El Paso’s top runners compete at NXR South; Ibrahim earns Top 10 finish

Pebble Hills’ Omer Ibrahim capped his junior year with a top 10 finish in the Championship Division at the Nike Cross South Regional, placing sixth in 15:40.4.

Pebble Hills junior Omer Ibrahim (left) was El Paso’s top runner at the Nike Cross South Regional, placing sixth.

Coronado junior Luis Pastor (14th, 15:54.9), Eastwood senior Andres Gurrola (19th, 16:01.6) and Americas senior Jared Laverty (24th, 16:08.9) were the only other top 25 runners.

Coronado’s Luis Pastor (in blue) had a top 15 finish at NXR South.

Grapevine, the Class 5A UIL state champion, won the team event with 66 points followed by Class 6A state champ Southlake Carroll (73 points), Class 6A runner-up The Woodlands (127 points) and Class 6A fourth place team Humble Atascocita, with 170 points.

Eastwood, which won Class 6A bronze, was fifth with 171 points and Class 4A state champion San Elizario was 19th with 449 points.

Eastwood, which won Class 6A bronze, was fifth at NXR South.

Sahil Dodda, from Dallas St. Marks, won the individual title in 15:15.3.

In the girls Championship Division, three El Paso runners finished in the top 25 including Eastwood senior Lauren Walls-Portillo (11th, 18:34.70), Eastwood freshman Adelynn Rodriguez (13th, 18:39.8) and Franklin junior Alyssa Laspada (24th, 19:07.0).

Lauren Walls-Portillo

Shewaye Johnson from Prosper won the individual title in 17:45.9.

Southlake Carroll won the team event with 95 points, Eastwood was 10th with 265 points and Franklin was 11th with 276 points. The Troopers are only the second girl’s team to finish in the top 10 at NXR. The other was Eastwood in 2013.

Alyssa Laspada

In the boys Open Division, four El Pasoans finished in the top 15 including Franklin junior Diego Flores who won the event in 16:36.8. A pair of teammates – junior Denovan Estrada (fifth, 16:49.0) and sophomore Matthew Engle (ninth 16:54.8) – had top 10 finishes and Riverside senior Jayden Bustillos was 11th in 16:57.0.

Franklin junior Diego Flores won the boys Open Division. The team finished second overall.

The Woodlands won the team title with 91 points followed by Franklin (108 points). Eastwood was 11th overall with 406 points and Cathedral was 16th with 462 points.

In the girl’s Open Division, San Elizario senior Samantha Ramirez was 14th in 20:26.7.

Samantha Ramirez

Keller Bear Creek’s Vivien Boehmer won the individual title in 19:21.7.

High School Girl’s XC Poll: Final

Every Wednesday, El Paso Running will utilize a point system to highlight El Paso’s top girls 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.

What a season for El Paso runners – all culminating at the UIL State Cross Country Championship.

Top 10

1. Franklin: Franklin continues to create its own identity not only in El Paso but in the region. The team narrowly missed out on its third straight state appearance and it appears some serious help is on the way.  Junior Alyssa Laspada was the lone runner to represent Franklin at the Class 6A state meet where she placed 62nd in 19:08.1. With Laspada and fellow juniors Sofia Camacho and Michele Paillard and sophomore Abby Barraza returning, the future remains bright.

2. Eastwood: Eastwood finished its team season in fifth place at the Region 1-6A championship. Freshman Adelynn Rodriguez and senior Lauren Walls-Portillo turned in All State performances at the Class 6A division of the state championship. Rodriguez finished seventh in 17:49.2 and Walls-Portillo was 10th in 18:10.3. Rodriguez will be the top returning runner for the Troopers with juniors Salma Licon, Sophia Watts and Andrea Limon, along with sophomore Giovanna Zubia also returning.

3. Montwood:  Juniors Kassandra Jimenez and Jazmine Miranda will return next season for the Rams.

4. Jefferson: The Foxes are going to have to reload after losing all six of its top runners including four-year varsity and state runners Crystal Peterson and Monique Correa.

5. Coronado: The T-Birds, which finished its season 20th in the Region 1, Class 6A championship, will be loaded next fall with six of its top seven returning. Senior Banah Abdeljaber will be missed, but juniors Kyra Walker, Sonya Lee, Isabella Galindo and Christina Duncan will return along with super sophomores Alexa Lawrence and Caroline Pitchkolan.  Watch from some great things from this group in 2022.

6. Pebble Hills: The Spartans were the surprise team of the season. All its runner will return in 2022 including the top three – junior Natalia Martinez, sophomore Carolina Zarrabal and freshman Krystal Talavera.

7. Canutillo: The Eagles finished 10th at the Region 1, Class 5A championship with 319 points. The team returns three of its top five including juniors Natalie Rivera, Dania Cano and Jennifer Najar.

