High School Girl’s XC Poll: Week 6

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

Desert Twilight Invitational: 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24 at Queen Creek, Ariz. Eastwood, Riverside, Del Valle, Bel Air, San Elizario, Cathedral.

Organ Invite: 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 25 at Organ High School in Las Cruces. Franklin, Coronado, Santa Teresa, Chaparral, Gadsden.

DaVinci Invitational:  8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 25 at the Don Haskins Recreation Center. Austin, Jefferson, Ysleta, YWLA, Eastlake, Anthony, Fabens, Cathedral, Loretto, Canutillo, Harmony, Da Vinci.

Lubbock Invitational: 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 25 at Mae Simmons Park.  Burges, Chapin, El Paso, Andress, Bowie, El Dorado, Socorro, Americas, Pebble Hills, Montwood, Valle Verde, Hanks, Parkland.

Many of the city’s top teams and individuals will travel to out-of-town invitationals this weekend.

Top 10

1. Eastwood: The Troopers placed 13th in the “rated” division at the 40th annual Woodbridge Cross Country Classic in Woodbridge, Calif. Senior Lauren Walls-Portillo was second in 17:17.6 and freshman Adelynn Rodriguez was third in 17:20.1 – both personal best times. Two other Eastwood runners set personal best times on the 3-mile course – juniors Salma Licon (19:10.4) and Sophia Watts (19:11.6). The team will compete at the Desert Twilight, the Nike Pre-Southwest Regional meet, in Queen Creek Arizona on Friday night.

2. Franklin: The Cougars varsity did not race on Saturday. However, the JV managed to win the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club with 82 points. Its top runner was junior Shani Malone who was 14th in 22:09.71. The team will race at the Organ Invitational in Las Cruces.

3. Pebble Hills: The Spartans finished second at the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club. Junior Natalia Martinez – who was second in 20:18.68 – was the only top 10 runner. Pebble Hills will race at the Lubbock Invitational on Saturday.

4. Coronado: The T-Birds move up two spots after its third-place finish at the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club, despite not placing a runner in the top 10. Sophomore Alexa Lawrence was 12th in 22:04.31 and senior Banah Abdeljaber was 16th in 22:14.07. Coronado will race at the Organ Invitational in Las Cruces.

5. Montwood:  The Rams drop one spot after placing fourth at the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club. Montwood had two runners finish in the top 10 – junior Kassandra Jimenez (fourth, 20:53.45) and senior Alexa Rangel (sixth, 21:21.62). Montwood will race at the Lubbock Invitational on Saturday.

6. Jefferson: The Foxes did not run a full team at the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club but had two runners – senior Monique Correa (seventh, 21:27.27) and junior Crystal Peterson (eighth, 21:35.21) – finish in the top 10. Jefferson is schedule to race at the DaVinci Invitational at the Don Haskins Recreation Center.  

7. Canutillo: The Eagles did not race a full team at the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club. Canutillo will compete at the DaVinci Invitational at the Don Haskins Recreation Center.

8. Eastlake: The Falcons are back in the top 10 after finishing fifth at the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club on Saturday. It’s top two runners were senior Giselle Rubio (24th, 22:40.14) and sophomore Itzel Chavez (25th, 22:47.72). Eastlake will compete at the DaVinci Invitational at the Don Haskins Recreation Center on Saturday.

9. Hanks: The Knights finished sixth at the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club. Senior Mia Rivera was third in 20:34.74. The team will race at the Lubbock Invitational on Saturday.

10. Americas: The Trailblazers make its season debut after its seventh-place finish at the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club. Freshman Lexee Salas was the top finisher, placing 13th in 22:09.25. The team will race at the Lubbock Invitational on Saturday.

Dropped out: Del Valle, Socorro.

On the brink: El Paso High, Burges.

San Elizario senior Samantha Ramirez won the 3,200-meter race at the District Preview Invitational at Vista Hills Country Club in 13:28.83. The Eagles will travel to Queen Creek, Ariz. to race at the Desert Twilight Invitational on Friday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

11, Jenna Saunders, Franklin, 19:37.10 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

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

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

14, Natalie Rivera, Canutillo, 19:45.20 (Shawver Park, 9/4).

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

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

23, Banah Abdeljaber, Coronado, 20:11.1 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

24, Michele Paillard, Franklin, 20:16.4 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

25, Valeria Loo-Kung, Del Valle, 20:16.96 (Del Valle, 8/28).

