On Saturday, Angie Lujan-Marrufo ran away with her fourth individual championship of 2020 at the Canutillo/Anthony Invitational.
The Parkland High School senior completed the course at Canutillo Middle School in 19:56.37, well ahead of Coronado teammates Kyra Walker (21:12.59) and Alexa Lawrence (21:26.33).
The T-Birds won the team championship with 45 points, followed by Clint (81), Del Valle (83), Parkland (131) and Riverside (150).
Filling out the top 10 were Annette Guzman, Burges (21:28.37), Janice Olivas, Clint, (21:56.31), Ivy Lara, Canutillo (21:59.18), Natalie Rivera, Canutillo (22:02.78), Vanessa Preciado, Canutillo, (22:03.36), Vivian Zapata, Clint (22:05.75) and Emily Antimo, Burges (22:10.40).
Entering week four of the cross-country season, Lujan-Marrufo owns the city’s second best 5K/3-mile time turning in a 19:12.42 at Veterans Park on Sept. 26.
Her success is quite amazing considering it was only two years ago when she began to take distance training seriously.
“I’ve been running cross country since middle school, but it wasn’t until the summer before my sophomore year when I started to train properly,” she said. “I thought cross country was running forever and ever. I really didn’t put much thought into it until then.”
It was the summer of 2018 when she began working out with Sarah Austin, Abriyah Skull, and Janae Ramirez, members of the Wings summer club team.
“I grew a love for distance that summer,” she said. “Running with new people and getting their perspective on distance running helped. They were really devoted to cross country which gave me an appreciation for distance. Training with them, I didn’t want to feel like the slacker of the group, so I put in a little more effort.”
Lujan-Marrufo, who was already a top USATF 800-runner in her age group, began to train properly.
“I started doing the things that I was supposed to be doing,” she said. “I love cross country now. I really love it. Hearing stories about what other girls have accomplished ahead of me made me want to be a part of that history.”
At last year’s District 2-5A Championship Lujan-Marrufo was third in 20:42.54 and ended her junior cross-country season in 53rd place (19:57.30) at the Region 1-5A Championship.
“I never knew I could run as fast I am right now,” she said. “I thought I would be running low 20s or high 19s but now I know what I’m capable of with training and hard work. I want to break 18.”
She knows a sub 18 is within her reach.
“In the past, I relied too much on my talent,” she said. “Even through someone has talent, it’s not a reason why they shouldn’t work harder, and I took that personally.”
Strangely, when track competition was cancelled in the spring due to the coronavirusLujan-Marrufo did not have any hard feelings.
“I didn’t feel bad about it,” she said. “I was actually looking forward to cross country even more. But as time went on, I wasn’t really sure there was going to be a cross-country season, so I wasn’t training at all. I would go on a two-mile run and I would be so tired, I was so out of shape.”
She is looking at the season as an opportunity to showcase the work she has put in the past two years.
“I lost part of my track season my junior year and I knew this would be my last year so I had to give it my all,” she said.
She looks to her mother, Sandra Lujan, for motivation.
“She’s really into my running life,” she said. “She is the one who tells me about my competition and what other people are running. She’s a real cross country and track mom. She always has these dreams of me running in college and going pro. I just want to make her happy and proud.”
Because of COVID-19 protocols, the UIL is not allowing cross country meets to exceed six teams so many of this season’s races are small.
In two weeks, Lujan-Marrufo is scheduled to run the Vista Hills Invitational against a few of the city’s top girl’s teams including No. 2 Montwood and No. 3 Eastwood.
“That’s one meet I’m really preparing for,” she said. “I get to run against Lauren (Eastwood’s Lauren Walls-Portillo). We’re good friends, we ran on the same club team. I remember at district last year she was so far ahead of me. I always imagined being up there with her. My goal for that meet is to stay close and hopefully pass her if I have the right training. We’ll see how it goes.”