8. Del Valle: After winning District 2-5A for the first time since 2010, the Conquistadores finished 15th at regionals. It looks like another rebuild is in order for Del Valle with only junior Valeria Loo-Kung and sophomore Bobbi Guillen returning from the team’s top five.

9. Americas: The Trailblazers season ended at district but freshman Lexee Salas finished 62nd in 20:38.3 at the Region 1-6A championship in Lubbock. Americas will lean on Salas and fellow freshman Natalie Tolliver in a very competitive District 1-6A.

10. Tornillo: The Coyotes made school history by winning their district, finishing fourth at the Region 1-3A Championship and advancing to its first ever state meet where they finished 11th.  The team returns juniors Kylene Elias and Brianna Ibarra and sophomore Nataly Escajeda.

Dropped out: None.

On the brink: None.

Franklin senior Jenna Saunders finished the season with the city’s 11th fastest time, clocking a 19:22.86 at the SAC in October.

Top times (3 mile or 5K)

1, Lauren Walls-Portillo, Eastwood, 17:17.6 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

2, Adelynn Rodriguez, Eastwood, 17:20.1 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

3, Kassandra Jimenez, Montwood, 18:28.29 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11)

4, Alyssa Laspada, Franklin, 18:30.07 (Southlake, 8/28).

5, Natalie Rivera, Canutillo, 18:52.86 (Clint, 10/2).

6, Pamela Ramirez, Burges, 18:59.11 (Del Valle, 8/28).

7, Jordan Torres, Franklin, 19:07.10 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

8, Natalia Martinez, Pebble Hills, 19:08.03 (Del Valle, 8/28).

9, Salma Licon, Eastwood, 19:10.4 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

10, Sophia Watts, Eastwood, 19:11.6 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

11, Jenna Saunders, Franklin, 19:22.86 (SAC, 10/2).

12, Abby Barraza, Franklin, 19:25.63 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

13, Crystal Peterson, Jefferson, 19:36.05 (Mae Simmons, 10/25).   

14, Ana Rojas, Socorro, 19:38.94 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

15, Adalia Olmos, Eastwood, 19:41.07 (Del Valle, 8/28).

16, Alexa Rangel, Montwood, 19:51.64 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

17, Mia Rivera, Hanks, 19:53.20 (Shawver Park, 9/4).

18, Jazmine Miranda, Montwood, 19:57.39 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

19, Anisa Sanchez, Del Valle, 19:57.84 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

20, Kyra Walker, Coronado, 19:58.38 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

21, Carolina Zarrabal, Pebble Hills, 19:58.92 (Del Valle, 8/28).

22, Sofia Camacho, Franklin, 20:03.13 (Canutillo, 8/21).

23, Giselle Rubio, Eastlake, 20:03.35 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

24, Valeria Loo-Kung, Del Valle, 20:04.76 (Clint, 10/2).

25, Monique Correa, Jefferson, 20:06.17 (SAC, 10/2).   

Hanks senior Mia Rivera had an amazing season, finishing as District 2-5A champion, a top 20 city best time and a No. 5 power ranking.

Power rankings
(number parenthesis indicate meets won):

1, Lauren Walls-Portillo, Eastwood, 74 (3).

2, Adelynn Rodriguez, Eastwood, 64 (1).

3, Pamela Ramirez, Burges, 63 (2).

3, Alyssa Laspada, Franklin, 63 (2).

5, Mia Rivera, Hanks, 52 (2).

6, Kassandra Jimenez, Montwood, 49 (2).

6, Crystal Peterson, Jefferson, 49.

8, Jordan Torres, Franklin, 47.

9, Natalie Rivera, Canutillo, 46 (2).

10, Jenna Saunders, Franklin, 42.

Natalia Martinez, Pebble Hills, 41 (1).

Samantha Ramirez, San Elizario, 39 (2).

Monique Correa, Jefferson, 39.

Anisa Sanchez, Del Valle, 39.

Valeria Loo-Kung, Del Valle, 31.

Kylene Elias, Tornillo, 29 (1).

Abby Barraza, Franklin, 29.

Alexa Rangel, Montwood, 27.

Disany Sandoval, Del Valle, 20.

Katelyn Montoya, San Elizario, 20.

Andrea Castillo, El Paso High, 17.

Madelyn Estrada, Mt. View, 17.

Sofia Camacho, Franklin, 16.

Carolina Zarrabal, Pebble Hills, 16.

Dania Cano, Canutillo, 15.

Olivia Garcia, Tornillo, 15.
Elizabeth Hernandez, Austin, 14.

Abigail Murillo, Bel Air, 13.

Ana Rojas, Socorro, 11.

Sofia Ramirez, El Paso High, 11.

Brooke McCune, Franklin, 10 (1).

Lexee Salas, Americas, 10.

Jaylee Levario, Bel Air, 10.

Osmary Vazquez, San Elizario, 10.