Bel Air senior Abigail Murillo finished fifth in 21:16.43 at the District Preview Invitational at Vista Hills Country Club. The Highlanders will compete at the Desert Twilight Invitational at Queen Creek, Ariz.

Power rankings
(number parenthesis indicate meets won):

1, Mia Rivera, Hanks, 39 (1).

2, Lauren Walls-Portillo, Eastwood, 38 (2).

2, Kassandra Jimenez, Montwood, 38 (2).

4, Adelynn Rodriguez, Eastwood, 36 (1).

5, Alyssa Laspada, Franklin, 35 (1).

6, Natalie Rivera, Canutillo, 34 (1).

6, Pamela Ramirez, Burges, 34 (1).

8, Natalia Martinez, Pebble Hills, 30 (1).

9, Jordan Torres, Franklin, 27.

10, Monique Correa, Jefferson, 26.

10, Crystal Peterson, Jefferson, 26.

Jenna Saunders, Franklin, 25.

Alexa Rangel, Montwood, 23.

Abby Barraza, Franklin, 17.

Samantha Ramirez, San Elizario, 15 (1).

Andrea Castillo, El Paso High, 13.

Abigail Murillo, Bel Air, 13.

Carolina Zarrabal, Pebble Hills, 12.

Ana Rojas, Socorro, 10.

Madelyn Estrada, Mt. View, 9.

Anisa Sanchez, Del Valle, 9.

Elizabeth Hernandez, Austin, 8.

Katelyn Montoya, San Elizario, 8.

Dania Cano, Canutillo, 7.

Lexee Salas, Americas, 7.

Marcela Hernandez, Riverside, 6.

Olivia Garcia, Tornillo, 6.

Adalia Olmos, Eastwood, 5.

Sofia Camacho, Franklin, 4.

Natalie Franco, Pebble Hills, 4.

Osmary Vazquez, San Elizario, 4.

Jaylee Levario, Bel Air, 4.

Allison Perez, Coronado, 3.

Jazmine Miranda, Montwood, 3.

Disany Sandoval, Del Valle, 3.

Salma Licon, Eastwood, 3.

Jeanette Rivera, YWLA, 3.

Giselle Rubio, Eastlake, 2.

Caroline Pitchkolan, Coronado, 2.

Sophia Watts, Eastwood, 2.

Lauren Perez, Riverside, 2.

Valeria Loo-Kung, Del Valle, 2.

Alexa Lawrence, Coronado, 1.

Jennifer Najar, Canutillo, 1.

Abigail Murillo, Bel Air, 1.

Kyra Walker, Coronado, 1.

Sofia Ramirez, El Paso High, 1.

Ximena Holguin, San Elizario, 1.

High School Girl’s XC Poll: Week 5

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

District Preview: 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 18 at Vista Hills Country Club. All schools.

Woodbridge Classic: 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18 at SilverLakes Sports Complex in Woodbridge, Calif. Eastwood.

We are at the midway mark of the 2021 season as things start to heat up. Vista Hills Country Club will be the place to be on Saturday as all teams are scheduled to compete in the District Preview meet.

Top 10

1. Eastwood: The Troopers did not race on Saturday. Eastwood has been putting in extra work the past two weeks in preparation of two major races – the 40th annual Woodbridge Cross Country Classic presented by ASICS America in Woodbridge, Calif. on Saturday and the Desert Twilight, the Nike Pre-Southwest Regional meet, in Queen Creek Arizona on Sept. 25.

2. Franklin: The Cougars scored 25 points to win the EPISD Invitational at Mary Francis Keisling Park on Saturday. Franklin placed four of its runners in the top five led by junior Alyssa Laspada (second, 18:52.40), senior Jordan Torres (third, 19:07.10), junior Abby Barraza (fourth, 19:25.63) and senior Jenna Saunders (fifth, 19:37.10). Franklin will race at the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club on Saturday.

3. Pebble Hills: The Spartans did not run its top runners at the Loretto/Cathedral Invitational at Veterans Park. They will race at the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club on Saturday.

4. Montwood:  The Rams finished second at the EPISD Invitational at Mary Francis Keisling Park on Saturday with 51 points. Junior Kassandra Jimenez turned in a season-best 18:28.29, the second fastest time in the city.  Montwood had two other runners – senior Alexa Rangel (seventh, in 19:51.64) and junior Jazmine Miranda (eighth, 19:57.30) – in the top 10. Rangel and Miranda also ran season-best times. Montwood will race at the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club on Saturday.

