San Elizario earns sixth Class 4A state title in eight years; Eastwood ekes out bronze

Winning gold never gets old in San Elizario.

Matter of fact, it has become a tradition – a rite of passage for its runners.

The Class 4A cross country juggernaut defended its state title on Saturday morning at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock, edging Region 1 foe Argyle by four points.

San Elizario won back-to-back state titles.

This was the Eagles sixth state title in eight years – winning in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020 and 2021. In the years they didn’t win gold, they finished second (2019) and third (2018).

Canyon, the Region 1 champion, was third.

“We’re very happy for the kids,” San Elizario coach Cesar Morales. “Finishing second at regionals gave us a little bit of humility and it forced us to come up with a plan that needed to be executed. It all worked out perfectly for us.”

Morales credits the 25-second gap between his two through five runners for the team’s success.

“We knew it was going to come down to the last kilometer so made several adjustments that eventually paid off for us,” he said.

Junior Angel Maese was 29th in 16:41.3 followed by sophomore Matthew Maese (39th, 16:53.5), senior Irvin Vazquez (48th, 16:59.6), sophomore Julian Guerra (55th, 17:06.1), senior Alan Ceballos (69th, 17:13.1) and senior Jorge Maese (105th, 17:55.0).

He is also impressed with how the team has emerged as state champions after losing Edwin Gomez and Dilan Sanchez – its two leaders the past four years.

“This group of kids is carrying on that tradition of doing well in state,” Morales said. “Edwin was a great leader and a great athlete for the past four years so there was a question coming into the season if we could continue the San Eli legacy. This is proof that we can and that we will continue to do well.”

Chris Moreno

San Elizario junior Chris Moreno was second in 15:45.8, three seconds behind state champMicah Swann from Athens who completed the course in 15:42.4.

“The first mile was pretty relaxing but heading out into the second mile, Swann made a move, and I knew I had to keep up with him,” Moreno said. “Little by little, he was moving farther ahead of me, so I just kept my pace because I know I have a good 800-meter kick. Almost towards the end of the race, I noticed that he slipped and almost fell. I saw that as my opportunity, so I started pushing myself harder. But as we headed to the finish, he regained his momentum, and it was too late for me.”

Moreno said he was happy with his silver medal but is even happier the team was able to repeat as Class 4A state champions.

“It feels great,” he said. “At the beginning of the season, people all over Texas doubted we could do it again. It gave us motivation to show them we could do it even without Edwin and Dilan. In our hearts and in minds, we knew that we could win another state title for San Elizario and carry on the tradition.”

Riverside seniors Jayden Bustillos (16th, 16:18.5) and Andrew Valdiviezo (19th, 16:28.7) had top 20 finishes.

On the girl’s side in class 4A, San Elizario senior Samantha Ramirez was 74th in the two-mile race in 12:45.0.

The Eastwood Troopers won its fifth consecutive state medal – eking out a bronze medal in Class 6A.

Class 6A

The Eastwood Troopers won its fifth consecutive state medal – eking out a bronze medal in Class 6A.

Initially, Humble Atascocista and Eastwood had been listed as having tied at 133 with Atascocista earning third place due to its sixth runner finishing better than Eastwood’s sixth.

However, about 20 minutes later, after resolving “a technical issue,” Eastwood was declared the winner, finishing with 132 points, one point better than Atascocista.

Southlake Carroll won state with 65 and The Woodlands was second with 96 points.

“The race goes on, the results come in and I see that we tied for third but lost the tiebreaker,” said Eastwood coach Mike McLain. “We’re in the tent taking pictures with the girls and someone from MileSplit said ‘congratulations, they redid the results and you finished third.’  We had no idea what was happening, so we get on our phones and it still shows us at fourth.”

McLain went to the medal stand and asked someone there and they didn’t know what was going on either. McLain walked over to the UIL tent to speak with an official who told him to go another tent where there was a monitor showing rolling results.

“It showed us in third by one point,” McLain said. “I asked someone there and he told me to go back to the medal stand, which is where we started, to find out.”

They finally got a hold of the official timer who said they went through the camera finish and reversed a couple of things and Eastwood finished third.

“Two of our top runners were sick so coming into the race we knew a third-place finish was probably the best we could do, so that was pretty nice,” McLain said. “We knew medaling for five straight years at state would be historic for El Paso. We’ll celebrate this, and hopefully we can get those two boys feeling better and go after it again at Nike South.”

Eastwood senior Andres Gurrola was the top Trooper runner, finishing 12th in 15:28.6.

Seniors Andres Gurrola and Isaac Mendoza had top 20 finishes to lead Eastwood Gurrola 12th in 15:28.6 and Isaac Mendoza, 17th in 15:37.8. Sophomore Jacob Beckett was 37th in 15:54.6 followed by senior Victor Anchondo (46th, 15:58.5), senior Devon Paez (108th, 16:44.6) and juniors Anthony Casillas (120th, 16:56.1) and Joaquin Chavez (148th, 17:51.1).

“It was a roller coaster of emotions,” Gurrola said. “Regardless of the place we were going to get, we were all proud of the effort that we put in because we all know how hard we worked this season.”

Eastwood ran in its eighth consecutive state meet and its ninth in the past 10 years.

“This culture was built way before I came in,” Gurrola said. “As soon as I came in my freshman year, a light went on in my head. Watching the seniors and seeing the team succeed my freshman year and being able to go to NXN changed my mindset and inspired me.”

Austin Vandegrift junior Kevin Sanchez won the individual title in 14:53.4. Pebble Hills junior Omer Ibrahim was eighth in 15:17.3 and Coronado junior Luis Pastor was tenth in 15:19.9 – both earning All-State honors.

Pebble Hills junior Omer Ibrahim was eighth in 15:17.3 and Coronado junior Luis Pastor was tenth in 15:19.9 – both earning Class 6A All-State honors.

“It was exciting and nerve racking but overall it was a great experience with great competition, and I really loved the flat course,” Ibrahim said. “I felt strong and good once the race got started but before the race I was wondering how it would go down so that got me a little nervous.”

Ibrahim said he didn’t feel too overwhelmed at his first state championship.

“I’m really excited about what I did; I really feel good about myself,” he said. “I did what I had to do, and I was able to get it done.”

Pastor said his first state championship was “roller coaster of emotions.”

“I would feel nervous for one second and then the next minute I was feeling good ready to compete,” he said. “Once the gun went off, I was trying to stick with my strategy. Usually, I like to run from the front because even if I died out, it wouldn’t matter because I would be so far ahead of everyone. But at regionals and state, I ran from the back and picked off one guy, one pack, at a time.”

Americas senior Jared Laverty was 45th in 15:58.4 and teammate Carmelo Corral was 71st in 16:17.8.

Eastwood freshman Adelynn Rodriguez earned Class 6A All-State honors after finishing seventh in 17:49.2

On the girl’s side, Eastwood freshman Adelynn Rodriguez and senior Lauren Walls-Portillo earned All-State honors.

It is the first time a pair of Eastwood teammates finished in the top 10.

Rodriguez was seventh in 17:49.2 and Walls-Portillo was tenth in 18:10.3.

“It’s really crazy, I honestly wasn’t expecting this,” Rodriguez said. “I just wanted to go out there and run my best race of the season.”

Rodriguez credits Walls-Portillo for her continued support throughout her first high school season.

“She is really special to me,” she said. “I never had a female teammate as fast as me so coming into Eastwood and seeing that I could run with Lauren was a big deal for me because of what she has accomplished in her four years. She has inspired me to do the same thing in my four years.”

Eastwood senior Lauren Walls-Portillo earned Class 6A All-State honors, placing 10th in her final state championship.

Walls-Portillo, who ran in her fourth state meet, said is relieved she is leaving the Eastwood girl’s program in good hands.

“It feels really good knowing that she is going continue to keep the Eastwood tradition alive,” Walls-Portillo said. “It really comforts me to know that our girl’s team will have someone leading them next year.”

Lewisville Flower Mound senior Natalie Cook won the event in 16:32.4. Franklin junior Alyssa Laspada was 62nd in 19:08.1.

McLain said it was great to see two Eastwood girls receiving state medals around their necks. “This was one of the strongest years in our state for the girls,” McLain said. “The Woodlands and Flower Mound are killing it; Southlake Carroll was up there killing it against some of the best teams in the nation and they end fourth and they are one of the best teams in the nation.”

Tornillo’s Angel Torres comes back for silver medal performance

Tornillo junior Angel Torres and Poth High senior Wyatt Hoover provided the most exciting finish in recent memory on the first day of the UIL Texas State Cross Country Championship.

Both runners finished the 3.1 mile race at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock in 15:57.4, however, a photo finish showed Hoover nipping Torres at the end to win the Class 3A individual title.

Amarillo River Road senior Crawford Kiser was third in 16:00.3.

“I honestly didn’t think I would catch him at the end,” Torres said. “The three of us pulled away and then I got complacent, I was going to be OK with third. But then I saw Crawford getting tired and I thought ‘OK, I can get second – I’ll take second.’ At the kick, I saw Wyatt slow down and I thought, ‘Oh, maybe I can win it’ and I started kicking but he turned and saw me and started kicking again.”