Olivia Elder, Franklin, 9.

Lauren Perez, Riverside, 9.

Jeanette Rivera, YWLA, 8.

Wendy Garcia, Tornillo, 7.

Camila Prieto, Jefferson, 7.

Sarah Lopez Touchy, Ysleta, 7.

Marcela Hernandez, Riverside, 6.

Alexa Lawrence, Coronado, 6.

Tessa Gibbons, Franklin, 6.

Brianna Ibarra, Tornillo, 6.

Adalia Olmos, Eastwood, 5.

Jennifer Najar, Canutillo, 5.

Mariah Martinez, Loretto, 5.

Sofia Hernandez, Jefferson, 5.

Salma Licon, Eastwood, 5.

Abigail Murillo, Bel Air, 5.

Natalie Franco, Pebble Hills, 4.

Kyra Walker, Coronado, 4.

Natalia Valdez, Chapin, 4.

Nataly Escajeda, Tornillo, 4.

Daniela Luna, Riverside, 4.

Jezarae Valenzuela, El Paso High 4.

Allison Perez, Coronado, 3.

Jazmine Miranda, Montwood, 3.

Mireyda Samer, Franklin, 3.

Alicia Chavez, YWLA, 3.

Giselle Rubio, Eastlake, 2.

Caroline Pitchkolan, Coronado, 2.

Sophia Watts, Eastwood, 2.

Ileana Maldonado, Clint, 2.

Hannah Martinez, Franklin, 2.

Ivy Lara, Canutillo, 2.

Ximena Holguin, San Elizario, 1.

Grace Kimble, Franklin, 1.

Amy Lozano, Burges, 1.

Ashley Hernandez, San Elizario, 1.

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.”

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: Tornillo girls just want to have fun!

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.

For the first time in school history Tornillo’s girls advanced to the UIL State Cross Country Championship.

Tornillo High School is making its 12th state appearance in the past 13 years – its 10th in a row.

But for the first time in school history, it’s the girl’s team who is carrying the Cotton Valley torch to Round Rock.

“Six weeks ago, we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” Tornillo coach Jesse Garcia said. “Six weeks ago, we weren’t even in the mix. The possibility of us going to the state championship didn’t exist.”

But it is happening.

After winning its first District 3-4A Championship, the Coyotes finished two points ahead of Bushland at Regionals and advanced to the UIL State Cross Country Championship.

The team – seniors Olivia Garcia, Wendy Garcia and Abetsi Blanco, juniors Kylene Elias and Brianna Ibarra and sophomore Nataly Escajeda – will race at 9 a.m. Friday.

The turning point for the team was the return of All State runner Kylene Elias in late September.

Elias, who won the Region 1, Class 3A championship and earned a bronze medal at the state championship as a freshman, finished 14th at last year’s state meet.

With a promising final two seasons on the horizon, Elias decided running was not for her.

“I never gave up on her; I kept all her gear in her team backpack,” Garcia said. “I told her it was there when she was ready to come back – and she did.”

Halfway through the season Elias saw a spark in her teammates that she had never seen.

Then it happened.

“One day, out of the blue, she wanted to give it a shot and she showed up to practice,” Garcia said. “The team showed her some love and they started to have fun again. It wasn’t about just running it was about enjoying the moment that was in front of them.”

Elias took a few months to clear her head and figure things out.

“I really didn’t like running anymore,” she said. “There was just too much pressure to win. Coach called me and told me the girls were doing good. He asked me to come back and help the team get to state and I said yes.”

She trained for three days and went off to Denton to race in the Texas MileSplit Invitational where she finished fifth to the last.

“That was the worst race I had ever run in my life,” she said, laughing. “I was not conditioned at all.”

Tornillo junior Kylene Elias will racing in her third UIL State Cross Country Championship. She finished third her freshman year.

With the support of her team, Elias continued to train eventually winning her third district title and placing 10th at the Region 1-4A championship.

“It felt like I never left,” she said. “The girls have always been there for me. I thought about it a lot and I felt I needed to be there from them this year, so I came back.”

Having fun is what matters now and the team gets positive results, that’s just an added bonus.

“We run for fun now,” Elias said. “We used to put a lot of pressure on ourselves; we wanted to win so bad we put too much pressure on ourselves, and it wasn’t fun anymore.”

The Tornillo girls are doing something no one expected them to do – and they are doing it with smiles on their collective faces.

“I cried a little,” Elias said after learning that the team advanced to state. “Since my freshman year, this is what I wanted, I wanted to have the girls finally come with me.”

Garcia has seen the team progress week by week.

“At thebeginning of the year, we didn’t look like much but as the week’s progressed we would get a little bit stronger,” he said. “We won a meet towards the end of the season and that gave us a little bit of momentum.”

As the team prepares for state, Garcia – nor Elias- cannot believe this is happening.