5. Jefferson: The Foxes did not run a full team at the Loretto/Cathedral Invitational at Veterans Park but did place two runners – junior Crystal Peterson (third, 21:07.17) and senior Monique Correa (seventh, 21:46.60) – in the top 10. Jefferson will race at the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club on Saturday.

6. Coronado: The T-Birds finished continue to improve and finished third at the EPISD Invitational at Mary Francis Keisling Park with 70 points. Junior Kyra Walker had her best race of her season, finishing 10th in 19:58.38. Coronado will race at the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club on Saturday.

7. Del Valle: The Conquistadores did not race a full team at the EPISD Invitational at Mary Francis Keisling Park on Saturday. Senior Anisa Sanchez was ninth in a season-best 19:57.84. Del Valle will race at the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club on Saturday.

8. Canutillo: The Eagles move up one after winning the Loretto/Cathedral Invitational with 55 points. Junior Natalie Rivera was second in 20:10.43 and junior Dania Cano finished one spot outside of the top 10 in 22:50.26.  Canutillo will race at the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club on Saturday.

9. Hanks: The Knights finished second with 89 points at the Loretto/Cathedral Invitational at Veterans Park and moved down one spot. Senior Mia Rivera picked up her first win of the season in 20:02.00.  The team will race at the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club on Saturday.

10. Socorro: The Bulldogs did not run a full team at the EPISD Invitational at Mary Francis Keisling Park. Senior Ana Rojas was sixth in 19:38.94. The team will race at the District Preview at Vista Hills Country Club on Saturday.

Dropped out: None.

On the brink: El Paso High, Burges, Eastlake.

Americas freshman Lexee Salas has been a nice addition as the Trailblazers try to rebuild. She finished fifth at last week’s Loretto/Cathedral Invitational.

Top times (3 mile or 5K)

1, Lauren Walls-Portillo, Eastwood, 17:58.28 (Del Valle, 8/28).

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

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

4, Adelynn Rodriguez, Eastwood, 18:37.95 (Del Valle, 8/28).

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

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

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

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

9, Jenna Saunders, Franklin, 19:37.10 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

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

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

12, Natalie Rivera, Canutillo, 19:45.20 (Shawver Park, 9/4).

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

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

15, Salma Licon, Eastwood, 19:54.44 (Del Valle, 8/28).

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

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

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

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

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

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

22, Banah Abdeljaber, Coronado, 20:11.1 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

23, Michele Paillard, Franklin, 20:16.4 (Mary Frances Keisling, 9/11).

24, Valeria Loo-Kung, Del Valle, 20:16.96 (Del Valle, 8/28).

25, Abigail Murillo, Bel Air, 20:18.22 (Del Valle, 8/28).

El Paso High sophomore Andrea Castillo has the Tigers on the brink of El Paso Running’s top 10. She finished eighth at the Loretto/Cathedral Invitational in 22:14.16.

Power rankings
(number parenthesis indicate meets won):

1, Alyssa Laspada, Franklin, 35 (1).

2, Natalie Rivera, Canutillo, 34 (1).

3, Kassandra Jimenez, Montwood, 31 (2).

3, Mia Rivera, Hanks, 31 (1).

5, Lauren Walls-Portillo, Eastwood, 29 (2).

6, Adelynn Rodriguez, Eastwood, 28 (1).

7, Jordan Torres, Franklin, 27.

8, Jenna Saunders, Franklin, 25.

9, Pamela Ramirez, Burges, 24.

10, Crystal Peterson, Jefferson, 23.

Monique Correa, Jefferson, 22.

Natalia Martinez, Pebble Hills, 21 (1).

Alexa Rangel, Montwood, 18.

Abby Barraza, Franklin, 17.

Andrea Castillo, El Paso High, 13.

Carolina Zarrabal, Pebble Hills, 12.

Ana Rojas, Socorro, 10.

Anisa Sanchez, Del Valle, 8.

Elizabeth Hernandez, Austin, 8.

Dania Cano, Canutillo, 7.

Abigail Murillo, Bel Air, 7.

Lexee Salas, Americas, 7.

Adalia Olmos, Eastwood, 5.