Tornillo junior Angel Torres earned a silver medal at the Class 3A UIL Texas State Cross Country Championship.

What makes this story even more amazing is the fact that Torres was the last runner to qualify at regionals where finished 14th.

“I had a really bad regional race, it was so bad I had to walk up the second hill,” he said. “One of the Presidio guys tapped me on my shoulder and said, “come on, let’s go,’ so I started going with him so if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have made it to state.”

Torres improved on his sixth place All State performance from last year. His second-place finish is the best in school history at the state meet.

Teammate, sophomore Daniel Romero, was 26th in 16:56.3.

This is how close the finish of the Class 3A race was.

Tornillo’s girls team had a respectable showing at its first state championship, finishing eleventh.

Holliday won the team title with 39 points followed by Lorena with 87 and Poth with 135 points.

“I am so proud of what they accomplished,” Tornillo coach Jesse Garcia said. “The season was a great success. Six weeks ago we didn’t have a team so the fact that we are here is a testament to the hard work these girls put in for each other. They had to overcome adversity all season, but they believed in something that was practically impossible.”

Junior Kylene Elias led the way, finishing the two-mile course 51st in 12:56.2 followed by junior Brianna Ibarra (85th, 13:19.4), senior Wendy Garcia (87th, 13:21.7), sophomore Nataly Escajeda (99th, 13:29.8), senior Olivia Garcia (117th, 13:50.2) and senior Abetsi Blanco (144th, 14:52.2).

Holliday senior Hannah Spears won the event in 11:34.9.

The state’s top three runners in Class 3A – Tornillo junior Angel Torres, Poth High senior Wyatt Hoover and Amarillo River Road Crawford Kiser.

There were no medal ceremonies for El Paso’s four Class 5A participants.

In the boy’s race, Hanks junior Alejandro Tarin was 27th in 16:05.6 and senior Gael Alvarado was 51st in 16:30.8.

Grapevine’s Walker St. John won the event in 15:06.6. Grapevine won the team title as well with 53 points.

Burges senior Pamela Ramirez finished in 68th place in 19:37.3 and Jefferson senior Crystal Peterson was 76th in 19:41.5.

Canyon Randall senior Cameron McConnell won the event in 17:15.4 Lucas Lovejoy win the team title with 65 points.

On Saturday, San Elizario’s boys look to defend its Class 4A state title and Eastwood’s boys are going after its fifth consecutive medal at the state meet.

State Championship Preview: Five sets of teammates; 16 individuals chasing state medals

Monday: Tornillo girls.

Tuesday: San Elizario boys.

Wednesday: Eastwood boys.

Today: Individual qualifiers. Class 6A – Pebble Hills junior Omer Ibrahim; Coronado junior Luis Pastor; Americas senior Jared Laverty; Americas senior Carmelo Corral; Eastwood senior Lauren Walls-Portillo; Eastwood freshman Adelynn Rodriguez and Franklin junior Alyssa Laspada. Class 5A – Burges senior Pamela Ramirez; Jefferson senior Crystal Peterson; Hanks junior Alejandro Tarin; Hanks senior Gael Alvarado. Class 4A – Riverside seniors Andrew Valdiviezo and Jayden Bustillos and San Elizario senior Samantha Ramirez. Class 3A – Tornillo sophomore Daniel Romero and junior Angel Torres.

Make Plans

What: UIL State Cross Country Championship.

When:  Friday, Nov. 5. All times MDT: Class 3A girls, 9 a.m.; Class 3A boys, 9:30 a.m. Class 5A girls; 10:30 a.m., Class 5A boys, 11:10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 6. Class 4A girls, 9 a.m.; Class 4A boys, 9:30 a.m.; Class 6A girls, 10:30 a.m.; Class 6A boys, 11:10 a.m.

Where:  Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

At Stake: State team and individual titles.

Americas seniors Jared Laverty and Carmelo Corral and Pebble Hills junior Omer Ibrahim will compete in the Class 6A race on Saturday.

Five sets of teammates will be racing for a spot on the medal stand at the UIL State Cross Country Championships on Friday and Saturday.

They are: Americas seniors Jared Laverty and Carmelo Corral; Eastwood senior Lauren Walls-Portillo and freshman Adelynn Rodriguez; Hanks senior Gael Alvarado and junior Alejandro Tarin; Riverside seniors Andrew Valdiviezo and Jayden Bustillos; and Tornillo sophomore Daniel Romero and junior Angel Torres.

Also chasing state medals will be Pebble Hills junior Omer Ibrahim, Coronado junior Luis Pastor, Franklin junior Alyssa Laspada, Burges senior Pamela Ramirez and Jefferson senior Crystal Peterson and San Elizario senior Samantha Ramirez.

Laverty and Corral have been teammates since they were 8-years-old, running for the El Paso Flames.

“Once we both got to Americas, our goal has always been to qualify for state,” Laverty said.

The first two years, Laverty and Corral – who have been running varsity since their freshman year – advanced to state as part of the team.

Last year, Laverty advanced as an individual. He said having Corral train with him in the 10 days leading up to state has been beneficial.

“Sometimes when you’re having a bad day it’s always good to have someone in front to try to catch up to or on the good days, have someone pushing you from behind,” Laverty said. “Training has been going really smooth. We’ve been tapering down and getting ready for state.

Corral, who will be racing in his third state championship, said Saturday’s run is going to be bittersweet.

“Before the race it’s going to be all nerves, but when it’s done, as nerve wracking as it is, I’m probably going to do it all again,” Corral said. “It’s going to be fun, especially since I’m doing it with Jared who has been a friend of mine for such a long time.”

Corral considers himself blessed to be able to run in three state championships.

“I’m very appreciative to have been given the opportunities that I’ve been given,” he said. “A lot of runners would be happy just to be able to experience state one time and I’ve been blessed to be able to compete in three. This one I take the most pride in because the first two we qualified as a team, but this one I made as an individual; that has been my goal since my freshman year.”

Laverty and Corral will race in the Class 6A boys race at 11:10 a.m. Saturday.

Also racing in the Class 6A division will be Eastwood’s boys, Pebble Hills junior Omer Ibrahim, Coronado junior Luis Pastor.

“The season has had its up and downs,” Pastor said. “I had an airway disease that affected me for from the end of August to the middle September where I was wheezing all the time. I could barely walk much less run – it was really bad and I thought that was the end of my season.”

But Pastor – who finished fifth at the Region 1-6A Championship in 15:47.0 – persevered winning three meets and finishing in the top 3 in many of his races.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself this season, but mostly that I’m stubborn,” he said. “My coach would tell me to take it easy but I would sneak off with the boys and did the workout anyway. I also learned that I won’t let adversity keep me down, I’ll keep working through it until I get what I want.”

Ibrahim, who finished with bronze medal at regionals in 15:45.3, said he’s kept his training pretty much the same the past 10 days.

“At this point I’m trying to maintain strength so I don’t overwork my body,” he said.

After missing out on state the previous two years, he is more than ready for Saturday’s run.

“Of course, the best-case scenario is I win it all, but as I long as I compete to the best of my ability, give it my all, stay strong and stay with the lead pack, I’ll be happy with it,” he said.

The girls Class 6A race will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and will feature Franklin junior Alyssa Laspada and a pair of Eastwood runners – senior Lauren Walls-Portillo and freshman Adelynn Rodriguez.

Franklin coach Anthony Laspada said he is proud of the way Alyssa has taken on the leadership role for Franklin after the graduation of Eva Jess and Ally Little – both running at UT-Austin.

“Those are some really big shoes she had to fill,” he said. “We had Eva for the past four years and Ally came on strong last year but for her to step into that role was amazing. She knew it was coming, we talked about it, we strategized in the summer about how it is to take the lead. She’s had some hiccups here and there because she is not used to it. She is maturing nicely but it isn’t just her, it was also the other girls on the team, I am so proud of them all.”

Franklin narrowly missed out on its third consecutive state appearance, finishing tied for fourth with Northwest Eaton with 167 points in the Region 1-6A Championship.  Eaton advanced on the strength of its sixth runner finishing before Franklin’s sixth runner.

Laspada placed 20th in 19:28.0 and advanced to state individually.

“There’s been a lot of pressure this season,” she said. “I was used to Eva and Ally being there for me pushing me and talking me through my races. But this year I had all my other teammates be there for me; they’ve really come through for me.”

Laspada said she learned a lot from Jess and Little.

“Eva and Ally taught me so much but probably the most important thing they taught me was to work my hardest and try my best all the time and I’ll get where I want be,” she said.

Eastwood freshman Adelynn Rodriguez will race in her first Class 6A state meet on Saturday.

Eastwood’s Walls-Portillo and Rodriguez have developed into one of the strongest 1-2 combinations in the state.

“Lauren has worked her tail off for four years and has shown great improvement every year so this is icing on the cake for her,” said Eastwood coach Mike McLain said. “We just want her to enjoy her time and enjoy what she is doing her senior year. What does it mean for Adelynn? She can learn some good lessons from Lauren’s career as she looks forward to her own great career. She can take what she has learned from this experience and make her own mark on Eastwood, the city, the state and hopefully beyond that.”

