Eastwood entered its fifth straight UIL State Cross Country Championship with an unfamiliar label – the favorites.
The Troopers, who won bronze at last year’s championship at the Class 6A level, easily earned the school’s first state cross country championship Saturday afternoon at Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock.
Eastwood won the championship scoring 62 points, 29 ahead of two-time Class 5A champion Lucas Lovejoy and 25 points better than state runner-up Austin Johnson.
Burges was 15th with 382 points.
“A state championship is big,” Eastwood coach Mike McLain said. “I felt we had a great opportunity to win state this year. I knew we had a chance. Our philosophy all year was to get into some really big meets against the best teams in the country so that these meets don’t feel like big meets, they just feel like another meet.”
Eastwood placed four runners in the top 25 – Sergio Cuartas (11th, 15:29.82), Juan Olmos (12th, 15:33.69), Kayn Quinones (16th, 15:39.75) and Elias Perez (21st, 5:47.13.).
Eddie Gallegos was 32nd in 16:00.52, Aaron Perez was 63rd in 16:27.85 and Nathan Hernandez was 64th in 16:27.91.
“Was there any special preparation for this race, nope, just normal preparation,” McLain. “We didn’t change a thing. We just go out there and do what we do every week and have a good race, not a great race, just a good race. If we have a good race than we’ll take care of business and we’ll do just fine.”
Olmos, a junior, said winning a state championship means a lot to a program that has advanced to the state meet seven out of the past eight years.
“We’ve been working towards this for years and so did the guys before us and the guys before them,” he said. “It’s amazing to be able to bring home a state title to our school and for each other, it really means a lot. We did it for each other and for the coaches.”
Olmos said this championship is made more special because of who it was with.
“This is what you can accomplish if you work together,” he said. “We all worked really hard to get where we’re at. These guys are my brothers, we had a great time racing together, getting here and having a lot of fun.”
Individually in Class 5A, Hanks junior Michael Abeyta and Rodger Rivera earned All State honors after finishing 5th and 8th in 15:15.72 and 15:20.56 as did Eastlake senior Aerial Garcia. She was 7th in the girl’s race in 18:27.77.
Eastwood girls finished 11th in the team standings.
“The girls came in here ranked 16 out of 16 teams and finished 11,” McLain said. “They ran their butts off. For their first time here, they stepped up and beat several teams predicted to come out ahead of them.”
For Eastlake’s Garcia, her All State performance was a year in the making.
“I really wasn’t expecting to do as well as I did,” Garcia said. “I was pretty confident I would finish top 20 but I had no idea it would be a top 10. I knew had to give everything I had.”
At last year’s state championship Garcia finished 117th.
“Knowing what happened last year lit a little fire underneath me,” she said. “I always kept it in the back of my mind and I know that’s not a really good thing to carry with you but it was motivational for me. Last year my goal was to get to state but this year the goal was to place and to get a medal. Whenever I wanted to quit in practice the thought of 117 kept me going even when I didn’t want.”
Being All State means a lot for Garcia.
“I’ve always wanted to make my parents proud of me, whatever it took, that was always the initial goal for me,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to strive to be what they’ve always wanted me to be. I like being a very successful person so to me this symbolizes my hard work.”
Class 5A Results
Championship Results (Boys): 1, Graydon Morris, Aledo, 15:03.98; 2, Cameron Kleiman, Austin Johnson, 15:08.41; 3, Yaseen Abdalla, Austin Johnson. El Paso runners: 5, Michael Abeyta, Hanks, 15:15.72; 8, Rodger Rivera, Hanks, 15:20.56; 11, Sergio Cuartas, Eastwood, 15:29.82; 12, Juan Olmos, Eastwood, 15:33.69; 16, Kayn Quinones, Eastwood, 15:39.75; 21, Elias Perez, Eastwood, 15:47.13; 23, Angel Contreras, Chapin, 15:48.70; 32, Eddie Gallegos, Eastwood, 16:00.52; 43, Israel David, Eastlake, 16:09.56; 56, Carlos Armendariz, Eastlake, 16:23.06; 63, Aaron Perez, Eastwood, 16:27.85; 64, Nathan Hernandez, Eastwood, 16:27.91; 83, Angel Ortiz, Burges, 16:45.09; 97, Chauncey Wilkes, Andress, 16:52.30; 114, Luis Cuevas, Burges, 17:06.68; 115, Sam Zambrano, Burges, 17:07.79; 122, Noah Yeager, Burges, 17:26.10; 124, David Gonzalez, Burges., 17:36.43; 134, Dylan Walker, Burges, 17:57.62; 144, Luis Holguin, Burges, 19:00.88.