“It’s a strange feeling,” he said. “We have some phenomenal talent in El Paso. Teams like Franklin and Eastwood, everybody does such a great job with their kids. For us to be the only girls team to qualify to state, to be the last girls team standing, it’s just amazing to me.

“God is good,” he continued. “He is still showing me that if there is a will, there’s a way. These kids from Tornillo are tough, when they want to be, they can compete with the best.”

MileSplit predicted a 12th place regional finish for Tornillo.

“We surprised ourselves,” she said. “With this group of girls and how hard they work, I knew we would eventually make it, it just took a little longer than I thought.”

High School Girl’s XC Poll: Week 10

Every Wednesday, El Paso Running will utilize a point system to highlight El Paso’s top girls 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

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.

A great season of racing is coming to an end next weekend at the UIL State Cross Country Championship.

Top 10

1. Franklin: Franklin narrowly missed out on its third straight 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. Junior Alyssa Laspada placed 20th in 19:28.0 and advanced to state individually. Franklin senior Jordan Torres ended her high school cross country career with a top 30 regional spot, finishing 29th in 19:48.2. Franklin’s average time was 19:56.2.

2. Eastwood: Eastwood finished its team season in fifth place at the Region 1-6A championship. Senior Lauren Walls-Portillo win a silver medal finishing in 18:05.1 and freshman Adelynn Rodriguez finished sixth in 18:28.6 – both will advance to state. The Troopers average time was 19:47.8.

3. Montwood: The team portion of the season ended for Montwood at District when only four Rams finishing the race. However junior Kassandra Jimenez and senior Alexa Rangel represented Montwood at the Region 1-6A Championship in Lubbock on Monday. Jimenez finished 27th in 19:39.5 and Rangel was 58th in 20:29.8.

4. Jefferson: The Foxes finished seventh in the Region 1, Class 5A championship with 271 points. Senior Crystal Peterson was 13th overall in 19:36.5 and advanced to state for the third time in four years. Senior Monique Correa was 31st in 20:19.2. The team average was 21:15.7.

5. Coronado: The T-Birds finished 20th in the Region 1, Class 6A championship with 480 points. Its top runners were junior Kyra Walker (56th, 20:28.8) and sophomore Alexa Lawrence (74th, 20:54.3). Coronado’s team average was 21:47.9.

6. Pebble Hills: The Spartans did not qualify for regionals.  

7. Canutillo: The Eagles finished 10th at the Region 1, Class 5A championship with 319 points. Junior Natalie Rivera was a top 30 runner, finishing in 27th in 20:15.4. The team average was 21:45.4.

8. Del Valle: After winning District 2-5A for the first time since 2010, the Conquistadores finished 15th at regionals. Senior Anisa Sanchez was the only top 50 runner, finishing 41st in 20:41.6. The team average was 22:01.8.

9. Americas: The Trailblazers season ended at district but freshman Lexee Salas finished 62nd in 20:38.3 at the Region 1-6A championship in Lubbock.

10. Tornillo: The Coyotes made school history by finishing fourth at the Region 1-3A Championship and advancing to its first ever state meet. Junior Kylene Elias was 10th in the 2-mile race finishing in 13:15.6 and senior Olivia Garcia had a top 40 performance, placing 36th in 14:04.1. Tornillo is the only girls team in the area to advance to the state meet.  

Dropped out: Burges.

On the brink: None.

Del Valle junior Valeria Loo-Kung ended her season with a top 25 time in El Paso. She finished 52nd at the Region 1-5A Championship.

Top times (3 mile or 5K)

1, Lauren Walls-Portillo, Eastwood, 17:17.6 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

2, Adelynn Rodriguez, Eastwood, 17:20.1 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

3, Kassandra Jimenez, Montwood, 18:28.29 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11)

4, Alyssa Laspada, Franklin, 18:30.07 (Southlake, 8/28).

5, Natalie Rivera, Canutillo, 18:52.86 (Clint, 10/2).

6, Pamela Ramirez, Burges, 18:59.11 (Del Valle, 8/28).

7, Jordan Torres, Franklin, 19:07.10 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

8, Natalia Martinez, Pebble Hills, 19:08.03 (Del Valle, 8/28).

9, Salma Licon, Eastwood, 19:10.4 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

10, Sophia Watts, Eastwood, 19:11.6 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

11, Jenna Saunders, Franklin, 19:22.86 (SAC, 10/2).

12, Abby Barraza, Franklin, 19:25.63 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

13, Crystal Peterson, Jefferson, 19:36.05 (Mae Simmons, 10/25).   

14, Ana Rojas, Socorro, 19:38.94 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

15, Adalia Olmos, Eastwood, 19:41.07 (Del Valle, 8/28).

16, Alexa Rangel, Montwood, 19:51.64 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

17, Mia Rivera, Hanks, 19:53.20 (Shawver Park, 9/4).