Walls-Portillo was second on a region (18:05.1) that features three of the nation’s top girls programs – Lewisville Flower Mound, Southlake Carroll and Prosper. Rodriguez was sixth in 18:28.6.

“Region 1 is sick,” McLain said.  “You have three of the top 30 teams in the nation in our region so for Lauren to finish second is just amazing. And last time I checked, Adelynn was ranked 13th among all freshman in the nation.”

It was the first team Eastwood had two girls finish in top six in regional competition.

“That means a lot to us,” McLain said. “Our girls were winning city championships before our boys were. If you go back to 2005, we’ve only not won district three or four times and in those years we didn’t win, we were second. Sixteen championships out of the past 20 years is huge.”

Eastwood’s best girl’s finish was in 2014 when Anna Mora placed eighth in 18:09.59.

“Our goal is to create memories for our athletes,” McLain said. “We believe by putting athletes first and giving them great experiences, success will follow. What’s more important is what it means for Lauren and Adelynn.”

Hanks senior Gael Alvarado won the District 2-5A title and placed 13th at regionals. He will be racing in his second state meet.

Class 5A

The Hanks Knights also have a pair of teammates in Round Rock – senior Gael Alvarado and junior Alejandro Tarin.

“Running that state meet with Gael should be a fun experience,” Tarin said. “It’s definitely better than running on my own. I really enjoy running with him so I hope it brings out the best in us.”

This is Tarin’s third trip to state – his second as an individual.

He finished 47th last year in 16:07.77.

“We’re both very competitive so that makes practices much better,” he said. “It’s a lot more fun competing against someone on your own team. Having that constant competitiveness will bring out the best in you.”

Alvarado won the District 2-5A title and placed 13th at regionals in 16:23.7. Tarin was 16th at regionals, three seconds behind his teammate in 16:29.1.

“Training is easy when you have someone else to run with,” Alvarado said. “Running with Alejandro has been very uplifting. He is bit more competitive than me but it has definitely helped us a lot.”

He said the knowledge he gained from training with former Hanks All State runners Michael Abeyta and Rodger Rivera has helped prepare for this moment.

“When Michael and Rodger were here, I was able to take their guidance and that’s what made me a better runner,” he said. “Once they left, it was just me and Alejandro so it forced us to push each other and to do better.”

Alvarado – who will making his second state appearance – missed out last year by one spot.

“I’m extremely relieved,” he said. “I’m actually more excited than nervous. I’m just happy I could run the state course my senior year.”

The Class 5A boys will race at 11:10 a.m. Friday.

Jefferson senior Crystal Peterson has been to three state Class 5A championships.

Burges senior Pamela Ramirez and Jefferson senior Crystal Peterson will be racing in the girl’s Class 5A race at 10:30 a.m. also on Friday.

Ramirez, the District 1-5A champion was eighth at regionals in 19:16.4, will be racing in her second consecutive state championship. She placed 101st in 19:53.14 last year.

This will Peterson’s third trip to state.

Class 4A

For Riverside seniors Andrew Valdiviezo and Jayden Bustillos, the journey to state began when the pair were 8th graders at Riverside Middle School.

“We have a history together of dominating in our middle school years so it’s not like he is new to the game,” Valdiviezo said. “He ran last year and just missed state by seven places. But he turned it up this year and I couldn’t be more grateful to him for that.”

Valdiviezo is appreciative to have his old middle school running mate back.

“Having Jayden with me this year has been a big help,” he said. “Last year doing everything myself was tough. This year, if I slack off he would be right there on me. If he slacks it, I would be right on him so we’ve helped out each other get better.”

Valdiviezo who placed 69th in 17:21.62 at last year’s state race.

“Things didn’t play out in my favor last year so I’ve been very eager to go back and to prove to everyone that I deserve to be there,” he said. “Coming into high school was tough because I came in from winning it all in middle school to being a mediocre runner. Once I get a feel for varsity and I started to understand how good I could become, it really helped my confidence. It took some time to get as comfortable and confident as I am but I’m glad I’m here.”

The Class 4A boys race is at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

Friends since middle school, Riverside senior Andrew Valdiviezo and Jayden Bustillos will end their high school cross country careers at the Class 4A state championship.

After taking a break from cross country his freshman and sophomore years to focus on wrestling, Bustillos returned to the course his junior year.

“Last year I really didn’t take it seriously,” he said. “But this year, I felt the love for running again. Coach (Manny) Estrada is very good coach, the way he trains us and the way he runs the program, I just found a love for it.”

The thing Bustillos loves most about cross country is just finishing.

“Even through you feel like you’re about to die and pass out, at the end, you feel so accomplished, you feel, ‘dang, I ran those 3.1 miles,’ it’s insane, not many people can do that,” he said. “I love the feeling of that accomplishment.”

Bustillos is no stranger to a state championship. He has wrestled in the past two UIL State Wrestling Tournaments, winning a silver in the 113-pound weight class last year.

“I’m not really nervous,” he said about the state cross country championship. “I’ve been in big competitions before so being in that type of environment doesn’t really get to me. I think I perform better under pressure, I don’t know why, but I do.”

So now it comes down to one race in the high school careers of Valdiviezo and Bustillos.

“It’s surreal,” Valdiviezo said. “Never would I have thought that me and that kid from middle school would be running at the state meet together. I’m very grateful for him and the coaching staff who helped us get there.”

Busitllos feels the same way.

“I know it’s going to be sad,” he said. “It’s my last race so all I can do is go out and give it all I’ve got. I already told Drew that I’m coming for him.”

Valdiviezo and Bustillos, teammates and competitors till the end.

San Elizario senior Samantha Ramirez will race in her first state meet. She placed 15th in 12:52.2 at regionals. She will race at 9 a.m. also on Saturday.

Tornillo junior Angel Torres will try to improve on his sixth place at last year’s state Class 4A championship.

Class 3A

For the first time in nine years, the boys did not qualify to state as a team.

However, sophomore Daniel Romero and junior Angel Torres will race for a spot on the medal stand at 9:30 a.m. on Friday.

Romero was third at regionals in 16:48.0 and Torres was 14th in 18:14.1.

Coach Jesse Garcia said both runners have the potential to medal.

Torres earned All State honors with his sixth place in 16:06.03 at last year’s state meet and Romero was 21st in 16:33.23.

State Championship Preview: Eastwood Defying Expectations

Monday: Tornillo girls.

Tuesday: San Elizario boys.

Today: Eastwood boys.

Thursday:  Individual qualifiers. Class 6A – Pebble Hills junior Omer Ibrahim; Coronado junior Luis Pastor; Americas senior Jared Laverty; Americas senior Carmelo Corral; Eastwood senior Lauren Walls-Portillo; Eastwood freshman Adelynn Rodriguez and Franklin junior Alyssa Laspada. Class 5A – Burges senior Pamela Ramirez; Jefferson senior Crystal Peterson; Hanks junior Alejandro Tarin; Hanks senior Gael Alvarado. Class 4A – Riverside seniors Andrew Valdiviezo and Jayden Bustillos. Class 3A – Tornillo sophomore Daniel Romero and junior Angel Torres.

Make Plans

What: UIL State Cross Country Championship.

When:  Friday, Nov. 5. All times MDT: Class 3A girls, 9 a.m.; Class 3A boys, 9:30 a.m. Class 5A girls; 10:30 a.m., Class 5A boys, 11:10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 6. Class 4A girls, 9 a.m.; Class 4A boys, 9:30 a.m.; Class 6A girls, 10:30 a.m.; Class 6A boys, 11:10 a.m.

Where:  Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

At Stake: State team and individual titles.

Eastwood is looking to improve on its Region 1-6A runner-up position at the UIL Cross Country Championship.

After finishing second to Southlake Carroll in the Region 1-6A championship 10 days ago – a position where the Eastwood Troopers ended the 2020 season at the UIL State Championship – coach Mike McLain said his team was “overperforming expectations.”

Kind of sounds strange for team heading to its eighth consecutive trip to state (its ninth in 10 years), but it is true.

For five of the seven runners, it’s their first year on varsity.

“Did I expect them to go out and challenge nationally ranked teams like they’ve been doing this year after losing almost our entire team, – no I didn’t,” McLain said. “These guys definitely rank as one of the top three most-surprising teams that I’ve had.”

The team – seniors Andres Gurrola, Isaac Mendoza, Victor Anchondo, Devon Paez, juniors Joaquin Chavez and Anthony Casillas and sophomore Jacob Beckett – have done well in its two major meets this season, finishing fifth out of 30 teams in the “sweepstakes” division of the 40th annual Woodbridge Cross Country Classic in Woodbridge, Calif. and second out 27 teams in the “sweepstakes” division at the Desert Twilight, the Nike Pre-Southwest Regional meet, in Queen Creek, Ariz.