Team results: 1, Eastwood, 62; 2, Austin Johnson, 87; 3, Lucas Lovejoy, 91; 15, Burges, 382.
Championship Results (Girls): 1, London Cublreath, McKinny North, 16:58.52; 2, Allison Wilson, Montgomery, 17:16.33; 3, Colleen Stegmann, Frisco Reedy, 17:28.87. El Paso runners; 7, Aerial Garcia, Eastlake, 18:27.77; 13, Amaris Chavez, Eastlake, 18:48.42; 25, Lauren Walls, Eastwood, 19:25.55; 38, Meadow Ortiz, Eastwood, 19:52.02; 43, Crystal Peterson, Jefferson, 19:21.03; 48 Eileen McLain, Eastwood, 20:10.28; 69, Destiny Martinez, Eastwood, 20:26.23; 86, Lauren Villareal, Eastwood, 20:56.76; 104, Adalia Olmos, Eastwood, 22:22.12; 105 Andrea Miramontes, 22:26.49.
Team results: 1, Frisco Wakeland, 90; 2, Boerne Champion, 98; 3, Cedar Park, 106; 11, Eastwood, 266.
Coronado senior Liam Walsh earned All State honors with a 10th place finish in 15:13.37 and Americas finished 15th in its first state meet.
Coronado senior Jenelle Jaeger-Darakjy just missed out on All State honors as she placed 11th in 17:35.41. Franklin sophomore Eva Jess was 14th in 17:40.36.
“It’s been a great experience,” Walsh said of running for Coronado. “At first I wasn’t really team oriented but as I got older, I become a better version of myself through cross country and track and I learned not only to be a good athlete but a good teammate.”
Walsh has helped in the development of teammates Nick Gonzalez who placed 21st in 15:29.16 and Alan Alba who just missed out on a state bid at regionals.
“They’ve been great,” Walsh said. “They are way better than I ever will be so I want to see the best of them. I hope they can follow and do better than me next year.”
Walsh said he is also happy with his development this season.
“I really wanted to PR, my PR is 15:08, I didn’t hit it but I was close and I’m satisfied with that,” he said. “I improved a lot from last year and that’s what I really wanted to see.”
Class 6A results
Championship Results (Boys): 1, Alex Maier, Flower Mound, 14:34.92; 2, Ryan Schoppe, LaPorte, 14:43.88; 3, Spencer Cardinal, The Woodland, 14:50.25. El Paso runners: 10, Liam Walsh, Coronado, 15:13.37; 21, Nick Gonzalez, Coronado, 15:29.16; 27, Jacob Ye, Americas, 15:47.33; 33, Tyler Rodriguez, Americas, 15:50.33; 62, Jared Laverty, Americas, 16:04.26; 83, Seth Andrade, Americas, 16:26.97; 84, Gage Garcia, Americas, 16:29.09; 86, Alek Duran, Americas, 16:30.82; 100, Jacobo Wedemeyer, Franklin, 16:06.88; 109, Carmelo Corral, 17:30.40.
Team results: 1, Coppell, 79; 2, Flower Mound, 93; 3, Prosper, 94.
Championship Results (Girls): 1, Ashlyn Hillyard, Plano, 16:38.30; 2, Brynn Brown, Guyer, 16:45.36; 3, Aubrey O’Connell, Prosper, 16:52.84. El Paso runners: 11, Jennelle Jaeger-Darakjy, Coronado, 17:35.41; 14, Eva Jess, Franklin, 17:40.36.
Team results: 1, The Woodlands, 99; 2, Southlake Carroll, 113; 3, Flower Mound, 117; 15, Americas, 289.