18, Jazmine Miranda, Montwood, 19:57.39 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

19, Anisa Sanchez, Del Valle, 19:57.84 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

20, Kyra Walker, Coronado, 19:58.38 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

21, Carolina Zarrabal, Pebble Hills, 19:58.92 (Del Valle, 8/28).

22, Sofia Camacho, Franklin, 20:03.13 (Canutillo, 8/21).

23, Giselle Rubio, Eastlake, 20:03.35 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

24, Valeria Loo-Kung, Del Valle, 20:04.76 (Clint, 10/2).

25, Monique Correa, Jefferson, 20:06.17 (SAC, 10/2).   

El Paso High junior Jezarae Valenzuela had a top 50 regional performace.

Power rankings
(number parenthesis indicate meets won):

1, Lauren Walls-Portillo, Eastwood, 73 (3).

2, Pamela Ramirez, Burges, 63 (2).

2, Alyssa Laspada, Franklin, 63 (2).

4, Adelynn Rodriguez, Eastwood, 60 (1).

5, Mia Rivera, Hanks, 52 (2).

6, Kassandra Jimenez, Montwood, 49 (2).

6, Crystal Peterson, Jefferson, 49.

8, Jordan Torres, Franklin, 47.

9, Natalie Rivera, Canutillo, 46 (2).

10, Jenna Saunders, Franklin, 42.

Natalia Martinez, Pebble Hills, 41 (1).

Samantha Ramirez, San Elizario, 39 (2).

Monique Correa, Jefferson, 39.

Anisa Sanchez, Del Valle, 39.

Valeria Loo-Kung, Del Valle, 31.

Kylene Elias, Tornillo, 29 (1).

Abby Barraza, Franklin, 29.

Alexa Rangel, Montwood, 27.

Disany Sandoval, Del Valle, 20.

Katelyn Montoya, San Elizario, 20.

Andrea Castillo, El Paso High, 17.

Madelyn Estrada, Mt. View, 17.

Sofia Camacho, Franklin, 16.

Carolina Zarrabal, Pebble Hills, 16.

Dania Cano, Canutillo, 15.

Olivia Garcia, Tornillo, 15.
Elizabeth Hernandez, Austin, 14.

Abigail Murillo, Bel Air, 13.

Ana Rojas, Socorro, 11.

Sofia Ramirez, El Paso High, 11.

Brooke McCune, Franklin, 10 (1).

Lexee Salas, Americas, 10.

Jaylee Levario, Bel Air, 10.

Osmary Vazquez, San Elizario, 10.

Olivia Elder, Franklin, 9.

Lauren Perez, Riverside, 9.

Jeanette Rivera, YWLA, 8.

Wendy Garcia, Tornillo, 7.

Camila Prieto, Jefferson, 7.

Sarah Lopez Touchy, Ysleta, 7.

Marcela Hernandez, Riverside, 6.

Alexa Lawrence, Coronado, 6.

Tessa Gibbons, Franklin, 6.

Brianna Ibarra, Tornillo, 6.

Adalia Olmos, Eastwood, 5.

Jennifer Najar, Canutillo, 5.

Mariah Martinez, Loretto, 5.

Sofia Hernandez, Jefferson, 5.

Salma Licon, Eastwood, 5.

Abigail Murillo, Bel Air, 5.

Natalie Franco, Pebble Hills, 4.

Kyra Walker, Coronado, 4.

Natalia Valdez, Chapin, 4.

Nataly Escajeda, Tornillo, 4.

Daniela Luna, Riverside, 4.

Jezarae Valenzuela, El Paso High 4.

Allison Perez, Coronado, 3.

Jazmine Miranda, Montwood, 3.

Mireyda Samer, Franklin, 3.

Alicia Chavez, YWLA, 3.

Giselle Rubio, Eastlake, 2.

Caroline Pitchkolan, Coronado, 2.

Sophia Watts, Eastwood, 2.

Ileana Maldonado, Clint, 2.

Hannah Martinez, Franklin, 2.

Ivy Lara, Canutillo, 2.

Ximena Holguin, San Elizario, 1.

Grace Kimble, Franklin, 1.

Amy Lozano, Burges, 1.

Ashley Hernandez, San Elizario, 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.”

Girls Region 1 Preview: Franklin looks for third straight state appearance, Eastwood’s Lauren Walls-Portillo seeks her fourth visit

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 girls teams and runners have advanced:

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.

Only a select few will advance to the state championship in two weeks. The next step is regionals in Lubbock on Monday.

So here we are again – Mae Simmons Park, Lubbock, Texas – the roadblock for many El Paso girl’s cross country teams and individual runners.

It is a hilly, rolling park that might as well be filled with quicksand and landmines.

It is a place that traditionally has not been kind to El Paso runners.

The Region 1 Cross Country Championship begins on Monday, the last stop before the UIL Cross Country State Championship at 8 a.m. Nov. 6 at Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock.

