Americas boys; Franklin girls continue winning ways; Jess and Gonzalez pick up individual honors

NE RegionalBoys
The Americas boys won its fourth meet of the season while the Franklin girls continued its unbeaten streak at the Parkland/Riverside Invitational.

There is something special happening this season with the Americas High School boy’s cross country team.

Coming off the Trailblazers first ever Class 6A UIL State Cross Country appearance as a team, Americas has appeared to have improved, winning all but one meet this fall.

And they are doing it with different parts.

On a wet Saturday morning at the Northeast Regional Park, the team easily won the Parkland/Riverside Invitational with 36 points.

Americas placed all five of its scoring runners in the top 10 with Jacob Ye leading the way with a second-place finish in 15:22.23.

Coronado senior Nick Gonzalez won his fourth race of the season in 15:19.21 3, Fernando Morales from Franklin was third in 15:23.42, Chapin’s Angel Contreras was fourth in 15:29.51 and Franklin’s Daniel Kennedy was fifth in 15:35.20.

“We’re real happy with the first part of the season,” said Kenny Lucero, Americas’ head coach. “The key is to hold it all together till the end of the season. Right now, everybody seems to be getting a little stronger and we’re getting healthier.”

After Coronado’s Alan Alba finished sixth (15:35.77) the pack-running Trailblazers finished in the next four spots – Aaron Saenz seventh in 15:36.45, Hector Sanchez, eighth in 15:36.89, Jared Laverty, ninth in 15:38.00 and Gage Garcia, tenth in 15:44.35.

“We have been working really hard,” Lucero said. “They have a goal; they know what their mission is and they know what they have to do, so I like where we’re at.”

The beauty of this Americas team, which is ranked No. 10 in Class 6A by Texas MilesSplit, is on any given race day, a different runner will step up to lead the team.

“Every race is different and not every guy is going to feel their best and when you have the guys working together as a team and trying to keep it tight, other guys are going to feel a little better and they are going to pick up the slack,” Lucero said. It’s good to have guys who work so hard together who can help each other out in races.”

Americas is gearing up for a solid second half of the season.

“The way our training is designed is for us to get faster as we get closer to championship season,” he said. “We have a couple of big out-of-town meets leading up to championship season. We are expected to get a little faster against better competition at sea level so that will help the kid’s confidence to see where they stand with other teams from the state.”

Coronado’s Gonzalez, Ye from Americas and Morales from Franklin were a tight lead pack from start to finish on this flat asphalt and desert course and ended the race within four seconds of each other.

“I want to keep on going as far as possible and keep putting up good times,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve been getting the first places but I have to focus on getting my times down. Luckily, I think I dropped my time today by 8 seconds.”

Coronado senior Nick Gonzalez and Franklin senior Fernie Morales went toe-toe at Northeast Regional Park on Saturday. Gonzalez won in 15:19.21 and Morales was third in 15:23.42.

He said he is not concerned about peaking too season.

“My body is doing fine,” he said. “I feel like I’m on the climb right now. I feel that each practice that I go through gets easier and easier and each run seems like I’m pushing more and more.”

On the girl’s side, the story of the season is the young Franklin Cougars who continue to simply win.

Junior Eva Jess won her fifth individual championship as did the Cougars who finished 1-4-6-8 and 15 to score 34 points. Americas was second with 61 points and Coronado third with 63.

“In my first few meets I ran really well, the times were well under what I ran in the past,” she said. “This meet I think I ran slower because I caught a cold during the week so it was really hard to breath but other than that, I’m happy with my times and I’m happy with my places, you can’t ask for anything else.”

Jess won the event in 17:51.64.

Americas senior Mariana Guzman was second in 18:27.33 followed by Coronado freshman Kyra Walker who was third in 19:10.54.

Franklin’s top 10 runners include Jess, Alyssa Laspada (fourth, 19:14.39), Jordan Torres (sixth, 19:22.69) and Jenna Saunders (eighth, 19:28.70).

“I’m the oldest this year which is crazy because I’ve always been the youngest on the team,” Jess said. “I’m so proud of them. They are killing it as freshmen; they are killing it as sophomores, we’re going to continue doing great this year.”

Other top 10 runners were Daphne Duran, Americas (fifth, 19:20.73), Sophia Flores, Coronado (seventh, 19:26.24), Abigail Murillo, Bel Air (ninth, 19:29.39) and Elizabeth Hernandez, Austin (tenth, 19:37.63).

Franklin junior Eva Jess won her fifth individual championship at the Northeast Regional Park.

Jess said she does not mind taking the leadership role for Franklin.

“I’m team captain for the girls team this year,” she said. “There’s more pressure but I like that responsibility. I like being able to give the girls some wisdom and help them out during the races and at practice.”

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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