District roundup: Several championship streaks continue

Who advanced?

The top three teams from each district and the top 10 individuals make it to the Region 1 Cross Country Championships, Oct. 25 in Lubbock.

The following teams and runners have advanced:

Boys

Class 6A: Eastwood, Americas and Franklin. Also, Omer Ibrahim, Pebble Hills; Israel David, Eastlake; Luis Pastor, Coronado and Sam Breceda, Coronado.       

Class 5A: Burges, Horizon, El Paso High, Hanks, Chapin. Bel Air. Also, Michael Castorena, Parkland; Efren Moncada, Parkland; Isai Barajas, Ysleta; Venancio Calderon, El Dorado and Omar Rivera, Canutillo

Class 4A: San Elizario, Riverside, Valle Verde Early College.

Class 3A: Tornillo.

Girls

Class 6A: Franklin, Eastwood, Coronado. Also, Kassandra Jimenez, Montwood; Alexa Rangel, Montwood; Lexee Salas, Americas and Natalia Martinez, Pebble Hills. 

Class 5A: Jefferson, Del Valle,Burges, Canutillo, El Paso High and Hanks. Also, Elizabeth Hernandez, Austin; Sarah Lopez Touchy, Ysleta; Jaylee Levario, Bel Air; Abigail Murillo, Bel Air.

Class 4A: San Elizario, Riverside and Young Women’s Leadership Academy. Also, Madelaine Estrada, Mt. View and Ileana Maldonado, Clint.

Class 3A: Tornillo.

Several district championship win streaks in 4A, 5A and 6A continued for several teams on a crisp Saturday morning at Vista Hills Country Club.

The Eastwood boys won its 11th straight district championship and the Franklin girls won its fourth in 1-6A; the Burges boys won its fifth in 1-5A; the Jefferson girls won its fourth 1-5A title in a row and the San Elizario boys pulled off its eighth consecutive district title in 1-4A.

Also, Hanks senior Gael Alvarado defended his District 2-5A championship and in doing so, ran the Knights streak of eight individual titles.

The top three teams and top 10 individuals from each district will advance to the Region 1 Cross Country Championship, Oct. 25.

Here are some highlights from Saturday’s races.

District 1-6A

The Troopers had three runners in the top 10 – Isaac Mendoza (fourth, 16:53.39), Andres Gurrola (fifth, 17:03.60) and Devon Paez (seventh, 17:30.92) – to win its 11th district championship in a row with 43 points.

Americas – led by seniors Jared Laverty (sixth, 17:20.98) and Carmelo Corral (tenth, 17:38.73) was second with 71 points and Franklin was third with 75 points. Junior Diego Flores was the low-point man for Franklin, finishing eighth in 17:34.67.

“We had a really hard week of workouts,” said Eastwood coach Mike McLain. “The goal really wasn’t to run well today (Saturday), our goal is to run well next week (regionals) and the week after (state) so I wasn’t expecting them to look great today.”

Eastwood is also on an 11-year unbeaten streak in El Paso.

“No team, in any sport, has done what these guys have done,” McLain said. “This is national-caliber team; and they had a tough task this year. We only one of our top five guys come back from last year. They really shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing.”

Pebble Hills’ Omer Ibrahim won the individual championship for the first time. He won in a time of 16:14.28. Eastlake’s Israel David was second (16:20.88) and Coronado’s Luis Pastor was third (16:30.12). 

Pebble Hills’ Omer Ibrahim won the individual championship District 1-6A followed Eastlake’s Israel David Coronado’s Luis Pastor was third. This is photo from the Del Valle Invitational.

“It was lot of fun,” Ibrahim said. “It was a strong race, my best race so far actually. There as strong competition. No one really took control of the race until the end. It was one of the most fun and competitive races I’ve been in.”

The Franklin girls had three runners in the top 10 – Alyssa Laspada (third, 20:19.80), Jordan Torres            (fourth, 20:47.72) and Sofia Camacho (sixth, 21:03.75)for 35 points and its fourth straight district crown.