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

Eastwood senior Lauren Walls is seeking her fourth consecutive trip to state.

Class 6A

Franklin is looking for its third straight trip to state.

The Cougars finished third in the Region 1-6A race last year scoring 71 points and advanced to state.

“It’s been a really exciting year,” said senior Jenna Saunders, who had a top 20 performance (16th, 19:53.50) at last year’s regional. “We’re relieved to have won district the past four years, but we want to do really well at regionals and qualify for state and do the best we can. We train for it so we know we can do it.”

Franklin coach Anthony Laspada said this year’s team has had to work a little harder because of the absence of two top five regional runners – Eva Jess (fourth, 18:39.00) and Ally Little (fifth, 18:48.70) – who are now racing at UT-Austin.

“We trained really hard all season so we know we can do it,” he said. “The girls have been there for each other and they will continue to be there for each other. We’re going to train and get ready and do our best and go out swinging. We have to stay humble and be thankful for what we have and continue to fight.”

Eastwood and Coronado will also be representing District 1-6A along with Montwood seniors Kassandra Jimenez and Alexa Rangel, freshman Lexee Salas from Americas and junior Natalia Martinez from Pebble Hills.  

Eastwood senior Lauren Walls-Portillo – who finished sixth (19:00.10) at regionals last year – and Montwood’s Jimenez (19th in 19:58.60 at last year’s regional), both qualified for state last year.

“We’re training very well right now and we are getting stronger, but we’re not done yet,” Walls-Portillo said. “We’re going to continue getting stronger and get ready for that regional course.”

Walls-Portillo, who has been to three UIL State Cross Country meets, hopes a fourth one is in the cards.

“Regionals is a course that you really have to be smart with,” she said. “With my knowledge of running on it for the past three years, I finally know how to run it and how to pace myself so I’m heading into regionals feeling pretty good. It would be my biggest accomplishments to win a state medal.”

Eastwood, which did not qualify a team to last year’s regionals, is looking forward to this opportunity.

“The front part of our girl’s team ran well at district, but quite frankly, the back part got a little scared and didn’t run as well as they could have, but I’m confident they’ll fix it at regionals,” Eastwood coach Mike McLain said.

Walls-Portillo won her first district title in 19:22.89 and freshman Adelynn Rodriguez finished second in 19:38.28.

“Adelynn and Lauren looked great,” McLain said. “I don’t think there have been two girls, that fast, on one El Paso team since I’ve been around and I’ve been around since 1983. What those two girls are doing together is special.”

Austin senior Elizabeth Hernandez hopes her second trip to the Region 1-5A championship results in a trip to the state meet.

Class 5A

Jefferson, Del Valle, Burges, Canutillo, El Paso High and Hanks are the teams representing Districts 1-5A and 2-5A in Lubbock.

Four seniors – Austin’s Elizabeth Hernandez, Ysleta’s Sarah Lopez Touchy and Jaylee Levario and Abigail Murillo from Bel Air – qualified as individuals.

Two senior runners – Pamela Ramirez from Burges and Jefferson’s Monique Correa – were the lone state qualifiers from El Paso’s Class 5A last year.

Ramirez, was 23rd in 21:22.10 and Correa was 27th in 21:32.40 at last year’s regional meet.

With a full year of training under her belt, Ramirez, who spent most of her time last year playing soccer, has made giant strides, winning the District 1-5A championship on Saturday in 20:47.09.

“Soccer has always been my first love and the sport that I focused on the most,” she said. “I never thought I could love another sport but I ended loving cross country just as much.”

She said last year’s regional experience has made her mentally prepared for Monday.

“I’m going to be mentally tougher at regionals, and I’ll be ready to compete for a spot to state,” she said. “This time, I want to qualify in the top 5 or top 10.”

Hanks senior and District 2-5A champion Mia Rivera, qualified to last year’s regionals but was injured during the race and did not finish.

“I’m going to train super hard for regionals again,” she said. “I know that I can’t get in my head so I’m going to try focus more than I did last year.”

San Elizario senior Samatha Ramirez looks to make the most of her first regional appearance.

Class 4A

San Elizario, Riverside and Young Women’s Leadership Academy will represent District 1-4A along with Mt. View junior Madelaine Estrada and Clint sophomore Ileana Maldonado.

The district champion, San Elizario senior Samantha Ramirez, is looking forward to regionals.

“I’m going to keep working and pushing myself,” she said. “Nothing is going to be given to me. As long as work hard, I think I can get pretty far.”

Last year, San Elizario finished in 14th place and Clint was 15th.

Class 3A

For the first time school history, the Tornillo girls are headed to regionals as a district champion.

Behind two-time defending individual champion, junior Kylene Elias – the Coyotes dominated, the district, scoring 19 points.

Elias was fourth at last year’s regional, completing the two-mile course in 13:01.40, and advanced to state.