Samantha Ramirez, San Elizario, 5.

Sofia Camacho, Franklin, 4.

Natalie Franco, Pebble Hills, 4.

Jaylee Levario, Bel Air, 4.

Allison Perez, Coronado, 3.

Jazmine Miranda, Montwood, 3.

Disany Sandoval, Del Valle, 3.

Salma Licon, Eastwood, 3.

Giselle Rubio, Eastlake, 2.

Caroline Pitchkolan, Coronado, 2.

Sophia Watts, Eastwood, 2.

Olivia Garcia, Tornillo, 1.

Alexa Lawrence, Coronado, 1.

Jennifer Najar, Canutillo, 1.

Abigail Murillo, Bel Air, 1.

Kyra Walker, Coronado, 1.

Sofia Ramirez, El Paso High, 1.

Monday Cool Down: Older brothers pave way for Americas’ Laverty and Hanks’ Rivera

As young runners, Americas senior Jared Laverty and Hanks senior Mia Rivera always had a team of people encouraging them, pushing them to work harder and to be better.

For the most part the motivation came from club coaches, parents or fellow runners.

But each of them also had someone who actually put in the miles, leading the way through example.

Jared Laverty

Laverty and Rivera have big brothers, both Division 1 athletes, who have inspired their younger siblings throughout the years.

Laverty’s older brother, Cameron, was a mid-distance runner for Americas and at the University of Houston.

While at Americas, Cameron set five school records at including the 400m, 800m, 1600m, 300m hurdles and 4x400m relay.

Rivera’s older brother, Rodger, is sophomore at the University of Texas and was an All-State cross country performer at Hanks, finishing eighth as a junior and third as a senior at the state meet.

“Cameron has helped me a great deal and he’s someone I look up to and admire for what he did,” Laverty told the El Paso Times last week. 

Rivera said her older brother set the pathway for her success and serves as a role model.

“I know that I’m not at his level, but he pushes me to get there,” Rivera said after winning the Loretto/Cathedral Invitational at Veterans Park on Saturday. “He has been there all my life; he has always been by my side.  He pushes me to do better, he tells me when I’m doing something wrong but he’s always there for me no matter what.”

Mia Rivera

Rivera, who picked up her first win of the season, has the city’s 14th fastest time, racing to a 19:53.20 at Shawver Park on Sept. 4.

“I’m where I want to be right now,” she said. “Every day I’m pushing harder. In practice, I’ve been running with the boys and they’re pushing me a lot, that’s why my times have been getting faster.”

Heading into the mid-point of the season, Rivera and Laverty say they are mentally and physically prepared for the championship push.

“I’m racing really well right now,” Rivera said. “My goal is to break 19 minutes because I know colleges are going to be scouting and I want to get a good time so maybe I can earn a scholarship.”

Laverty, who is unbeaten in four races this season, said he too is focused on the stretch run.

“Every year I focus on the long term, and every year the goal is making it to state,” he said. “I’ve been practicing hard all summer with that in mind. I had a really bad junior year so I’m really focused on doing well my senior year.”

Laverty has the city’s fifth fastest boy’s time, clocking in at 15:24.83 at the Canutillo Invitational on Aug. 21.

“I’m always good mentally, even if I lose, I’ll always be in the same mental state to come back,” he said. “I want my senior year to be the best year. I want to make sure we do all the right things. I just want to be the best that I can be and push through with quality work in practice every day.”

High School Girl’s XC Poll: Week 4

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

EPISD Invitational: 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 11 at Mary Francis Keisling Park, 651 Gomez. Franklin, Coronado, Bowie, Eastlake, Socorro, Montwood, Riverside, Del Valle, Clint, Ft Hancock. Anthony, LPI, Harmony.

Loretto/Cathedral Invitational: 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 11 at Veterans Park. Burges, El Paso, Irvin Jefferson, Andress, Chapin El Dorado, Americas, Eastwood, Valle Verde, Ysleta, Hanks, Parkland, Bel Air, YWLA, Mt.View, Horizon, Tornillo, Canutillo, Pebble Hills, Fabens, Loretto, Cathedral, San Elizario.

As the fourth week of the season begins, many teams will resting up for out-of-town invitationals.