For now, Lujan-Marrufo is happy, flashing that gold medal smile after every race.
“I’ve come to learn that no matter where you are in your training, there is always room for improvement, always room to work harder,” she said. “I’m really happy with the times that I’ve been running. Just to see how far I’ve come in these three years has been amazing. I never knew that I could be doing what I am right now.”
The future is bright for Lujan-Marrufo who hopes pandemic conditions improve enough to have a spring track season.
She is keeping her college options open for now.
“I’ve been in contact with a few colleges, mostly with NMSU and Texas State,” she said. “I’m not too sure as to where I want to go. I don’t want to go too far. I’m keeping my options open. I’m just taking it slow and so what happens during track season.”
On the boy’s side of the Canutillo/Anthony Invitational, Coronado took the first three spots and four out of the top 10.
Luis Pastor picked up his second varsity win (16:47.00) followed by Corey Dubrule (17:06.18) and
Sam Breceda (17:07.90). Stephen Pitchkolan was tenth in 17:49.00.
Filling out the top 10 were – Riverside’s Andrew Valdiviezo (fourth, 17:16.0), Del Valle’s Miguel Avila (fifth, 17:20.65), Canutillo’s Danovan Estrada (sixth, 17:23.96), Burges’ Dylan Walker (seventh, 17:26.78), teammate Julian Maldonado (eighth, 17:43.56) and Parkland’s Kenneth Goldstone Lamar (tenth, 17:46.52).
Desert Twilight (San Tan Valley, Ariz.)
The Eastwood boys won the high school Sweepstakes Division of the Desert Twilight XC Festival in San Tan Valley, Ariz. with 53 points and San Elizario was fourth with 162 points.
The Troopers had five runners in the top 14 lead by Sergio Leon Cuartas who was third in 15:15.53. Eastwood had runners take the 11-14 spots including Aaron Perez (11th, 15:51.02), Isaac Mendoza (12th, 15:52.26), Victor Anchondo (13th, 15:55.35) and Victor Parra (14th, 15:57.58)
San Elizario had two runners in the top six – Edwin Gomez, (5th, 15:36.48) and Dilan Sanchez (6th, 15:40.33).
Bel Air was 15th in the boy’s Championship Division. William Moreno was the Highlanders top runner, finishing 30th in 17:27.16.
Eastwood’s Lauren Walls-Portillo was 10th in the girl’s high school Sweepstakes Division finishing in 18:14.62.
The Eastwood girls placed fourth in the high school Championship race with 132 points and Bel Air was 12th with 288 points.
Amber Martin lead the Troopers, placing 13th in 20:40.65 while Bel Air’s Abagail Murillo was 23rd in 21:00.46.
Franklin Invitational (Haskins Rec Center)
The Franklin girlstook the first seven spots in route to a perfect score (15 points).
Franklin was again led by Eva Jess (first, 18:16.91), who gave her verbal commitment to the University of Texas at Austin on Friday night.
Ally Little was second in 18:39.33, Alyssa Laspada third in 19:14.63, Jenna Saunders was fourth in 19:43.31; Jordan Torres (fifth, 19:56.30), Michele Paillard (sixth, 20:04.58) and Sofia Camacho (seventh, 20:27.05). Amanda Sotelo was ninth for Franklin (21:06.85).
Jefferson’s Crystal Peterson was eighth in 20:45.57 and teammate Monique Correa was 10th in 21:09.61.
The Foxes placed second overall with 62 points followed by Americas with 63.
On the boy’s side, Americas junior Jared Laverty won his first varsity meet, leading the Trailblazers to a team championship in 16:02.13.
Americas runners took the first four spots and five of the top 8 including Michael Mier (second, 16:06.82), Aaron Saenz (third, 16:08.66), Carmelo Corral (fourth, 16:25.95) and Jesse Morales (eighth, 17:26.45).
The Trailblazers scored 18 points followed by Franklin (37) and Valle Verde (85).
