The Franklin Cougars won triple gold at Saturday’s Jefferson/Burges Invitational at Chamizal National Memorial Park.
Both boys and girl’s teams won easily and junior Eva Jess won the girl’s individual title in 18:35.71 to run her win streak to seven consecutive meets.
Hanks senior Michael Abeyta won the individual gold for the boys, finishing in 15:30.93.
Franklin’s girls finished with three runners in the top 10 to win with 50 points. In addition to Jess, freshman Alyssa Laspada was seventh in 20:27.77 and sophomore Jordan Torres was tenth in 20:49.50.
Jefferson was second with 74 points and Montwood was third with 135.
“I didn’t expect our team to be this solid,” Jess said. “It’s crazy to be able to do this with four freshmen and now it looks like we have a shot to get to state. I know we’re going to have to definitely work but at least we have a shot, that’s incredible.”
For the past two years, Jess has been the lone representative from Franklin to reach the UIL State Cross Country Championship.
“I talk to them a lot about what it takes to prepare for the meets,” she said. “We talk about how important a good warm up is and good cool down is essential and we have to do it no matter what.”
Saturday’s race on the district course gave the runners an indication of what to expect on Oct. 19 as the teams attempt to qualify for the Region 1 championships in Lubbock.
“For the freshmen, it’s the first time they’ve ever run this course,” Jess said. “Its nice for the freshmen to know how this course runs, when to push on the hills so this is great experience for them before we run district in a few weeks.”
Montwood’s Karyme Garcia was second in 19:34.58, Jefferson’s Crystal Peterson was third (19:58.49), teammate Melody Tsutsumi was fourth (20:04.71), Alexa Rangel from Montwood was fifth (20:14.94), Coronado’s Sophia Flores was sixth in 20:23.68, Laspada was seventh, Coronado freshman Kyra Walker was eighth (20:38.57), Annette Guzman from Burges was ninth (20:49.22) and Torres was tenth.
“Throughout the year, we’ve worked really hard in practice but we have a lot of fun after,” Laspada said. “At races, we are focused and after the race, we’ll have fun.”
Laspada, whose father, Anthony Laspada, is Franklin’s head coach, said she expected good things to happen to this group of girls.
“My dad, our coach, works very hard to prepare us and for our team to be the best we can be,” she said. “He has had really big hopes and dreams for us all season. We are buying into what he is teaching us. We are putting in all of our effort, we really believe we can do it.”
Click here for complete girl’s results.
As peculiar as it might sound, Abeyta needed a little bit of self-motivation after finishing 19th at the Nike Desert Twilight Cross County Festival at Casa Grande, Ariz. last week.
After easily winning on Saturday, Abeyta feels a lot better about himself.
“Last week I did not have a good performance at all,” he said. “I have to say it was probably my worst performance in my history of racing. After that race, I had to reevaluate who I am and the runner I want to be. I had to remember what got me here in the first place. It was pretty tough for me this past week, there were moments when I questioned if I really wanted to keep running. I told myself, ‘No, I can’t quit now, I’ve come so far, why would I stop?’”
He found himself again, on a familiar course, feeling right at home crossing the finish line 35 seconds ahead of Santa Teresa’s Angel Anchondo (16:05.34). Coronado’s Nick Gonzalez was third (16:09.93), Franklin’s Fernie Morales was fourth in 16:12.48 and Edwin Gomez from San Elizario was fifth in 16:24.76.
“I had PR (personal record) for this course,” he said. “I feel good again, I just have to make sure I’m mentally and physically ready, I’m still not where I want to be but I’ll be ready.”
The Franklin boys took care of business scoring 85 points with two runners – Morales and Daniel Kennedy (eighth, 16:50.21) – in the top 10.
Coronado was second with 109 points and Santa Teresa was third with 113.
Rounding out the top 10 were Eastlake’s Israel David (sixth, 16:44.26), Chapin’s Angel Contreras (seventh, 16:49.68), Coronado’s Corey DuBrule (eighth, 16:52.73) and Hanks sophomore Gael Alvarado (tenth, 17:04.68).
Click here for complete boy’s results.