Top 10

1. Eastwood: The Troopers take over the top spot after winning the Pebble Hills Invitational at Vista Hills Country Club with 38 points, 11 better than previous No. 1 Franklin. Eastwood had three runners – senior Lauren Walls-Portillo (first, 19:05.8), freshman Adelynn Rodriguez (second, 19:43.6) and junior Sophia Watts (ninth, 21:21.1) – finish in the top 10. It was the second straight week Walls-Portillo and Rodriguez finished 1-2. Eastwood’s five scores finished in the top 19. Eastwood will race at the Loretto/Cathedral Invitational at Veterans Park on Saturday.

2. Franklin: The Cougars drop a spot after finishing second at the Pebble Hills Invitational with 47 points. Its top three runners were junior Alyssa Laspada (third, 20:19.10, senior Jenna Saunders (fifth, 20:27.7) and senior Jordan Torres, Franklin (seventh, 21:07.1). Franklin will try to regroup at the EPISD Invitational at Mary Francis Keisling Park on Saturday.

3. Pebble Hills: The Spartans hold steady at No. 3 after its third-place at the Pebble Hills Invitational, scoring 72 points. Its top runners were junior Natalia Martinez (sixth, 20:51.1) and sophomore Carolina Zarrabal (eighth, 21:14.4). Pebble Hills will race at the Loretto/Cathedral Invitational at Veterans Park on Saturday.

4. Montwood:  The Rams did not run a full team at the Ysleta/Riverside Invitational at Shawver Park, however junior Kassandra Jimenez won the event in 19:26.77 and senior Alexa Rangel was fourth in 20:27.46. Montwood will race at EPISD Invitational at Mary Francis Keisling Park on Saturday.

5. Jefferson: The Foxes won its second consecutive team championship taking first-place at the Ysleta/Riverside Invitational at Shawver Park with 58 points. Junior Crystal Peterson was fifth in 20:34.35 and senior Monique Correa was sixth in 20:40.23 to lead Jefferson. Jefferson will race at the Loretto/Cathedral Invitational at Veterans Park on Saturday.

6. Coronado: The T-Birds finished fourth at the Pebble Hills Invitational at Vista Hills Country Club with 87 points. Coronado’s top three three runners finished 13th (sophomore Alexa Lawrence, 21:47.1), 14th (junior Kyra Walker, 21:56.2) and 17th (senior Banah Abdeljaber (22:14.9). Coronado will race at the EPISD Invitational at Mary Francis Keisling Park on Saturday.

7. Del Valle: The Conquistadores did not race a full team at the Ysleta/Riverside Invitational. It’s top two runners were seniors Anisa Sanchez (12th, 21:09.11) and   Disany Sandoval (13th, 21:12.83). Del Valle will at the EPISD Invitational at Mary Francis Keisling Park on Saturday.

8. Hanks: The Knights finished second with 75 points at the Ysleta/Riverside Invitational at Shawver Park. Senior Mia Rivera was third in 19:53.20. Freshman Elizabeth Aguirre was the only top 20 runner, placing 15th in 21:53.64.  The team will race at the Loretto/Cathedral Invitational at Veterans Park on Saturday.

9. Canutillo: The Eagles were third (four points behind Hanks) at the Ysleta/Riverside Invitational.  Junior Natalie Rivera was second overall in 19:45.20 and junior Dania Cano was ninth in 20:57.06. Canutillo will race at the Loretto/Cathedral Invitational on Saturday.

10. Socorro: For the second straight week, the Bulldogs did not run a full team at the Pebble Hills Invitational. Senior Ana Rojas was 12th in 21:44.8. The team will race at the EPISD Invitational at Mary Francis Keisling Park on Saturday.

Dropped out: None.

On the brink: El Paso High, Burges, Eastlake.

Hanks senior Mia Rivera is having a great season, ranking in the top 20 in overall time and in the top 10 in power rankings.

Top times (3 mile or 5K)

1, Lauren Walls-Portillo, Eastwood, 17:58.28 (Del Valle, 8/28).

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

3, Adelynn Rodriguez, Eastwood, 18:37.95 (Del Valle, 8/28).

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

5, Kassandra Jimenez, Montwood, 18:59.84 (Del Valle, 8/28).

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

7, Jordan Torres, Franklin, 19:22.07 (Canutillo, 8/21).

8, Jenna Saunders, Franklin, 19:37.63 (Southlake, 8/28).

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

10, Natalie Rivera, Canutillo, 19:45.20 (Shawver Park, 9/4).