“They are not supposed to be doing what they’re doing and they don’t care,” McLain said. “We’re not the big school, we are not the affluent school, we’re not the kids everybody was talking about when they were in middle school or freshman. They’ve learned that they can accomplish more together than by themselves. They understand they are stronger together than they are apart.”

Eastwood has competed against top national teams such Newbury Park (Calif.) the No. 1 high school team in the country, U.S. No. 12 Niwot High, the defending Colorado state champion and Southlake (twice), the defending Class 6A state champion.

“We know what is expected of us and we work hard to meet those expectations,” said Mendoza. “People expect us to go to state every year, we’re expected to be one of the top teams in the nation. We just want to uphold the Eastwood tradition.”

Eastwood seniors Andres Gurrola (left) and Isaac Mendoza (right), are the Troopers top runners.

Mendoza and Gurrola are the two returning runners from last year’s silver medal team.

Eastwood is looking to medal in its fifth consecutive state meet.

The team earned a Class 6A silver in 2020, won back-to-back Class 5A state championships in 2018 and 2019 and earned a bronze medal in 2017 in Class 6A – the Troopers first team cross country medal.

“For some people, it’s in their DNA to run their best at big races,” McLain said. “For a lot of our guys this is their first year on varsity and they’re seniors but they’ve watched Eastwood teams before them and they know that it can be done.”

Setting the team up for success has been in Eastwood’s DNA for years.

“Being in big races has definitely helped,” McLain said. “We have a strong belief in our workouts and that leads to a big advantage over other teams. The kids know that and if they do Eastwood’s workout, they can compete against some really big, really good schools.”

Although there are two other races on the Troopers schedule – the NXN South Regional Championship in November and the Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championship in December – for now, the biggest race is the next one, the Class 6A UIL State Cross Country Championship at 11:10 a.m. on Saturday.

“Based on where they started four years ago, this group of boys should not be competing with the teams that they are competing with – yet, they are are,” McLain said. “They know our program and what works and what it can do for them. It’s a belief that’s already inside of them.”

State Championship Preview: It’s a family affair in San Elizario

Today: Tornillo girls.

Tuesday: San Elizario boys.

Wednesday: Eastwood boys.

Thursday:  Individual qualifiers. Class 6A – Pebble Hills junior Omer Ibrahim; Coronado junior Luis Pastor; Americas senior Jared Laverty; Americas senior Carmelo Corral; Eastwood senior Lauren Walls-Portillo; Eastwood freshman Adelynn Rodriguez and Franklin junior Alyssa Laspada. Class 5A – Burges senior Pamela Ramirez; Jefferson senior Crystal Peterson; Hanks junior Alejandro Tarin; Hanks senior Gael Alvarado. Class 4A – Riverside seniors Andrew Valdiviezo and Jayden Bustillos. Class 3A – Tornillo sophomore Daniel Romero and junior Angel Torres.

Make Plans

What: UIL State Cross Country Championship.

When:  Friday, Nov. 5. All times MDT: Class 3A girls, 9 a.m.; Class 3A boys, 9:30 a.m. Class 5A girls; 10:30 a.m., Class 5A boys, 11:10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 6. Class 4A girls, 9 a.m.; Class 4A boys, 9:30 a.m.; Class 6A girls, 10:30 a.m.; Class 6A boys, 11:10 a.m.

Where:  Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

At Stake: State team and individual titles.

The Maese Clan – nephew Jacob Ordonez, Jorge Maese Jr., Daniel Maese, Matthew Maese, Angel Maese and coach Jorge Maese.

The competition on the cross country course pales in comparison to how competitive the home of Jorge and Perla Maese is.

The San Elizario assistant coach is the father of three varsity runners – junior Matthew Maese, sophomore Angel Maese and senior Jorge Maese Jr.

“They’re boys so by nature they are going to be competitive,” Maese said. “Everything has to be a game – who can finish their meal first, who can run up the stairs first, it doesn’t matter – every thing has to be a competition.”

As San Elizario prepares to defend its Class 4A UIL State Cross Country title at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, there is no doubt that at least one of the Maese boys – senior Jorge Jr., junior Matthew or sophomore Angel – will play a major factor in the outcome.

Last year, it was Matthew – the Eagles’ sixth runner – who finished 63rd overall breaking the 57-57 tie with Melissa to help San Elizario earn its fifth state championship since 2014.

“We wouldn’t have a team without them,” Chris Moreno, the District and Regional champion joked about the Maese brothers.

This year’s edition – Moreno, seniors Alan Ceballos and Irvin Vazquez, sophomore Julian Guerra and the Maese brothers – hope to carry on a solid Cotton Valley tradition.

San Elizario won state titles in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, finished third in 2018 and second in 2019.

‘They are always trying to out-do each other,” Jorge Maese said. “There is a natural rivalry between them, but when its race day, they are focused on their competition and they know they have to do well because our team depends on it.”

This is the second season Matthew and Angel have raced with the varsity and Jorge Jr. first year.

“It’s a great feeling knowing that our family is there supporting each other,” Jorge Jr. said. “Being as competitive as we are really helps use push each other. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing, we’re going to push each other to the limit.”

San Elizario Junior Matthew Maese had a strong Region 1-4 Championship race, finishing in 21st place in 17:01.4. The Eagles are seeking back-to-back state championships.

The Maese brothers have a deep understanding of the tradition-rich culture of distance running at San Elizario.

“When we won state for first time in 2014, all three of his boys were in elementary school,” said Cesar Morales, San Elizarios head cross country coach. “When they would play, they would pretend they were my runners and say, ‘I’m Michael Johnson,’ or ‘I’m Erick Arambula’ or “I’m Ulises Cardoza.’ And, now look at them, they are going to compete for a state championship.”

Jorge Jr. chuckles at the memory.

“I wanted to be like Michael,” he said. “He set so many records and was one of the best runners to come out of San Eli.”

Matthew said he admired Arambula.

“I liked Erick because he would always talk to us so I got to know him better,” he said.

Angel said he models his running philosophy after Cardoza.

“Ulises was always a team runner,” Angel said. “He always put the team first before his accomplishments. I talked to him a lot, he would always make us feel part of the program.”

Matthew, who has been a solid two/three runner for San Elizairo, said running with his brothers and having his father as a coach has made the season special for him.

“Running with the team is great, but obviously it doesn’t compare with running with your brothers,” he said. “We know how to leave personal matters out of the sport. We try to keep everything professional when we run.”

Matthew said he has also learned to respect the blurred lines of having a father as a coach.

“I treat him with even more respect on and off the field,” he said. “Sometimes it’s better for us because he gives us extra motivation knowing that he’s our dad and our coach.”

Angel agrees.

“It’s been a special season being able to run with my brothers,” he said. “There’s a lot of positive energy that comes from my family. Knowing that they are there makes a big difference.”

He said having father as his coach provides that extra push sometimes.

“After every race, we reflect on how we did and how we can do better for the next race,” he said. “That’s something a lot of families don’t have.”

Maese said it is sometimes difficult to differentiate coach from parent.

“When I’m out there, I have to treat them like every other athlete,” he said. “We expect them to do whatever we tell them to do. They don’t get any special treatment.”

Matter of fact, when it’s time for Morales to pick the top seven – Jorge Sr. leaves the room.

“I excuse myself when he picks the top seven,” Maese said. “That’s the fairest thing to do. I don’t want to be bias about anything. But the results show that my three boys have earned a spot in the top seven. They have been able to prove it every week with their times and the consistency of their training.”

With three competitive boys, sometimes dad and coach becomes a referee.

“They’re brothers so of course if one of the boys has a bad race they’ll give each other a hard time, but that’s when I have to take the dad approach to the situation,” he said. “That’s when I have to remind them that all three of them did well but obviously one had a better day then the other two so I have to remind the other two that there’s going to be another race and they need to continue to work hard and next week might bring different results.”

What’s not lost to Maese is the possibility of experiencing a state championship with his three boys.

“I’ve thought about it,” he said. “Every year has been very special, but obviously if we do earn a medal it’s going to be a hell of lot more special since all three of my boys would hopefully contribute to another state championship. I don’t think there would be any words to describe how happy I would feel. It wouldn’t only be a team effort; it would also be a family effort.”

Senior Jorge Maese (center) and junior Julian Guerra will be racing in their first UIL State Cross Country Championsip.

Jorge Jr. said earning a ring with his little brothers would be a great way to cap his senior year.

“It would mean a lot because it’s my first time running at state,” he said. “And if we win, I’ll have a ring too, just like my brothers.”

Matthew said earning a ring with his little brother last year was great, but earning another one with his big brother would be amazing.

“It would be a great way to end the season with all three of us winning a ring,” he said. “Last year it was only me and Angel but this time it’s going to be all three of us so we’re going to be able to share that experience. Nothing can really compare with the feeling when you win state, hopefully we all get to experience it together.”

Angel agrees.

“It would be amazing,” he said. “It would give us a sense of accomplishment and it would feel great to be able to share that with the family.”

Jorge and Perla have another boy, 11-year-old Daniel and a nephew – Jacob Ordonez who was part of the 2018 bronze medal team.

