El Paso runners tame Region of Doom

State Championship Previews

Saturday: Tornillo boys.

Sunday: San Elizario boys.

Monday: Hanks boys.

Tuesday: Eastwood boys.

Wednesday: Franklin girls.

Thursday: Americas boys.

Friday: Individual qualifiers. Class 6A – Americas senior Mariana Guzman; Montwood junior Karyme Garcia, Coronado senior Nick Gonzalez and freshman Kyra Walker and Franklin senior Fernie Morales, Franklin. Class 5A – Jefferson sophomore Crystal Peterson and junior Melody Tsutsumi; Lauren Walls, sophomore, Eastwood; Eastlake sophomore Israel David and Angel Contreras, senior, Chapin. Class 4A- Mt. View junior Kayhla Talavera, senior Nicole Estrada and junior Joshua Gonzalez and Karina Gallegos, junior, San Elizario. Class 3A – Freshman, Kylene Elias, Tornillo.

Make Plans

What: UIL State Cross Country Championship.

When:  Saturday Nov. 9. All times (CST): Girls Class 3A, 10:50 a.m.; Boys Class 3A, 11:20 a.m.; Girls Class 4A, noon; Boys Class 4A, 12:30 p.m.; Girls Class 5A, 1:10 p.m.; Boys Class 5A, 1:50 p.m.; Girls Class 6A, 2:30 p.m.; Boys Class 6A, 3:10 p.m.

Where:  Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

At Stake: State team and individual titles.

Coronado senior Nick Gonzalez finished in fourth place, right in front of Americas senior Jacob Ye at the Region 1-6A championship.

On a cold, windy Monday morning, El Paso distance runners rose to the challenge of  what the Region 1 Cross Country Championship represents and owned the Region of Doom at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock.

Six teams – the boys squads from Americas, Eastwood, Hanks, San Elizario, Tornillo and the Franklin girls – and 15 individuals advanced to the UIL State Cross Country Championship next Saturday, Nov. 9 in Round Rock.

The Eastwood and San Elizario boys won Region 1 titles – Eastwood’s second consecutive crown – in Class 5A and Class 4A while Americas, Hanks and Tornillo each earned runner-up spots in Class 6A, Class 5A and Class 3A.

Franklin, out of Class 6A, are the only girl’s representative.

The top four teams and top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to the UIL Cross Country State Championship.

For the second year in a row, Americas has advanced to state. The team finished a program best, Region 1-6A runner up. Senior Mariana Guzman (lower right) also qualified to state.

Class 6A

For the second year in a row, Americas has advanced to state.

The Trailblazers placed three runners in the top 20 – Jacob Ye (fifth, 14:58.40), Hector Sanchez (ninth, 15:05.60) and Jared Laverty (16th, 15:22.50) – to earn 80 points, 20 points behind Regional Champ Southlake Carroll.

Other scoring runners were Aaron Saenz (22nd, 15:32.60) and Seth Andrade (28th, 15:37.80. The Trailblazers average time was 15:19.40.

Also advancing to state out of Region 1 are Lewisville Flower Mound (97 points) and Coppell (121).

Franklin was sixth with 245 points and Coronado was ninth with 283 points.

Individually, Coronado senior Nick Gonzalez accomplished his goal of a top five regional finish, completing the 3-mile course in 14:58.20, good for fourth place, El Paso’s top finish in Class 6A. This will be Gonzalez’s second trip to state.

Franklin senior Fernie Morales will race in his first state meet, finishing 20th in 15:23.40.

Morales will not be alone in his training in the next two weeks.

For the first time in Franklin history, the girl’s team has advanced to the state’s top race.

The Cougars – whose team is comprised of one junior, two sophomores and four freshman – placed fourth with 154 points to earn the bid.

For the first time in Franklin history, the girl’s team has advanced to the state’s top race.

Eva Jess, the lone junior, won the Region 1 title in 16:56.80.

The top five scorers ran sub 20s including Alyssa Laspada (34th, 19:13.00), Jenna Saunders (37th, 19:1820), Sophia Camacho (39th, 19:27.30) and Jordan Torres (43rd, 19:35.10).

Franklin was actually tied with Lewisville Marcus but its sixth runner Amanda Sotelo placed four spots better than the Marcus runner to give the Cougars the bid to state.

Southlake Carroll, Copell and Lewisville Flower Mound also advanced to state.

Other 6A girls to make state are Americas senior Mariana Guzman (14th, 18:14.40), Karyme Garcia, junior, Montwood (15th, 18:16.20) and Coronado freshman Kyra Walker (22nd, 18:33.80).

Americas was ninth with 246 points and Coronado was 10th with 280 points.

The Eastwood boys defended its Region 1 title and now look for its second straight Class 5A State championship.

Class 5A

 The Eastwood boys defended its Region 1 title and now look for its second straight Class 5A State championship.