Cougar runners make up the remaining five spots in the top 10 led by Rai Lopez (fifth, 16:43.41), Matthew Engle (sixth, 16:54.70), Andres Buckley (seventh, 17:14.12), Diego Flores (ninth, 17:36.02) and Octavio Trujillo (tenth, 17:41.92).
Cathedral/Loretto Invitational (Veterans Park)
A pair of sophomore runners – Tornillo’s Kylene Elias and Pebble Hills’ Omer Ibrahim – continued their early season success taking individual titles at the Cathedral/Loretto Invitational at Veterans Park.
Elias won in 20:19.07 and lead the Coyotes to a team championship with 32 points. Pebble Hills was second with 36 followed Loretto (55), Young Women’s Leadership (100) and Ysleta, (120).
Including Elias, Tornillo had four runners in the top 10 – Nat Escajeda (seventh, 21:46.43), Olivia Garcia (eighth, 21:51.64) and Brianna Ibarra (tenth, 22:16.78).
Carolina Zarrabal (second, 20:23.25) and Natalie Franco (sixth, 21:42.67), led Pebble Hills.
Other top 10 runners were three Eastwood athletes – Victoria Ovalles (third, 20:31.75), Hannah Tellez (fifth, 21:40.42) and Monica Hagerich (ninth, 22:00.66).
Loretto senior Britney Martinez was fourth in 21:37.76.
Ibrahim won his second invitational this season turning in a 15:39.22.
The Tornillo boys won the team title with 21 points. Pebble Hills was second with 34 points and Ysleta was third with 75.
The Coyotes had four runners in the top 7 – Angel Torres (second, 16:28.74), Bryan Garcia (third, 16:45.10), Daniel Romero (fifth, 17:04.62) and Bryan Guzman (seventh, 17:19.62).
Other top 10 runners were Andress’ Jarrett Ketchmark (fourth, 16:53.88), Eastwood’s Joaquin Chavez (sixth, 17:17.31) and Anthony Casillas (eighth, 17:27.82), Pebble Hills’ Noah Castorena (ninth, 17:35.96) and Anthony Soto from Fabens (tenth, 17:37.36).
Eastlake Invitational (SAC)
Please bear with us on this one. The results were difficult to obtain and are still not confirmed. There also seems to be issues with timing and placement.
From what we were able to gather, the two individual winners were Horizon’s Andrea Villagomez (19:08:50.0) and Hanks’ Gael Alvarado (15:43.4).
It appears the El Paso High girls won the team event with 20 points followed by Hanks (37) and Horizon (61).
El Paso High placed four girls in the top 10 – Alissa Kennedy (third, 19:55.4), Jezarae Valenzuela (fourth, 19:59.9), Shayla Cohen Jones (fifth, 20:02.8) and Vivian Shaheen (tenth, 22:15.1).
The Knights had three in the top 10 including runner-up Mia Rivera (19:40:00.0), Madison Spencer (seventh, 20:47.0) and Jade Baca (ninth, 21:19.3).
Rounding out the top 10 were Austin’s Mora Montes (sixth, no time reported) and Horizon’s Jaquelin Gonzalez (eight, 21:17.6).
On the boy’s side, Hanks won the team title with 31 points followed by El Paso High with 39 and Horizon with 52.
The Knights place four in the top 10 – Alvarado, Alejandro Tarin (second, 15:45.2), Michael Antuna (seventh, 16:29.2) and Andres Garcia (tenth, 17:42.3).
El Paso High’s top runners were Josep Ferret (third, 15:48.4), David Ramirez (fourth, 16:04.4) and Leo Valenzuela (eighth, 17:00.8).
Rounding out the top 10 are Austin’s Jose Nilo (fifth, no time reported), and two Horizon runners Ivan Hernandez (sixth, 16:19.8) and Yahir Barrios (ninth, 17:20.1).