 “He’s a distance runner, too,” Maese said. “So we expect him to go out there and help us out at some point.”

However, this Maese will run alone.

“He won’t be able to run with his brothers; we didn’t calculate that one correctly,” Maese joked. “So as of now, he’s the only one missing a state appearance in our house.”

High School Boy’s XC Poll: Week 10

Every Thursday, El Paso Running will utilize a point system to highlight El Paso’s top boy’s cross country runners.

The system is as follows: In a race of less than 150 runners, first place gets 10 points, second gets 9 points all the way down to 10th place which gets 1 point. For meets with between 150 to 300 runners, double points will be rewarded meaning 20 points for first, 19 for second all the way down to 1 point for 20th. For every additional 150 runners, another 10 runners will be included in the points.

For those who like raw times, we also list the Top 25 girls race times and the meets and dates that they occurred.

For questions, videos and photos email vrmart66@gmail.com.

This week’s schedule

UIL Cross Country State Championship: Friday, Nov. 5 for Class 3A and 5A and Saturday, Nov. 6 for Class 4A and 6A at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

Hundreds of runners from all over Region 1 converged on Lubbock on Monday, all hoping to earn a spot to the UIL State Cross Country Championship.

Top 10

1. Eastwood: The Troopers had two top 10 runners – seniors Andres Gurrola (fourth, 15:46.0) and Isaac Mendoza (tenth, 16:01.6) – and finished second at the Region 1-6A Championship behind Southlake Carroll. Senior Victor Anchondo had a top 30 regional showing, finishing 30th in 16:36.4. Eastwood’s team average was 16:22.2. This will be Eastwood’s eighth consecutive trip to state and the ninth in 10 years.

2. Americas: The Trailblazers finished sixth at the Region 1-6A Meet. Seniors Jared Laverty (11th, 16:02.5) and Carmelo Corral (16th, 16:08.0) both qualified to state. Senior Aaron Saenz was 29th in 16:34.9. The team’s average was 16:44.9.

3. San Elizario: The Eagles earned a team silver at the Region 1-4A Championship, scoring 97 points, 12 points behind Canyon. Junior Chris Moreno won the region in 15:40.9 – the fastest El Paso time in any classification. San Elizario had four other runners – junior Matthew Maese (21st, 17:01.4), sophomore Angel Maese (23rd, 17:05.9), senior Alan Ceballos (25th, 17:09.3) and senior Irvin Vazquez (27th, 17:16.9) – finish in the top 30. The team’s average was 16:50.9. San Elizario will compete in its eighth straight state championship.

4. Franklin: The Cougars finished the season with an 11th place finish at the Region 1, Class 6A Championship. Junior Diego Flores was the top Franklin runner, finishing 28th in 16:34.5. The team average was 17:14.0.

5. Coronado: Junior Luis Pastor finished fifth at the Region 1-6A Championship in 15:47.0 and qualified for state. Senior Sam Breceda was 55th in 17:02.1.

6. Cathedral:  The Irish are preparing TAPPS State Championship Monday,Nov. 1 at Cottonwood Creek Golf Course, Waco.

7. Riverside: The Rangers finished fifth – one spot away from advancing to state -at the Region 1-4A Championship with 173 points. Riverside had two top 10 runners – seniors Andrew Valdiviezo (fourth, 16:10.2) and Jayden Bustillos (sixth, 16:15.7) – both qualify to state. Bustillos’ time is a personal best. Senior Jostin Briones had a top 40 run, finishing 37th in 17:35.5. The team average was 17:19.1.

8. Pebble Hills:  Junior Omer Ibrahim led all El Paso runners at the Region 1-6A Championship, finishing with a bronze medal in 15:45.3.

9. Hanks: The Knights were the top El Paso 5A school finishing 14th in the Region 1-5A race with 384 points. Senior Gael Alvarado (13th, 16:23.7) and junior Alejandro Tarin (16th, 16.29.1) both advanced to state. The team average was 18:03.2.

10. Burges: The Mustangs placed 16th in the Region 1-5A race. Burges had two top 50 runners – senior Julian Maldonado (45th, 17:19.8) and junior Mathew Guerra (46th, 17:21.0). The team average was 18:17.3.

Dropped out: Horizon.

On the brink: None.

These five runners have been city leaders in teams and overall performance all season.

Top times (3 mile or 5K)

1, Andres Gurrola, Eastwood, 14.43.8 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

2, Isaac Mendoza, Eastwood, 14.49.7 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

3, Omer Ibrahim, Pebble Hills, 15:02.15 (Del Valle, 8/28).

4, Israel David, Eastlake, 15:02.73 (Del Valle, 8/28).

5, Luis Pastor, Coronado, 15:04.79 (Del Valle, 8/28).

6, Devon Paez, Eastwood, 15:13.6 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

7, Victor Anchondo, Eastwood, 15:16.8 (Woodbridge, 9/18)

8, Jared Laverty, Americas, 15:24.83 (Canutillo, 8/21).

9, Joaquin Chavez, Eastwood, 15:28.0 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

10, Chris Moreno, San Elizario, 15:38.71 (Del Valle, 8/28).

11, Angel Torres, Tornillo, 15:41.47 (Clint, 10/2).

12, Carmelo Corral, Americas, 15:41.95 (Canutillo, 8/21).

13, Daniel Romero, Tornillo, 15:44.07 (Del Valle, 8/28).

14, Andrew Valdiviezo, Riverside, 15:44.47 (Clint, 10/2).

15, Jacob Becket, Eastwood, 15:44.8 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

16, Diego Flores, Franklin, 15:51.32 (Mary Francis Keisling, 9/11).

17, Anthony Casillas, Eastwood, 15:52.3 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

18, Alejandro Tarin, Hanks, 16:01.51 (Shawver Park, 9/4).

19, Aaron Saenz, Americas 16:04.0 (Cleveland, 8/28).

20, Preston Arnett, Cathedral, 16:15.52 (Clint, 10/2).

21, Jayden Bustillos, Riverside, 16:15.7 (Mae Simmons, 10/25).

22, Austen Percifull, Franklin, 16:16.35 (Mary Francis Keisling, 9/11).

23, Gael Alvarado, Hanks, 16:19.03 (Shawver Park, 9/4).

24, Isaac Romero, Franklin, 16:22.86 (Southlake, 8/28).

25, Matthew Maese, San Elizario, 16:28.43 (Clint, 10/2).

Senior Aaron Saenz has been a steady No. 3 man for Americas. His 16:04.0 ranks in the top 20 in El Paso.

Power rankings
(number parenthesis indicate meets won):

1, Luis Pastor, Coronado, 88 (3).

2, Omer Ibrahim, Pebble Hills, 83 (6).

3, Chris Moreno, San Elizario, 67 (3).

4, Jared Laverty, Americas, 66 (4).

5, Alejandro Tarin, Hanks, 57.

6, Andrew Valdiviezo, Riverside, 55.

7, Daniel Romero, Tornillo, 54.

8, Angel Torres, Tornillo, 49 (3).

9, Andres Gurrola, Eastwood, 45.

10, Gael Alvarado, Hanks, 45 (1).

Diego Flores, Franklin, 40 (1).

Carmelo Corral, Americas, 40.

Isaac Mendoza, Eastwood, 40.

Jayden Bustillos, Riverside, 38.

Israel David, Eastlake, 34.

Austen Percifull, Franklin, 20.

Aaron Saenz, Americas, 19.

Seth Truax, Chapin, 19.

Matthew Maese, San Elizario, 17.

Julian Maldonado, Burges, 17 (1).

Preston Arnett, Cathedral, 15.

Israel Quintana, Immanuel, 15.

Devon Paez, Eastwood, 15.

David Ramirez, El Paso High, 15.

David Herrera, Burges, 14.

Jacob Noble, Cathedral, 12 (1).

Omar Rivera, Canutillo, 12.

Irvin Vazquez, San Elizario, 13.

Bernard Martinez, Cathedral, 10.

Elijah Noble, Cathedral, 10.

Rai Lopez, Franklin, 9.

Angel Maese, San Elizario, 9.

Matthew Engle, Franklin, 8.

Matthew Marshall, Eastwood, 8.

Sam Breceda, Coronado, 8.

Leo Valenzuela, El Paso High, 8.

Michael Castorena, Parkland, 8.

Joaquin Chavez, Eastwood, 7.

Frank Lozano, Franklin, 7.

Efren Moncada, Parkland, 7.

Carlos Mendez, Coronado, 6.

Matthew Guerra, Burges, 6.

Oscar Guzman, Franklin, 6.

Diego Espinoza, Cathedral, 6.

Alan Ceballos, San Elizario, 6.

Juan Linares, Horizon, 6.

Denovan Estrada, Franklin, 5.

Mario Elias, Eastlake, 5.

Sam Flores, Coronado, 5.

Aidan Hernandez, Eastlake, 5.  

Aydan Lugo, El Paso High, 5.

Aaron Gomez, Burges, 5.

Isai Barajas, Ysleta, 5.

Anthony Casillas, Eastwood, 4.

Dauntae Herrera, Chapin, 4.