The team finished ninth in the region.

High School Girl’s XC Poll: Week 9

Every Wednesday, El Paso Running will utilize a point system to highlight El Paso’s top girls 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. Boy’s start times: 4A, 8:30 a.m.; 5A 9:30 a.m.; 6A 10:30 a.m. 3A, 1:30 p.m.

The Franklin girls team is back on top of the El Paso Running Top 10 after winning its fourth straight District 1-6A championship.

Top 10

1. Franklin: The Cougars are back on top. For the fourth consecutive year, Franklin won the District 1-6A championship scoring 35 points. Franklin placed three runners in the top 10 – junior Alyssa Laspada (third, 20:19.80), senior Jordan Torres (fourth, 20:47.72) and junior Sofia Camacho (sixth, 21:03.75). Franklin’s average time was 21:11.45. Franklin will compete at the Region 1-6A Championship in Lubbock on Monday with an opportunity to advance to its third straight state meet.

2. Eastwood: Eastwood drops out of the No. 1 spot after falling 10 points short of Franklin in District 1-6A despite having a better team average (21:09.61). The Troopers did manage to take individual gold and silver with senior Lauren Walls-Portillo winning her first district title in 19:22.89 and freshman Adelynn Rodriguez finishing second in 19:38.28. Eastwood will race for an opportunity to race at state on Monday at the Regional Championship in Lubbock.

3. Montwood: Only four Rams finished the District 1-6A race and therefore were not eligible to advance as a team to regionals. Junior Kassandra Jimenez was fifth in 20:58.94 and senior Alexa Rangel was seventh in 21:04.05. Both will advance to the Region 1-6A Championship in Lubbock on Monday. The four runner’s scoring average was 22:11.88.

4. Jefferson: The Foxes move up two spots after securing its fourth District 1-5A championship with 26 points. The team placed 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). The team average was 22:36.50. Jefferson will travel to Lubbock for Monday’s Region 1-5A Championship.

5. Coronado: The T-Birds move up one spot after finishing third in the District 1-6A championship with 83 points. Its top runners were sophomore Alexa Lawrence (12th, 21:38.24) and junior Kyra Walker (14th, 21:54.47). Coronado’s team average was 22:38.48. Coronado will prepare for the Region 1-6A championship in Lubbock on Monday.

6. Pebble Hills: The Spartans drop two spots after placing fourth at the District 1-6A meet – the school’s best district finish. The team scored 104 points with an average of 23:01.50. Junior Natalia Martinez advanced to the Region 1-6A championship by placing 10th in 21:17.30.

7. Del Valle: The Conquistadores seemed to have peaked at the right time, winning the District 2-5A championship for the first time since 2010. Del Valle, which moved up three spots, placed 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) – to score 44 points. The team’s average time was 23:15.03. The team is preparing for the Region 1-5A championship on Monday in Lubbock.

8. Americas: The Trailblazers move up one after placing fifth in District 1-6A. The team’s average time was 23:22.86.  Freshman Lexee Salas waseighth in 21:16.62 and will advance to the Region 1-6A championship in Lubbock.

9. Canutillo: The Eagles drop two after placing second in the District 2-5A race with 51 points. Canutillo’s team average was 23:26.37. The Eagles top four finished 8-11 (in order of finish) – junior Dania Cano (22:54.81), junior Natalie Rivera (23:23.01), senior Ivy Lara (23:27.78) and senior Vanessa Preciado (23:30.61).

10. Burges: The Mustangs finished second in District 1-5A with 45 points to earn a trip to the Region 1-5A Championship in Lubbock on Monday. Senior Pamela Ramirez won the district championship in 20:47.09. Three of her teamamtes finishd 10-12 (in order) – senior Amy Lozano (23:47.37), sophomore Aritzel Garcia (23:53.40) and freshman Keilah Valenzuela Garcia (24:06.94). The team average was 23:30.71.

Dropped out: Hanks.

On the brink: El Paso High, Hanks.

The San Elizario girls won the District 1-4A team championship.

Top times (3 mile or 5K)

1, Lauren Walls-Portillo, Eastwood, 17:17.6 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

2, Adelynn Rodriguez, Eastwood, 17:20.1 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

3, Kassandra Jimenez, Montwood, 18:28.29 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11)

4, Alyssa Laspada, Franklin, 18:30.07 (Southlake, 8/28).

5, Natalie Rivera, Canutillo, 18:52.86 (Clint, 10/2).

6, Pamela Ramirez, Burges, 18:59.11 (Del Valle, 8/28).

7, Jordan Torres, Franklin, 19:07.10 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

8, Natalia Martinez, Pebble Hills, 19:08.03 (Del Valle, 8/28).

9, Salma Licon, Eastwood, 19:10.4 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

10, Sophia Watts, Eastwood, 19:11.6 (Woodbridge, 9/18).