Eastwood was second with 45 points and Coronado was third with 83 points.

“When kids put this much effort in and when they buy in, you’ll definitely have a good outcome,” Franklin coach Anthony Laspada said. “I’m really proud of what the girls have done without Eva (Jess) and Ally (Little). We had kids who stepped it up this year and filled in for one another.”

Jess and Little were the top two runners for Franklin last year. Both are now on scholarship at the University of Texas at Austin.

“The girls are so close and so tightly bonded, it really does make a difference,” Laspada said. “They really believed in each other and they went out and did it. I’m so proud of them.”

Eastwood took the top two individual spots with senior Lauren Walls-Portillo winning her first district title in 19:22.89 and freshman Adelynn Rodriguez finished second in 19:38.28.

“Of course my goal and expectation is to win, but I also wanted to get ahead so I could pull my team with me so they could see where I was so I could drive them to go up with me,” Walls-Portillo said.

Walls-Portillo was also happy for her freshman teammate.

“We are a lot alike,” Walls-Portillo said. “We have the motivation and the well to drive and push for our team. We are determined to work hard to make our team better. I want her to be bigger and better than me.”

District 1-5A

The Jefferson girls and Burges boys each added another district championship to their respective trophy cases – the fourth in a row for Jefferson and Burges’ fifth consecutive.

Jefferson’s girls scored 26 points placing four runners in the top six positions Crystal Peterson (second, 21:30.21), Monique Correa (third, 21:58.13), Camila Prieto, (fourth, 22:18.22) and Sofia Hernandez (sixth, 22:52.86).

Burges was second with 45 points and El Paso High was third with 66 points.

Burges senior Pamela Ramirez won the district championship in 20:47.09.

“Being able to train a full year really helped,” said Ramirez, who was district runner-up last year despite not competing in any pre-district meets. “Going to practice every day made me stronger and faster. Last year my best time was 19:37, this year it was 18:15 so that’s a big improvement.”

The Burges boys easily defended its fifth consecutive district championship scoring 28 points.

El Paso High was second with 49 points and Chapin was third with 64 points.

Burges took four of the top six spots including the first two with senior Julian Maldonado winning his first district championship in 18:17.19 followed bysenior David Herrera (18:29.97). Junior was fifth in Matthew Guerra (18:56.09) and senior Aaron Gomez was sixth in 18:57.39.

“That was a really tough race,” Maldonado said. “We started hill training early in the season because we knew that it would be important for the courses we would see at districts and regionals. Last year’s seniors told us we had to keep this tradition going, so winning another district championship is a big deal for us.”

The Horizon boys won its first district title since 2008

District 2-5A

The boys and girls team results in District 2-5A had the most intrigue with two surprise champions – the Del Valle girls and the Horizon boys.

Del Valle won for the first time since 2010 by placing three runners in the top six – junior Valeria Loo-Kung (second, 21:57.39), senior Anisa Sanchez (third, 22:13.11) and senior Disany Sandoval (sixth, 22:22.26).

Canutillo was second with 51 points and Hanks was third with 60 points.

The Horizon boys won its first district title since 2008, scoring 68 points.

Hanks was second with 73 points and Bel Air was third with 86 points.

The Scorpions had three senior runners in the top 10 – Juan Linares (fifth, 18:41.57), Yahir Barrios (ninth, 19:03.22) and Santiago Cadena (10th, 19:05.45). Four of the seven are first-time runners.

What wasn’t surprising were the individual winners – Hanks senior Mia Rivera and Hanks senior Gael Alvarado who defending his title in 17:44.39.

Junior teammate Alejandro Tarin was second in 17:44.39 and Parkland junior Michael Castorena was third in 18:11.29.

“It feels very surreal,” Alvarado said of his back-to-back district titles. “Winning it last year wasn’t a huge deal but this year I had a lot of pressure so it feels awesome to win it back to back.”

