When you watch Franklin senior Allyson “Ally” Little run cross country, you would think she has been running all her life.
In sense, she has.
But most of her running was the explosive, high-intensity runs, the kind of sprints you would expect from a soccer player – not the long, melodic, tempo-paced runs of a distance runner.
There is a reason for that. Ever since she could walk, Little has played soccer.
And she has excelled at it, too, earning first-team El Paso Times and All District 1-6A honors as a midfielder in a COVID-19-shortend 2020 season.
In her three years on the varsity, Little scored 19 goals and assisted on 10 others for the Franklin Cougars.
Last summer, her club team, the FC U18 Rage, qualified for the U.S. Youth Soccer National Presidents Cup by winning a regional tournament in Round Rock.
It is the first time an El Paso team had qualified for the national tournament in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
But simply qualifying was not enough as FC Rage defeated the Central California Aztecs 2-1 in the championship to win the Presidents Cup.
This summer, with the coronavirus outbreak crippling the country, Little shifted her focus from soccer to distance running, a sport where social distancing is never a problem. A sport Little had never tried.
Little – who is one of only two seniors on the squad – made an already dominate team, even stronger, quickly becoming one of the team’s low-stick runners, consistently finishing behind University of Texas commit Eva Jess.
“It’s been fun to be a part of this team and to be able to help win a title,” she said after finishing third at Saturday’s District 1-6A championship. “It’s been an amazing season. I have an amazing team that pushes me and an amazing coach who designs the workouts for us to have a chance to do great.”
Franklin won its third consecutive District 1-6A team title, scoring 28 points.
Little owns the third fastest 3-mile time in the city posting a 18:39.33 at the Haskins Recreation Center course on Oct. 3.
“Playing soccer has helped me because of all the running I’ve done in that sport,” she said. “Every week I’ve tried to get better.”
Little tasted the running bug last spring when she ran the 800 and the 4X4 relay for Franklin’s track team.
“My soccer coach agreed to let me run three meets during my bye weeks,” Little said. “That’s when I fell in love with running. When I run, it gives me an adrenaline rush.”
Little is surprised by how well the season has gone for her.
“I learned that I can really push myself,” she said. “Being surrounded by such amazing teammates and a coach who is always encouraging us made me realize that I can do this.”
The Cougars are on to the Region 1, Class 6A Cross Country Championship on Nov. 10 at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock, with an opportunity to advance to its second consecutive state championships.
“I’m really looking forward to regionals,” Little said. “The team mentioned a few things about it like how we have to be mentally prepared and be together as pack to help us succeed.”
TAPPS State Championship
Cathedral finished one point away from reaching the podium at the TAPPS, Class 6A Cross Country Championship on Monday in Hewitt.
The Fighting Irish scored 102 points, just one point behind San Antonio’s Central Catholic High School for the bronze medal.
Cathedral had four runners in the top 20 – Luis Gomez (14th, 17:24.9), Bernard Martinez (15th, 17:25.9), Elijah Noble (16th, 17.:30) and Dylan John Lorilla (20th, 17:32.1).
San Antonio Antonian won the state title with 38 points and Houston’s St. Thomas was second with 59 points.
The Loretto Academy girls also competed in Class 6A and finished 12th with 326 points. The Angels were led by Mariah and Britney Martinez, who finished 56th and 57th overall.
District 3-4A Championship
Tornillo sophomore Kylene Elias defended her District 3-4A individual crown racing the 2-mile course in 14:04.94 Saturday afternoon in Presidio.
Also finishing in the top 10 for Tornillo were freshman Nataly Escajeda (fourth, 15:34.72) and junior Olivia Garcia (eighth, 15:48.02).
Presidio won the team title with 43 points followed by Tornillo (50) and Kermit (56).
Presidio and Tornillo will advance to the Region 1, Class 3A Cross Country Championship on Nov. 9 at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock.
The Tornillo boys will advance to regionals after placing second, missing out on the district championship by three points.
Presidio won the event with 32 points, Tornillo was second with 35 points and Alpine was a distant third with 72 points.
Tornillo placed three runners in the top 10 – freshman Daniel Romero (second, 17:19.75), sophomore Angel Torres (third, 17:28.88) and senior Bryan Garcia (fifth, 17:45.78).