11, Jenna Saunders, Franklin, 19:22.86 (SAC, 10/2).

12, Abby Barraza, Franklin, 19:25.63 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

13, Ana Rojas, Socorro, 19:38.94 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

14, Adalia Olmos, Eastwood, 19:41.07 (Del Valle, 8/28).

15, Alexa Rangel, Montwood, 19:51.64 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

16, Mia Rivera, Hanks, 19:53.20 (Shawver Park, 9/4).

17, Jazmine Miranda, Montwood, 19:57.39 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

18, Anisa Sanchez, Del Valle, 19:57.84 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

19, Kyra Walker, Coronado, 19:58.38 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

20, Carolina Zarrabal, Pebble Hills, 19:58.92 (Del Valle, 8/28).

21, Crystal Peterson, Jefferson, 20:02.02 (SAC, 10/2).   

22, Sofia Camacho, Franklin, 20:03.13 (Canutillo, 8/21).

23, Giselle Rubio, Eastlake, 20:03.35 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

24, Valeria Loo-Kung, Del Valle, 20:04.76 (Clint, 10/2).

25, Monique Correa, Jefferson, 20:06.17 (SAC, 10/2). 

  

Mt. View junior Madelaine Estrada finished third in the District 1-4A girls championship, finishing the two-mile course in 14:04.29. She advances to the Class 1-4A Regional Championship in Lubbock.

Power rankings
(number parenthesis indicate meets won):

1, Alyssa Laspada, Franklin, 62 (2).

2, Lauren Walls-Portillo, Eastwood, 54 (3).

3, Mia Rivera, Hanks, 52 (2).

4, Pamela Ramirez, Burges, 50 (2).

5, Kassandra Jimenez, Montwood, 49 (2).

6, Jordan Torres, Franklin, 47.

7, Natalie Rivera, Canutillo, 46 (2).

8, Adelynn Rodriguez, Eastwood, 45 (1).

9, Jenna Saunders, Franklin, 42.

10, Crystal Peterson, Jefferson, 41.

10, Natalia Martinez, Pebble Hills, 41 (1).

Monique Correa, Jefferson, 39.

Anisa Sanchez, Del Valle, 39.

Samantha Ramirez, San Elizario, 33 (2).

Valeria Loo-Kung, Del Valle, 31.

Abby Barraza, Franklin, 29.

Alexa Rangel, Montwood, 27.

Disany Sandoval, Del Valle, 20.

Katelyn Montoya, San Elizario, 20.

Kylene Elias, Tornillo, 18 (1).

Andrea Castillo, El Paso High, 17.

Madelyn Estrada, Mt. View, 17.

Sofia Camacho, Franklin, 16.

Carolina Zarrabal, Pebble Hills, 16.

Dania Cano, Canutillo, 15.

Olivia Garcia, Tornillo, 15.
Elizabeth Hernandez, Austin, 14.

Abigail Murillo, Bel Air, 13.

Ana Rojas, Socorro, 11.

Sofia Ramirez, El Paso High, 11.

Brooke McCune, Franklin, 10 (1).

Lexee Salas, Americas, 10.

Jaylee Levario, Bel Air, 10.

Osmary Vazquez, San Elizario, 10.

Olivia Elder, Franklin, 9.

Lauren Perez, Riverside, 9.

Jeanette Rivera, YWLA, 8.

Wendy Garcia, Tornillo, 7.

Camila Prieto, Jefferson, 7.

Sarah Lopez Touchy, Ysleta, 7.

Marcela Hernandez, Riverside, 6.

Alexa Lawrence, Coronado, 6.

Tessa Gibbons, Franklin, 6.

Brianna Ibarra, Tornillo, 6.

Adalia Olmos, Eastwood, 5.

Jennifer Najar, Canutillo, 5.

Mariah Martinez, Loretto, 5.

Sofia Hernandez, Jefferson, 5.

Salma Licon, Eastwood, 5.

Abigail Murillo, Bel Air, 5.

Natalie Franco, Pebble Hills, 4.

Kyra Walker, Coronado, 4.

Natalia Valdez, Chapin, 4.

Nataly Escajeda, Tornillo, 4.

Daniela Luna, Riverside, 4.

Jezarae Valenzuela, El Paso High 4.

Allison Perez, Coronado, 3.

Jazmine Miranda, Montwood, 3.

Mireyda Samer, Franklin, 3.

Alicia Chavez, YWLA, 3.

Giselle Rubio, Eastlake, 2.

Caroline Pitchkolan, Coronado, 2.

Sophia Watts, Eastwood, 2.

Ileana Maldonado, Clint, 2.

Hannah Martinez, Franklin, 2.

Ivy Lara, Canutillo, 2.

Ximena Holguin, San Elizario, 1.

Grace Kimble, Franklin, 1.

Amy Lozano, Burges, 1.

Ashley Hernandez, San Elizario, 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.