Dylan Lorilla, Cathedral, 4.

Venancio Calderon, El Dorado, 4.

Bryan Estrada, Eastlake, 3.

Antonio Palos, Irvin, 3.

Jorge Maese, San Eli, 3.

Alexander Flores, Eastwood, 2.

Victor Anchondo, Eastwood, 2.

Sebastian Gonzalez, Franklin, 2.

Rene Renteria, Americas, 2.            

Juan Leal, Franklin, 2.

Luis Martinez, Irvin, 2.

Kevin Perez, Riverside, 2.

Heiden Pereda, Eastwood, 2.

Braulio Torres, Chapin, 2.

Yahir Barrios, Horizon, 2.

Isaac Romero, Franklin, 1.

Jesse Morales, Americas, 1.

Mauricio Cuartes, Eastwood, 1.

Evan Avitia, Americas, 1.

Jostin Briones, Riverside, 1.

Santiago Cadena, Horizon, 1.

Region 1 roundup: Eastwood, San Eli boys, Tornillo girls and 16 individuals advance to state

What’s Next

What: UIL Cross Country State Championship.

When: Friday, Nov. 5 for Class 3A and 5A and Saturday, Nov. 6 for Class 4A and 6A at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

Who advanced?

Boys

Class 6A: Eastwood. Also, Omer Ibrahim, Pebble Hills; Luis Pastor, Coronado and Jared Laverty and Carmelo Corral, Americas.

Class 5A: Gael Alvarado and Alejandro Tarin, Hanks.

Class 4A: San Elizario and Riverside’s Andrew Valdivierzo and Jayden Bustillos.

Class 3A: Tornillo’s Daniel Romero and Angel Torres.

Girls

Class 6A: Lauren Walls-Portillo and Adelynn Rodriguez, Eastwood;Alyssa Laspada, Franklin.

Class 5A: Pamela Ramirez, Burges and Crystal Peterson, Jefferson.

Class 4A: Samantha Ramirez, San Elizario.

Class 3A: Tornillo.

All five men in this photo will be running for a Class 6A state championship on Nov. 6.

The Eastwood and San Elizario boys earned silver team medals and the Tornillo girls made school history – AGAIN – qualifying for state for the first time at the Region 1 Cross Country Championship at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock on Monday.

Sixteen individual runners not on a qualifying team also advanced to the UIL Cross Country State Championship Nov. 5 and Nov. 6 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

Class 6A

Eastwood seniors Andres Gurrola and Isaac Mendoza paced the Troopers finishing fourth (15:46.0) and tenth (16:01.6) but could not overcome solid performances by Southlake Carroll’s 4-5-6 runners and eventually finished second with 98 points.

Southlake Carroll won the region with 75 points. Plano West was third with 123 points and Propser captured the final spot to state, scoring a 148.

Americas was sixth with 193 points and Franklin was 11th with 295 points.

“Anytime you make it to state and run that close to a team like Southlake Carroll it’s a good meet,” said Eastwood coach Mike McLain. “I’ve very proud of them. This team is very much overperforming expectations.”

McLain said there is room for improvement.

“We’ll switch some workouts up that can make us a little sharper,” he said. “I think they have an excellent chance to medal which is a big deal in 6A.”

This will be Eastwood’s eighth consecutive trip to state and the ninth time in 10 years.

Pebble Hills junior Omer Ibrahim led all El Paso runners, finishing third in 15:45.3. Coronado junior Luis Pastor was fifth in 15:47.0 and Americas’ seniors Jared Laverty and Carmelo Corral finished 11th (16:02.5) and 16th (16:08.0).

“I wasn’t at my best, I was struggling a bit but it felt good to finish in the top three,” Ibrahim said. “I was nervous before the race but I was still excited to be able to run regionals, I haven’t been able to do that in the past two years.”

Entering the race, Ibrahim said he was hoping for a top 10 finish and to qualify for state.

“I was happy that I qualified for state because that’s what I went there to do,” he said.

Hudson Heikkinen from Plano West won in 15:25.3 and Abilene’s Andruw Villa was second in 15:26.1.

Eastwood, Ibrahim, Pastor, Laverty and Corral all qualified for state.

Eastwood senior Lauren Walls-Portillo earned a silver medal, finishing in 18:05.1 at the Region 1-6A Championship. She has been to state all four years of her high school career.

On the girl’s side, Franklin narrowly missed out on its third straight state appearance.

The team finished tied for fourth with Northwest Eaton with 167 points but Eaton advances on the strength of its sixth runner finishing before Franklin’s sixth runner.

Eastwood was sixth with 198 points and Coronado was 20th with 480 points.

Three El Paso runners qualified for state as individuals.

Eastwood senior Lauren Walls-Portillo earned a silver medal, finishing in 18:05.1 behind Natalie Cook of Flower Mound (16:39.9), Eastwood freshman Adelynn Rodriguez was All Region after her sixth-place finish (18:28.6) and Franklin junior Alyssa Laspada advances to state placing 20th in 19:28.0.

“They have really driven each other this year,” McLain said of Walls-Portillo and Rodriguez. “With the boys, we’ve been able to create competition with each other. Competition will make you better.  Lauren has had great improvement through her four years but there really hasn’t been anybody on the team who is as fast as her. Adelynn has given her someone not only to workout with, but to compete with. That has made them both better.”

Jefferson’s Crystal Peterson finished 13th in 19:36.5 at the Region 1-5A Championship and advanced to her third state meet.

Class 5A

Four runners survived Region 1 and will be running at the state meet in two weeks.

Hanks’ teammates senior Gael Alvarado and junior Alejandro Tarin, Burges senior Pamela Ramirez and Jefferson senior Crystal Peterson earned spots to state.

Alvarado was 13th in 16:23.7, Tarin was 16th in 16:29.1, Ramirez was eighth in 19:16.4 and Peterson was 13th in 19:36.5.

The Hanks boys were the top El Paso 5A team, placing 14th with 384 points followed by Burges (16th, 399), Chapin (17th, 422), Horizon (18th, 466), El Paso (19th, 485) and Bel Air (22nd, 561).

Jefferson was the top El Paso 5A school placing seventh with 262 points followed by Canutillo (10th, 319), Del Valle (15th, 363), Hanks (16th, 369) and Burges (17th, 377).

San Elizario junior Chris Moreno won the Region 1-4A championship. He is the next in line in a long list of regional champions at the Cotton Valley School.

Class 4A

San Elizario junior Chris Moreno won the Region 1-4A championship in overwhelming fashion, racing to a 14-second margin of victory, finishing the course in 15:40.9.

Moreno also helped the Eagles to a silver team medal finishing 12 points behind Canyon with 97 points. Big Spring was third with 117 points and Argyle was fourth with 126 points.

“We lost Edwin (Gomez) and Dilan (Sanchez), our No. 1 and No. 2 runners so I knew this would be our rebuilding year,” San Elizario coach Cesar Morales said. “We start off slow almost every year because many of our kids go to Mexico or they work in the summer so we can’t workout. For us, our season begins when school starts, that’s why we start slow.”

 Morales knew the season would be difficult.

“I told the kids that regionals would be tough,” he said. “This was really an eye-opener for them. All we wanted to do was qualify so that would give us two weeks to prepare for state. I wanted to use this race to see if we really had a chance to medal at state. You have no idea how pleased I am. There was only a 15-second gap between my second and fifth guy, which was very good.”

Moreno’s individual regional title is San Elizario’s fourth in five years.

“Since Michael Johnson, Erick Arambula, Edwin Gomez and now Chris, I have been fortunate to always have a top runner,” Morales said.

The Eagles will be making its eighth straight trip to state.

Riverside seniors Andrew Valdiviezo and Jayden Bustillos also qualified for state – both finishing in the top 10.

Valdiviezo was fourth in 16:10.02 and Bustillos was sixth in 16:15.7.

Riverside was fifth with 173 and Valle Verde Early College was 23rd with 654 points.

San Elizario’s Samantha Ramirez finished in 15th place in 12:52.2 and qualified for her first state appearance.

“Since the beginning of the season she has been on a mission to qualify for state,” Morales said. “We know it’s going to be difficult but her goal is to finish in the top 20. She has been hitting personal bests every week for the past six weeks and she wants to do the same at state and hopefully earn a scholarship.”

San Elizario finished 12th in the region with 305 points, Riverside was 15th with 466 points and El Paso Young Women’s Academy was 22nd with 644 points.

Tornillo continues to write the cross country record back – advancing to state for the first time in school history.

Class 3A

Tornillo’s girls qualified as a team for the first time in school history, finishing fourth with 178 points – two points ahead of Bushland.

“When the unofficial results where published, we were up by one point,” said Tornillo coach Jesse Garcia. “The scary part is when its unofficial, you don’t know if they missed a kid at the finish line so they have to go back to the camera to make sure they didn’t. If they do, they fix it and then it becomes official. I’ve seen teams switch positions because they missed a kid. I’m glad that didn’t happen to us.”

Garcia waited to share the news with the team until it did become official.

