San Elizario senior Chris Moreno, who ended the 2021 season with a Class 4A state silver medal around his neck, has continued his winning ways.
Moreno won his third straight invitational on Saturday at Del Valle High School, holding off Tornillo’s Daniel Romero in the final 100 meters.
Moreno finished in 16:19.62 and Romero in 16:19.98. Eastwood’s Alex Flores was third 16:24.18 followed by Hanks’ Alejandro Tarin (16:46.51) and Eastwood’s Matthew Marshall (16:50.51).
“The first mile and a half I was pacing myself behind Alex and little by little I caught up to him,” Moreno said. “I started to relax and pushing it a little more when Danny came up. I had to have a good kick at the end to win.”
Rounding out the top 10 were Eastwood’s Anthony Casillas (16:56.74) and Leo Espino (16:57.45), Parkland teammates Michael Castorena (eighth, 16:59.44) and Efren Moncada (tenth, 17:27.73) and Immanuel Christian’s Israel Quintana (ninth, 17:13.73).
Moreno said the stiff El Paso competition helps him prepare for what he sees at regionals and state.
“El Paso has a lot of great runners, so we push each other every weekend,” he said. “We all work together to be better runners.”
He is also sticking to the rigid San Elizario training schedule.
“Every week we train harder than the previous week,” he said. “If you train hard, the races will be easier. We’ve been training on hills which gets us stronger, plus we’re doing a lot of distance which should help us in the earlier season. We’ll do more speed work when we get closer to state. Right now, I’m happy with where we’re at.”
Kassandra Jimenez; Eastwood boy’s cruise
Kassandra Jimenez has had a busy summer.
The Montwood senior is coming off a spectacular summer track season, earning a USATF national championship in the steeplechase, a silver in the 3,000-meter run and a fourth-place finish in the 1,500.
After finishing second at the Canutillo Invitational, Jimenez came back on Saturday to win the Rudy Alvarez Invitational at Del Valle in a season-best 19:42.10.
Pebble Hills’ Natalia Martinez Lopez was second (19:47.27) followed by teammate Natalie Franco (20:35.64), Canutillo’s Natalie Rivera (20:50.20), Chapin’s Rebecca Duran (20:51.12), Eastlake’s Itzel Chavez (21:05.24), Chapin’s Gianny Correa (21:06.57), Del Valle’s Valeria Loo-Kung (21:07.63), Eastwood’s Salma Licon (21:13.74) and Aubrey Arsenault from Pebble Hills (21:14.20).
Jimenez said summer track has helped her prepare for the fall cross country season.
“Summer track helped me with my speed and turnover,” she said. “Since I ran at the national level, the competition really helped me show myself that I can run with some talented girls. I now know when I put my mind to it, I can end a race strong.”
She said she is not fatigued from the long season.
“I have some really good coaches who have trained me well,” she said. “I’m in a really good state physically and mentally. I don’t feel fatigued or that I’m going to peak too early. I feel like I’m right on track.”
The Eastwood boys easily won the team title with 29 points, placing four runners in the top seven.
“We’re really a close team,” Flores said. “We all care for each other so when we are racing, we all know that we are out there for each other.”
Flores, who is running his first varsity season, said the team concept is the only way to go.
“Of course, you have to think about yourself too, but you’re doing it for the team,” he said “Half the race is mental and that really helps you push through to the end. The concept of the race is pushing your body to the absolute limit and sure, it terrifies you, but you are doing it for your teammates so that really pushes you when you feel you can’t go on.”
Flores said this year’s team, with only two runners back from a Class 6A state bronze medal team, is well aware of what the expectations are.
“There is pressure, but we welcome it,” he said. “There is a positive that comes with a legacy, knowing the history helps push us through those hard points of the season. We are not only doing it for ourselves, but the guys who came before us.”