The Troopers placed four runners in the top 10 – senior Elias Perez (fourth, 14:57.80), senior Juan Olmos (seventh, 15:11.50), junior Nathan Hernandez (eighth, 15:12.60) and junior Sergio Leon-Cuartas (tenth, 15:30.60) – to win with 57 points.

Junior Victor Parra was 28th in 15:55.90 to round out the top 5.

Eastwood’s average was 15:21.70.

Hanks was second with 84 points, Grapevine was third with 91 and Aledo was fourth with 167 points.

In the individual race, seniors Graydon Morris from Aledo and Hanks senior Michael Abeyta put on another show. Morris won the individual title in 14:32.30 while Abeyta was second in 14:35.10. Hanks senior Rodger Rivera, Hanks, 14:51.30.

Other scoring runners for the Knights were Alejandro Tarin (22nd, 15:33.70), Omar Munoz (27th, 15:55.70) and Gael Alvarado (30th, 15:57.40)

Hanks finished second in the the Region 1-5A race and will be advance to state.

Also advancing are Grapevine and Aledo.

Eastlake sophomore Israel David was fifth in 14:59.10 and Chapin senior Angel Contreras was 14th in 15:32.00 to advance to state for the second straight year.

Burges was seventh with 236 points, Chapin was 12th with 302 points, Horizon was 15th with 388 points and El Paso High was 17th with 433 points.

On the girl’s side Jefferson sophomore Crystal Peterson and Eastwood sophomore Lauren Walls-Portillo are making return trips to state. Peterson was seventh in 18:17.70 and Walls-Portillo was tenth in 18:26.60. Racing in her first state meet will be junior Melody Tsutsumi who was 23rd regionals (19:07.60).

Eastwood just missed out on a second straight state appearance finishing fifth with 133 points. Advancing to state out of Region 1 will be Grapevine, Canyon Randall, Colleyville Heritage and Amarillo.

Jefferson was sixth with 141 points, Burges eighth with 250, Eastlake 12th with 346, Canutillo 16th with 386 points and Del Valle 18th with 441 points.

The San Elizario Eagles retained the top spot at Regionals, winning with 64 points and will advance to the state meet for the sixth year in a row.

Class 4A

The San Elizario Eagles retained the top spot at Regionals, winning with 64 points and will advance to the state meet for the sixth year in a row.

After winning four Regionals in row, the Eagles finished third last year.

San Elizario had three runners in the 10 – Edwin Gomez (second, 14:53.50), Rene Arambula (ninth, 15:55.00) and Dilan Sanchez (tenth, 15:55.60) and five in the top 25 – Irvin Vazquez (19th, 16:19.40) and Alan Ceballos (24th, 16:26.70).

Decatur was second with 68 points, Andrews was third with 92 and Canyon was fourth with 121 points.

Fabens finished 10th with 336 points and Clint was 23rd with 593 points.

Also advancing to state is Mt. View junior Joshua Gonzalez (14th, 16:09.50).

For the girls, a pair of Mt. View runners – junior Kayhla Talavera and senior Nicole Estrada – and San Elizario junior Karina Gallegos advanced to state.

Mt. View junior Kayhla Talavera, senior Nicole Estrada and junior Joshua Gonzalez are Class 4A state qualifiers.

Talavera was fourth in the 2-mile race, finishing in 12:05.50, Estrada was 10th in 12:18.50 and Gallegos was 28th in 12:49.20. Estrada raced in last year’s state meet.

Canyon won the event with 47 points followed by Argyle with 89, Hereford was third with 97 and Decatur was fourth with 109 points.

San Elizario was the top county school finishing 11th with 314 points followed by Mt. View with 321 for 12th place and Clint was 17th with 469 points.

Tornillo had a pair of Region 1-3A champions – freshman Kylene Elias and senior Ofir Ortega.

Class 3A

The big news coming out of Tornillo is freshman Kylene Elias who won the Region 1 championship, racing the two-mile course in 11:57.60.

She is believed to be the first female runner to win the Region out of Tornillo.

To make matters more interesting, she raced the majority of the race with only one shoe.

Holliday won the title with 102 points followed by Wall (148), Presidio (184) and Abernathy (215) – all state qualifiers.

Tornillo was seventh with 250 points. Sophomores Wendy Garcia (19th, 12:53.60) and Olivia Garcia (22nd, 12:58.20) had top 25 performances.

About 30 minutes after the girls race, senior Ofir Ortega went out and won the boy’s race in 16:06.00, propelling the Coyotes to a second place regional finish with 85 points.

Presidio won the event, one point ahead of Tornillo.

Tonillo’s next four – Bryan Guzman (18th, 17:15.40), Bryan Garcia (19th, 17:16.00), Michael Maney (23rd, 17:18.30) and Angel Torres (24th, 17:19.70) – all had top 25 runs.

Crane was third with 134 points and Boyd was fourth with 137.

This is the tenth time in 11 years the Coyotes have qualified for the state championship.


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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