we made it back to state. We knew we could make it but we weren’t sure until the very end.”

He said the team is now focused.

“Anything can happen at state,” he said. “For me, I focus on what we are working on that day. I don’t like looking past what we have to do. We just have to do our jobs. We all know what we have to do.”

Zambrano is looking for a top 20 performance for himself and a top 10 finish for his team.

“Last year we didn’t do as well as we thought we could have,” he said. “Hopefully, we can go top 10 or maybe a top seven if everything goes well. We just have to believe in ourselves and run together as a whole.”

This will be his third state meet.

Senior Angel Ortiz has been steady all season for the Mustangs. His points will be very important if the Mustangs hope to finish in the top 10 at state.

“It’s my senior year so I really want to do well,” he said. “I’m going to be nervous, I always get anxious before the start but once the gun goes off, I calm my nerves and start to run on pace and just try to place myself in a good position.”

Burges appears to be peaking at the right time.

“Last year, I knew our team would be good enough to advance to state and we did it,” he said. “This year, I knew we could do it as well but we weren’t working as a unit in the beginning of the season so I was worried about that.”

Mentally and physically, the Mustangs are ready to toe the line with the best Texas has to offer.

“We’re in the right frame of mind right now,” Zambrano said. “Physically, we are ready, we just have to put it all out there and compete. This is it, there are no tomorrows, it’s our last run together so we have to go out there and give it our all.”

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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