“When we walked up to the girls, they looked spent, like they just went through a war,” he said. “They saw my reaction and heard me yelling with my phone up in the air and they yelled, ‘We made, it, we made it.’ It was a moment of euphoria, we were so grateful, it was feeling I can’t describe.”

Holliday won the region with 31 points followed by Crane (132) and Canadian (148).

Junior Kylene Elias ran a 2-mile time of 13:15.6, good for 10th place, to lead the Coyotes.

For the first time in nine years, the boys did not qualify as a team, finishing 13th with 326 points.

Tuscola Jim Ned won the region with 87 points followed by Presidio (120), Amarillo River Road (202) and Crane (203).

However, all is not lost as sophomore Daniel Romero and junior Angel Torres reached qualifying times to advance.

Romero was third in 16:48.0 and Torres 14th in 18:14.1.

“They had somewhat of a bad race, it happens, but they still have the potential to medal at state,” Garcia said. “Daniel was in the mix to the very end. It came down to last 400 meters and it got away from him. Angel’s bad race took Daniel by surprise because they always work together. Angel is going to redeem himself, he knows what he has to do, those lessons had to be learned. He was humbled by it but hopefully it will make him a better runner.”

Boys Region 1 Preview:  Traditional regional and state powers take on Region 1

What: Region 1 Cross Country Championship.

When: Monday, Oct. 25 at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock. Girl’s start times (Mountain Time): 4A, 8 a.m.; 5A, 9 a.m.; 6A, 10 a.m.; 3A, 1 p.m. Boys start times: 4A, 8:30 a.m.; 5A, 9:30 a.m.; 6A 10:30 a.m. 3A, 1:30 p.m.

Where: Mae Simmons Park, MLK Blvd. and 24th Street in Lubbock.

At Stake: Top four teams and top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the UIL Cross Country State Championship, Saturday Nov. 6 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

Who advanced?

The following boy’s teams and runners have advanced:

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; Omar Rivera, Canutillo.

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

Class 3A: Tornillo.

The Region 1 Cross Country Championship begins on Monday at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock with a trip to the UIL State Championship at stake.

The traditional El Paso and state powers will make their presence known at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock on Monday.

Eastwood and Americas in Class 6A, San Elizario in Class 4A and Tornillo in Class 3A will all be vying for another trip to the UIL Cross Country State Championship on Nov. 6 at Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock.

The Region 1 Cross Country Championship begins on Monday.

San Elizario is working toward defending its Class 4A state title, Eastwood is hoping to improve on their Class 6A runner-up finish from last year and Eastlake senior Israel David is shooting for another opportunity to return to the state medal stand after finishing with a bronze at last year’s Class 6A race.

But first, they must get through the toughest region in the state – Region 1, the Region of Doom.

Six individual runners – Riverside junior Andrew Valdiviezo, Eastlake junior Israel David Eastlake, a pair of Americas runners (junior Jared Laverty and senior Michael Mier), Eastwood junior Lauren Walls-Portillo and Montwood junior Kassandra Jimenez – also punched their tickets to Round Rock.

Here is what’s in store for this year’s regional boy’s races:

Eastwood seniors Andres Gurrola (left) and Isaac Mendoza (right), along with Americas senior Carmelo Corral (center), will race for a spot to state.

Class 6A

Eastwood finished three points away from its third straight Region 1 championship last year, finishing right behind Southlake Carroll in the Region of Doom.

Americas finished fourth with 109 points and would have advanced to its third straight state championship meet but due to the pandemic, only the top three teams advanced.

The Troopers won Class 5A regionals in 2018 and 2019 before leaping back to 6A last year.

With a healthy, senior-laden team, Eastwood looks to return to state for the ninth time in 10 years and its eighth in row.

After losing four of its top five runners, Eastwood has been in reload mode.

“Everyone had low expectations for us this year,” said senior Isaac Mendoza, the lone returning top five runner. “A lot of people thought we would be done this year and we wouldn’t be competitive. We wanted to prove them wrong so we put in the work in the summer and we held each other accountable. Nothing beats work.  If you don’t put in the work, you won’t go get the results – and all of us put in the work this year.”

Eastwood finished the 2020 season with a Class 6A state silver medal, just six points behind Southlake Carroll.

Americas and Franklin, Pebble Hills junior Omer Ibrahim, Eastlake senior Israel David, Coronado junior Luis Pastor and Coronado senior Sam Breceda will also compete for an opportunity to advance to state.

“The boys have made great strides this year,” Franklin coach Anthony Laspada said. “Last year we had some injuries at district but we had some young kids fill in nicely for them so that helped us going forward. Just to see that light click has been amazing. I’m really excited to see what they can do going forward.”

David finished sixth in 16:10.60 and Americas senior Jared Laverty finished 14th at last year’s regional (16:24.70) and both advanced to state.

Ibrahim, the District 1-6A champion, is looking forward to his first regional appearance.

“The Lubbock meet was kind of like a regional preview so I know the course,” he said of Mae Simmons Park. “We saw a lot of the teams that are going to be there on Monday so I’ll do what I did last time and I should be good.”

Ibrahim, who has won a city-best six individual titles this season, gained a huge confidence booster winning the Nike South Invitational at The Woodlands.

“I thought I was a lot farther behind the state and national runners,” he said. “I didn’t realize I was going to be able to compete with all the big teams and the runners. Knowing that I can has helped my confidence and now I know I can do more.”

Hanks and Chapin are two teams to watch at the Region 1-5A Championship on Monday.

Class 5A

Last year was a difficult one for the Class 5A boys when zero teams and only three individuals advance to state.

Hanks junior Alejandro Tarin is the only 5A runner (16th, 17:23.30 at last year’s regional) with an opportunity to return to state.

Tarin finished second (17:44.39) at this year’s District 2-5A race behind senior teammate Gael Alvarado who defending his title in 17:24.17.

Burges, Horizon, El Paso High, Hanks, Chapin and Bel Air, along with Parkland juniors Michael Castorena and Efren Moncada, Ysleta sophomore Isai Barajas, El Dorado senior Venancio Calderon and Canutillo sophomore Omar Rivera will do their best to advance to state.

“Last year, due to the COVID pandemic, my morale was 100 percent down and I didn’t have the motivation to run,” Tarin said. “It definitely helps now that the pandemic has subsided a little bit. Running together as a team again together has definitely brought my confidence and morale up. We’ll going to give it our all and see where we end up.”

Burges was the top El Paso team last year finishing seventh, Hanks was eleventh, Bel Air was fourteenth and and El Paso High was fifteenth.

San Elizario and Riverside will represent District 1-4A at the Region 1-4A Championship.

Class 4A

San Elizario, the defending Class 4A state champions, have won six of the past seven regional titles – its only blemish was a third-place finish in 2018.

“Regionals is going to very tough,” said Cesar Morales, San Elizario’s head coach. “We haven’t competed against any of those schools in the east but according to what we’ve seen in the statistics, they are all very good, just like every year. We just have to go out and do what we’ve been doing in practice.”

Also competing are Riverside and Valle Verde Early College.

The Eagles are seeking its eighth straight trip to state.

District 1-4A champion junior Chris Moreno finished 13th in 17:17.10 at last year’s regionals.

“From what we’ve seen, Argyle will be our toughest competition just like they were last year,” he said. “We know for us to win state, we have to continue to work hard in practice. This is not all we have to give; we have a lot more in the tank. Our goal is to win another state title but we’ll see what happens at regionals.”

Riverside’s Andrews Valdiviezo was fourth in 16:47.00 last year and advanced to state. Riverside finished seventh as a team.

Tornillo junior Angel Torres won the Class 4A Division at the Lubbock Invitational, earlier this year. He hopes to improve on his seventh place finish at the 2020 Class 3A regional.

Class 3A

Tornillo escaped Region 1 with a third-place finish and a trip to the UIL State Cross Country Championship last year.

It was the Coyotes 11th state appearance in 12 years.

At last year’s regional, Tornillo had two runners – sophomore Daniel Romero (fourth, 17:35.90) and junior Angel Torres (seventh, 17:42.70) – finish in the top 10.

With very little behind that 1-2 punch, Tornillo – as a team – could be left out.

However, Torres and Romero could very likely win individual medals at regionals and the state meet.

High School Boy’s XC Poll: Week 9

Every Thursday, El Paso Running will utilize a point system to highlight El Paso’s top boy’s cross country runners.

The system is as follows: In a race of less than 150 runners, first place gets 10 points, second gets 9 points all the way down to 10th place which gets 1 point. For meets with between 150 to 300 runners, double points will be rewarded meaning 20 points for first, 19 for second all the way down to 1 point for 20th. For every additional 150 runners, another 10 runners will be included in the points.

For those who like raw times, we also list the Top 25 girls race times and the meets and dates that they occurred.

For questions, videos and photos email vrmart66@gmail.com.

This week’s schedule

Region 1 Cross Country Meet: Monday, Oct. 25 at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock. Girl’s start times (Mountain Time): 4A, 8 a.m.; 5A, 9 a.m.; 6A, 10 a.m.; 3A, 1 p.m. Boys start times: 4A, 8:30 a.m.; 5A, 9:30 a.m.; 6A 10:30 a.m. 3A, 1:30 p.m.

