Pair of San Elizario runners, Tornillo thrower earn state medals

San Elizario teammates Edwin Gomez and Chris Moreno finished 1-2 in the Class 4A 800-meter run.

San Elizario senior Edwin Gomez had himself a day on Thursday winning gold in the Class 4A 800 and silver in the 3200 at the 2021 UIL State Championship at Mike Myers Stadium in Austin.

But the like the competitor he is, Gomez was far from satisfied.

“Honestly, my focus was not on the 2-mile,” he said. “I wanted to get a medal in the 800 and the mile. In the mile, I couldn’t handle the pace, I was really tired so I couldn’t get a medal in that one.”

Gomez finished fifth in the 1,600 in 4:25.33. Canyon senior Samuel Ashley won the event in 4:21.73.

“Not getting a medal in the mile was kind of a disappointing way to finish my senior year,” he said. “But I’m on to my next step, another level of competition so I can’t worry about it.”

Gomez will be running at Mike Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas as member of the Longhorns for the next four years.

“I felt like I was running my home track,” he said. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Gomez began the day early Thursday morning winning silver in the Class 4A 3200-meter run in a time of 9:33.66, .41 seconds behind the winner Hudson Bennett from Burnet who won the race in 9:33.25.

He followed that up in the afternoon with a gold in the 800-meter run in a time of 1:56.80. San Elizario sophomore Chris Moreno was second in 1:57.29. Mt. View senior Josh Gonzalez was sixth in 1:58.68.

Gomez has now won 15 state team and individual medals from cross country and track.

“I never thought this could happen,” he said. “I gave all the credit to my two coaches, Cesar Morales and Jorge Maese for the help they have given me throughout the years. I’m going to miss them and my teammates a lot.”

Gomez gave high praise to his teammate Moreno.

“I’m really happy that he was able to experience this with me and represent San Elizario,” he said. “I know that he is going to be awesome, he’s going to be better than me. I’m really happy for him; we made history together.”

This was the first time in school history that San Elizario had runners finish first and second in any event at the state level.

“It was a special moment,” Moreno said of his first state medal. “I wasn’t expecting to finish second. I was looking at the times before the race and they were all very fast so I was a little nervous.”

Moreno credits Gomez for pushing him to be better during practice.

“Me and Edwin are very competitive with each other,” Moreno said. “We give it our all in the races and at practices, too. I’m really going to miss spending time with him.”

Tornillo’s Lizbeth Fierro earned a silver medal in the Class 3A shot put.

Also earning a medal on Thursday was Tornillo senior Lizbeth Fierro who won silver in the Class 3A shot put.

Fierro had a personal best 38-feet, 1/4-inches on her first throw and then on her fourth attempt, let loose with a toss of 39-8 ¾, good enough for second place behind Bushland’s Jillian Howell (40-3 1/4).

Tornillo’s Angel Torres had fourth place finishes in the Class 3A 1,600 and 3,200.

Other El Paso results

Tornillo sophomore Angel Torres ended the day with a pair of fourth place finishes in the Class 3A 3,200 and 1,600.

In the two-mile race, he finished 9:40.54 – a new school record. The old record was held by Daniel Amaya in 2018 who ran a 9:48. The winner was Will Boyce from Onalaska who finished in 9:27.31.

Torres, who won the Region 1-3A mile, finished fourth in 4:30.52. Boyce won this event in 4:26.37.

In Class 4A Riverside high jumper Ian Valdez and Clint 300 hurdler Jesus Rocha just missed medals with fourth-place finishes.

Valdez finished fourth on a tiebreaker with a leap of 6-foot-4 while Rocha just missed a bronze medal, reaching the finish line in 38.87,  0.12 behind third.

Riverside’s Angel Munoz was ninth in that race in 41.22.

SURPRISE! Tornillo’s Lizbeth Fierro earns Class 3A silver in the shot put

Tornillo senior Lizbeth Fierro earned a silver medal in the Class 3A shot put at the UIL State Championship. She is coached by Frank Sapien.

Lizbeth Fierro’s journey to a silver medal in the Class 3A shot put is an unlikely one.

Perhaps one that would not have happened without the persistence of her coaches who never gave up on her.

The Tornillo senior surprised everyone – and we mean everyone – at the 2021 UIL State Track and Field Championship at Mike Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas on Thursday.

Fierro, a wild card selection to state, threw the shot put 39 feet 8.75 inches to earn her silver medal.

And the kicker?

She started throwing the shot put a month ago  – yes, one month ago.

“I was always playing volleyball, basketball and softball,” she said, giggling. “The coaches had been asking me to go out for track since I was a freshman but I couldn’t.  I was a softball player and the softball and track seasons are at the same time so I couldn’t do both.”

At the end of the softball season, Tornillo coaches Jesse Garcia and Frank Sapien asked her again.

“The coaches gave me the metal ball to see what I could do and I tossed it about 35 feet,” she said, again giggling. “They knew I could be good at it as long as I tried it.”

Fierro entered the state finals – only her fourth meet ever – as a sixth seed and eventually hit her silver mark in the fourth round. The winner was Jillian Howell, a junior at Bushland, with a toss of 40-3.25.

“At practice I’ve been throwing 41 (feet) so I know I could have done better,” she said with a sly laugh. “I was talking to the girls in the pit and they told me they’ve been training since 7th grade. When they asked when I started, they were all surprised when I told them just a month ago.”

Garcia was confident Fierro could do it.

“She’s a great athlete,” he said. “Everyone at school wanted to have a shot at working with her so track was always the last thing on her mind. Coach Sapien managed to talk to her and get her to give it a shot. Coach Sapien comes from a great program at Eastwood so he knows a thing or two about the shot put. He has passion for it and he did a great job with the time he had with her.”

Fierro acknowledges that there was more than a little luck in her earning a silver medal.

“It was little bit of beginner’s luck and a lot of work,” she said. “I wasn’t supposed to be here. At  regionals, I had an allergic reaction to something and I wasn’t at my best and finished third. My coach told I might or might not make it as a wild card but I was happy either way because at least I tried, I didn’t regret anything my senior year. On the bus ride back, the coaches told me I was wild card and I was headed to state.”

Fierro said she was happy with the outcome of her final high school competition.

“This is the best feeling ever,” she said. “I’ve been competing in sports most of my life. In other sports you have to work as a team but in this one, it’s all individual so you’re working for yourself which it makes it more difficult and satisfying at the same time.”