It’s never easy defending a state championship.
But San Elizario was successful at it three times before.
Saturday was a much different story.
The Eagles fell 12 points short of its fifth consecutive state title, finishing third behind state champion Decatur (90 points) and Andrews (92).
“To be honest, we wanted to win it and it’s sad that we didn’t but I’m still very proud of this team,” San Elizario coach Cesar Morales said. “We came in ranked eighth out of 16 but I knew we could have taken it. I took full responsible for what happened this season. I told the kids things were going to change a little bit next year. I’m going to reflect on the season and come back with a new plan to make us better.”
Defending Class 4A individual state champion, sophomore Edwin Gomez earned a silver medal.
“I broke my personal best at 15:07,” he said. “The guy who beat me had a 15:02, so you know it was a very tough race.”
Judson Greer from Melissa ran the course in 15:02.90 while Gomez finished in 15:07.63.
“We had our ups and downs this season,” Gomez said. “We had three runners who had leg injuries but we can’t use that as an excuse, we have to use this to prepare and build for next season. We can’t wait to get started.”
Morales said things happen for a reason.
“After everything that has happened this season, I’m very proud of this team and I’ll stand by them all the time,” he said. “We’re going to use this experience to get better. I only have one senior so all the guys will be back. I know the rest of the team is going to improve and we are going to learn from this. It’s a step down but we are going to use it as a platform to move up.”
Class 4A results
Championship Results (Boys): 1, Judson Greer, Melissa, 15:02.90; 2, Edwin Gomez, San Elizario, 15:07.63; 3, Samuel Ashley, Canyon, 15:40.49. San Elizario runners: 20, Irvin Vazquez, 16:46.61; 21, Martin Pargas, 16:46.94; 23, Rene Arambula, 16:48.15; 36, Dilan Sanchez, 17:13.70; 87, Seth Rodriguez, 18:07.41; 90, Jacob Ordonez, 18:11.63.
Team results: 1, Decatur, 90; 2, Andrews, 92; 3, San Elizario, 102.
Cathedral senior Brandon Seagreaves won the TAPPS Class 6A title for the third straight year, finishing in 16:20.6.
As a team, Cathedral placed 4th with 116 points behind state champ San Antonio Antonian (75), Houston St. Thomas (96) and Argyle Liberty (101).
“I’ve never looked at it as being a defending state champion,” said Seagreaves, who committed to Houston on Sunday. “I’ve always looked at it as being back to square one, pretending I don’t have any state championships. I’ve been really good about resetting and refocusing each year.”
After his freshman year, Seagreaves knew he could be a state champion.
“I knew it was possible for me to be a state champion so I put my head down and I put in a lot of hard work and I won my sophomore year,” he said. “One of the things I took away from that is year after year, it’s never going to get easier. As a matter of fact, it gets harder because it doesn’t matter if you are seeded first going into a race or seeded last, all eyes are going to be on me because I won in the previous year. That’s hard to deal with because everyone is expecting you to do well.”
He said this year’s team – and championship – will be cherished.
“This year’s team was super, super close,” he said. “This is the closest I have ever been with a group of guys. To be able to put my foot on the line for those guys and run for them with hopes of winning a state title has been amazing. It was the first year where I wanted to go out there and win for my team, not just for me. It’s been a super fun year.
Class 3A Championship Results (Boys): 1, Kevin Baez, Vanderbilt Industrial, 15:29.98; 2, Michael Urbina, Whitesboro; 3, Edwin Zamudio, Luling, 16:02.43. Tornillo runners: 14, Eduardo Carrillo, 16:52.47; 15, Ofir Ortega, 16:53.77; 55 Bryan Garcia, 17:59.62; 59, Michael Maney, 18:06.48; 64, Bryan Guzman, 18:15.48; 69, Heriberto Amaya, 18:19.27; 103, Tommy Montelongo, 19:41.14
Team results: 1, Eustace, 65; 2, Crane, 104; 3, Lytle, 144; 7, Tornillo, 207.
Mt. View junior Nicole Estrada was 90th in 13:10.28 (2 miles) in the girls 3A race. Anna Casey from Llano won gold in 11:39.78.