With the district championships behind them, El Paso’s runners are now focused on regionals in Lubbock on Monday and state on Nov. 6 in Round Rock.

Top 10

1. Eastwood: The Troopers had three senior 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. The team average was 17:30.06. Eastwood will now race in the Region 1-6A Meet Monday in Lubbock.

2. Americas: The Trailblazers – led by seniors Jared Laverty (sixth, 17:20.98) and Carmelo Corral (tenth, 17:38.73) – finished second in District 1-6A with 71 points. Its team average was 17:56.93. They too advance to the Region 1-6A Meet in Lubbock.

3. Franklin: The Cougars are the third team out of District 1-6A to qualify to regionals after scoring 76 points, five behind Americas. Junior Diego Flores was the low-point man for Franklin, finishing eighth in 17:34.67. The team average was 18:04.99.

4. San Elizario: The Eagles earned its eighth District 1-4A title in dominating fashion, scoring 22 points and placing six runners in the top 10. Junior Chris Moreno won the event 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. San Elizario’s team average was 17:50.91. San Elizario will race in the Region 1-4A Meet Monday in Lubbock.

5. Coronado: The T-Birds finished four points behind Franklin and placed fourth in District 1-6A. Coronado had two runners – junior Luis Pastor (third, 16:30.12) and senior Sam Breceda (ninth, 17:37.58)finish in the top 10 and qualify for regionals. Coronado’s team averge was 18:04.43.

6. Cathedral:  The Irish are preparing TAPPS State ChampionshipNov. 1 at Cottonwood Creek Golf Course, Waco.

7. Riverside: The Rangers finished second in the District 1-4A race with 37 points. Senior Andrew Valdiviezo was second in 16:58.27, senior Jayden Bustillos was fourth in 17:46.05 and junior Kevin Perez was ninth in 19:03.93. The team average was 18:37.58. They will compete in the Region 1-4A race in Lubbock.

8. Pebble Hills: The Spartans placed fifth in a loaded District 1-6A with a team average of 18:33.58. Junior Omer Ibrahim won the individual championship in a time of 16:14.28 and will advance to the Region 1-6A meet in Lubbock.

9. Burges: The Mustangs are back in the top 10 after winning its fifth consecutive District 1-5A championship with 28 points. Burges took four of the top six spots including the top two with senior Julian Maldonado winning his first district championship in 18:17.19 followed bysenior David Herrera (18:29.97). Junior  Matthew Guerra was fifth in 18:56.09 and senior Aaron Gomez was sixth in 18:57.39. The team will now compete at the Region 1-5A meet in Lubbock.

10. The Double H’s: Hanks and Horizon share the 10th spot. Horizon won its first District 2-5A championship since 2008. 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). Hanks was second in the district but had the better team average (19:15.30 to 19:32.04) due to its top two runners finishing 1-2.  Senior Gael Alvarado defended his title in 17:44.39 and junior Alejandro Tarin was second in 17:44.39. Both teams will compete in the Region 1-5A championship in Lubbock.

Dropped out: El Paso High.

On the brink: None.

Riverside senior Andrew Valdiviezo (center) has been the leader of the Rangers cross country the past two years. He will lead the team into the Region 1-4A championship on Monday.

Top times (3 mile or 5K)

1, Andres Gurrola, Eastwood, 14.43.8 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

2, Isaac Mendoza, Eastwood, 14.49.7 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

3, Omer Ibrahim, Pebble Hills, 15:02.15 (Del Valle, 8/28).

4, Israel David, Eastlake, 15:02.73 (Del Valle, 8/28).

5, Luis Pastor, Coronado, 15:04.79 (Del Valle, 8/28).

6, Devon Paez, Eastwood, 15:13.6 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

7, Victor Anchondo, Eastwood, 15:16.8 (Woodbridge, 9/18)

8, Jared Laverty, Americas, 15:24.83 (Canutillo, 8/21).

9, Joaquin Chavez, Eastwood, 15:28.0 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

10, Chris Moreno, San Elizario, 15:38.71 (Del Valle, 8/28).

11, Angel Torres, Tornillo, 15:41.47 (Clint, 10/2).

12, Carmelo Corral, Americas, 15:41.95 (Canutillo, 8/21).

13, Daniel Romero, Tornillo, 15:44.07 (Del Valle, 8/28).

14, Andrew Valdiviezo, Riverside, 15:44.47 (Clint, 10/2).

15, Jacob Becket, Eastwood, 15:44.8 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

16, Diego Flores, Franklin, 15:51.32 (Mary Francis Keisling, 9/11).

17, Anthony Casillas, Eastwood, 15:52.3 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

18, Alejandro Tarin, Hanks, 16:01.51 (Shawver Park, 9/4).

19, Aaron Saenz, Americas 16:04.0 (Cleveland, 8/28).

20, Preston Arnett, Cathedral, 16:15.52 (Clint, 10/2).

21, Austen Percifull, Franklin, 16:16.35 (Mary Francis Keisling, 9/11).

22, Gael Alvarado, Hanks, 16:19.03 (Shawver Park, 9/4).

23, Isaac Romero, Franklin, 16:22.86 (Southlake, 8/28).

24, Jayden Bustillos, Riverside, 16:25.30 (Desert Twilight, 9/24).

25, Matthew Maese, San Elizario, 16:28.43 (Clint, 10/2).

Tornillo’s Angel Torres and San Elizario Chris Moreno have legitimate changes to win regionals and, perhaps, state gold.

Power rankings
(number parenthesis indicate meets won):

1, Luis Pastor, Coronado, 72 (3).

2, Omer Ibrahim, Pebble Hills, 65 (6).

3, Jared Laverty, Americas, 56 (4).

4, Alejandro Tarin, Hanks, 52.

5, Chris Moreno, San Elizario, 47 (2).

6, Angel Torres, Tornillo, 43 (3).

7, Diego Flores, Franklin, 40 (1).

8, Andrew Valdiviezo, Riverside, 38.

9, Gael Alvarado, Hanks, 37 (1).

10, Daniel Romero, Tornillo, 36.

Carmelo Corral, Americas, 35.

Israel David, Eastlake, 34.

Isaac Mendoza, Eastwood, 29.

Andres Gurrola, Eastwood, 28.

Jayden Bustillos, Riverside, 23.

Austen Percifull, Franklin, 20.

Aaron Saenz, Americas, 19.

Seth Truax, Chapin, 19.

Matthew Maese, San Elizario, 17.

Julian Maldonado, Burges, 17 (1).

Preston Arnett, Cathedral, 15.

Israel Quintana, Immanuel, 15.

Devon Paez, Eastwood, 15.

David Ramirez, El Paso High, 15.

David Herrera, Burges, 14.

Jacob Noble, Cathedral, 12 (1).

Omar Rivera, Canutillo, 12.

Irvin Vazquez, San Elizario, 13.

Bernard Martinez, Cathedral, 10.

Elijah Noble, Cathedral, 10.

Rai Lopez, Franklin, 9.

Angel Maese, San Elizario, 9.

Matthew Engle, Franklin, 8.

Matthew Marshall, Eastwood, 8.

Sam Breceda, Coronado, 8.

Leo Valenzuela, El Paso High, 8.

Michael Castorena, Parkland, 8.

Joaquin Chavez, Eastwood, 7.

Frank Lozano, Franklin, 7.

Efren Moncada, Parkland, 7.

Carlos Mendez, Coronado, 6.

Matthew Guerra, Burges, 6.

Oscar Guzman, Franklin, 6.

Diego Espinoza, Cathedral, 6.

Alan Ceballos, San Elizario, 6.

Juan Linares, Horizon, 6.

Denovan Estrada, Franklin, 5.

Mario Elias, Eastlake, 5.

Sam Flores, Coronado, 5.

Aidan Hernandez, Eastlake, 5.  

Aydan Lugo, El Paso High, 5.

Aaron Gomez, Burges, 5.

Isai Barajas, Ysleta, 5.

Anthony Casillas, Eastwood, 4.

Dauntae Herrera, Chapin, 4.

Dylan Lorilla, Cathedral, 4.

Venancio Calderon, El Dorado, 4.

Bryan Estrada, Eastlake, 3.

Antonio Palos, Irvin, 3.

Jorge Maese, San Eli, 3.

Alexander Flores, Eastwood, 2.

Victor Anchondo, Eastwood, 2.

Sebastian Gonzalez, Franklin, 2.

Rene Renteria, Americas, 2.            

Juan Leal, Franklin, 2.

Luis Martinez, Irvin, 2.

Kevin Perez, Riverside, 2.

Heiden Pereda, Eastwood, 2.

Braulio Torres, Chapin, 2.

Yahir Barrios, Horizon, 2.

Isaac Romero, Franklin, 1.

Jesse Morales, Americas, 1.

Mauricio Cuartes, Eastwood, 1.

Evan Avitia, Americas, 1.

Jostin Briones, Riverside, 1.

Santiago Cadena, Horizon, 1.

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.