Alvarado is the eighth consecutive Knight to win the individual title.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “It would be nice to continue the streak even longer. I know my teammates Alex (Tarin) will continue it next year, I have no doubt about that.”

Rivera won her first district championship in 21:47.43.

“This is all new to me,” Rivera said of being district champ. “Coming into my senior year I just wanted to enjoy my last season of cross country and go with the flow, and I ended up coming on top so that’s pretty crazy.” 

Del Valle won district for the first time since 2010.

District 1-4A

San Elizario swept the boys and girls district championships.

It was the eighth District 1-4A for the boys – the defending Class 4A state champions.

“I still get nervous,” said Cesar Morales, San Elizario’s head coach. “Our goals never change and district is the first step before we can move forward. We knew Riverside is a great team and they’ve been very close to us the entire season in both the boys and girls so we knew we had to run well.”

The Eagle were dominate, scoring 22 points and placing six runners in the top 10 including district champ junior Chris Moreno who won in 16:55.51.

Junior Matthew Maese was third in 17:42.97, sophomore Angel Maese was fifth in 18:04.93, senior Irvin Vazquez was sixth in 18:11.71, senior Alan Ceballos was seventh (18:19.42) and seniorJorge Maese was eighth 18:56.83.

The defending Class 4A state champions won its eighth district championship and are headed to regionals.

Riverside seniors Andrew Valdiviezo was second in 16:58.27 and Jayden Bustillos was fourth in 17:46.05. Junior Kevin Perez was ninth in 19:03.93 as the Rangers finished second with 37 points.

“It was a tough race,” Moreno said. “Andrew is a great runner and he pushed me to run my best. “It was a different course this year with more hills, but it was a race which will help me get ready for regionals and hopefully state.”

Moreno becomes the fifth straight San Elizario runner to win district. Texas runners Edwin Gomez won the past four years.

“He taught me to keep pushing and to never give up,” he said. “He told me to do whatever coach (Morales) says to do and never give up. Being a runner is not easy. We have to wake up at 6 a.m. every day to workout – it doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold, you need to practice every day and do what you need to do to be better.”

Valle Verde Early College was third with 99 points.

The San Elizario girls won its first district championship since 2018.

The San Elizario girls took four of the top 10 spots to win with 29 points followed by Riverside (39) and Young Women’s Leadership Academy with 66 points.

It was the Eagles first district championship since 2018.

Eagle senior Samantha Ramirez was first on the 2-mile course in 13:13.42 followed by sophomore teammate Katelyn Montoya(13:57.14),sophomoreOsmary Vazquez was fifth in 14:45.79, and senior Ashley Hernandez was 10th in 15:03.62.

“I’m really proud of my run, but I feel like I could have given a little more,” Ramirez said. “I’ve been working really hard to get to this point but this year was different. People say, ‘last one, best one,’ so I thought to myself I had to give it my all this year.”

Mt. View juniorMadelaine Estrada was third in 14:04.29.

Junior Angel Torres and sophomore Daniel Romero finished 1-2 in District 4-3A and will advance to the Class 3A Region 1 championship.

District 4-3A

What an eventful day Thursday was for Tornillo.

Junior Angel Torres and sophomore Daniel Romero finished 1-2 in the district and the girl’s won the Cotton Valley school’s first girl’s District 4-3A cross country championship

Torres won the individual title in 16:50. And Romero was second in 17.21. The team finished second with 54 points. Presidio won the district with 30 points and Alpine was third with 67.

Last year, the girl’s fell seven points short of winning its first district championship in school history.

Not this year.

Tornillo won its first girl’s District 4-3A cross country championship in school history.

Behind two-time defending champion, junior Kylene Elias, the Coyotes dominated, scoring 19 points. Elias won her third title, racing the 2-mile course in 12:45 followed by senior Olivia Garcia (13:07).

Presidio was second with 49 points followed by Kermit’s 70.

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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