The most surprising thing that happened at the Trooper Twilight Invitational at Eastside Sports Complex is what didn’t happen.
For the first time in 11 years, the Eastwood boy’s cross country team did not win a local race.
The upstart Franklin Cougars won the event by placing four runners in the top eight with a team average 16:47.84 42.
“It feels great to beat No. 1 but it only matters when the most important race comes,” said Diego Flores who was third in 16:24.05. “We can win every race leading up to districts but if we lose there, that’s it. Franklin has never won a district title so that’s our goal. We are going to continue working until we reach that goal. After that we’ll take everything step by step.”
Franklin scored 42 points, 19 points better than the field. Eastwood was second with 61 points and Coronado was third with 71 points.
Eastwood’s team average was 17:00.74 and Coronado’s was 17:02.61.
Coronado’s Luis Pastor won in 15:56.36 followed by Daniel Romero from Tornillo (16:20.50), Flores, Matthew Engle from Franklin, (16:33.91), San Elizario’s Chris Moreno (16:34.80), Eastwood’s Alexander Flores (16:40.30) a pair of Franklin runners Denovan Estrada, 16:41.21) and Juan Leal (16:47.00), Tornillo’s Angel Torres (16:51.54) and Julian Guerra from San Elizario (16:54.40) round out the top 10.
“The season has been a bit challenging individually,” said Flores, a senior. “But it’s been fun; I love the fight our guys have. I love the sport because it shows how much fight you have in you; how bad you want it.”
He said this season has been the best since he has been at Franklin.
“Our team has grown so much,” he said. “We are brothers now. We are genuinely family. I love when our team strives. We have two other top runners – Matthew and Denovan, when they get up there, it makes me want to push harder. This season has been amazing so far.”
Franklin finished fourth at the Southlake Carroll Invitational last week.
“We fought the best teams in Texas,” he said. “I loved the competition there. It changed our mentality; it showed how tough we are. We worked hard as a team. It showed that if we can compete at that level, we could compete with anyone.”
This week’s Cross Country Coaches Association of Texas poll has Franklin ranked No. 6 and Eastwood No. 8 in Class 6A.
Tornillo’s Romero has also performed well this season, finishing second at the Trooper Twilight.
“That was a great race, with a lot of competition,” Romero said. “I had to push myself the entire race. My arms got tired at the end, so I had to open up my stride and extend my legs more in the final stage of the race.”
The Class 3A Cotton Valley school finished a respectable sixth with a team average of 18:34.02.
The team just broke into the Cross Country Coaches Association of Texas poll at No. 6 in Class 3A.
“The season is going very well, hopefully we can make it back to state as a team,” he said. “We’re working with a few new members and every meet they are getting stronger. I try to motivate them and push through their pain, even when it gets hard, I tell them to give it their best.”