11, Ana Rojas, Socorro, 19:46.94 (Del Valle, 8/28).

12, Abby Barraza, Franklin, 19:52.45 (Canutillo, 8/21).

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

14, Salma Licon, Eastwood, 19:54.44 (Del Valle, 8/28).

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

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

17, Valeria Loo-Kung, Del Valle, 20:16.96 (Del Valle, 8/28).

18, Michele Paillard, Franklin, 20:47.35 (Southlake, 8/28).

19, Caroline Pitchkolan, Coronado, 20:52.26 (Canutillo, 8/21).

20, Alexa Lawrence, Coronado, 20:55.11 (Canutillo, 8/21).

21, Lexee Salas, Americas, 20:57.20 (Cleveland, 8/28).

22, Isabella Medina, Americas, 21:03.20 (Canutillo, 8/21).

23, Crystal Peterson, Jefferson, 21:08.65 (Chaparral, 8/28).

24, Monique Correa, Jefferson, 21:17.61 (Chaparral, 8/28).

25, Abigail Murillo, Bel Air, 20:18.22 (Del Valle, 8/28).

The Pebble Hills girls have been this season’s sleeper, ranking at No. 3 in this week’s El Paso Running Top 10.

Power rankings
(number parenthesis indicate meets won):

1, Lauren Walls-Portillo, Eastwood, 29 (2).

2, Adelynn Rodriguez, Eastwood, 28 (1).

3, Alyssa Laspada, Franklin, 26 (1).

4, Natalie Rivera, Canutillo, 25 (1).

5, Pamela Ramirez, Burges, 24.

6, Natalia Martinez, Pebble Hills, 21 (1).

6, Kassandra Jimenez, Montwood, 21 (1).

6, Mia Rivera, Hanks, 21.

9, Jenna Saunders, Franklin, 19.

9, Jordan Torres, Franklin, 19.

Monique Correa, Jefferson, 18.

Crystal Peterson, Jefferson, 15.

Alexa Rangel, Montwood, 14.

Carolina Zarrabal, Pebble Hills, 12.

Abby Barraza, Franklin, 10.

Andrea Castillo, EPHS, 10.

Dania Cano, Canutillo, 7.

Anisa Sanchez, Del Valle, 6.

Elizabeth Hernandez, Austin, 6.

Adalia Olmos, Eastwood, 5.

Ana Rojas, Socorro, 5.

Sofia Camacho, Franklin, 4.

Natalie Franco, Pebble Hills, 4.

Jaylee Levario, Bel Air, 4.

Allison Perez, Coronado, 3.

Disany Sandoval, Del Valle, 3.

Salma Licon, Eastwood, 3.

Ana Rojas, Coronado, 3.

Giselle Rubio, Eastlake, 2.

Caroline Pitchkolan, Coronado, 2.

Sophia Watts, Eastwood, 2.

Olivia Garcia, Tornillo, 1.

Alexa Lawrence, Coronado, 1.

Jennifer Najar, Canutillo, 1.

Abigail Murillo, Bel Air, 1.

Lexee Salas, Americas, 1.

High School Girls XC Poll: Week 3

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

Riverside/Ysleta Invitational: 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 4 at Shawver Park. El Paso, Jefferson, Bowie, Austin, Chapin, Montwood, Americas, El Dorado, Valle Verde, Riverside, Ysleta, Del Valle, Hanks, Parkland, Bel Air, YWLA, Mt. View, Clint, San Eli, Fabens, Harmony, Canutillo.

Pebble Hills Invitational: 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 4 at Vista Hills Country Club. Burges, Coronado, Franklin, Irvin, Andress, Horizon Eastlake, Pebble Hills, Socorro, Eastwood, Santa Teresa, Chaparral, Gadsden, Ft. Hancock, LPI, Cathedral, Loretto, Anthony.

The Del Valle course proved to be runner-friendly as 12 runners in the Top 25 set season personal best times last Saturday.

Top 10

1. Franklin: The Cougars placed sixth at the Southlake Carroll Invitational with 183 points. Southlake Carroll won the event with 60 points. Junior Alyssa Laspada was the top Franklin runner finishing 17th in 18:30.07, a season best. Senior Jenna Saunders also ran a season-best 19:37.63. Franklin will compete at the Pebble Hills Invitational at Vista Hills Country Club on Saturday.

2. Eastwood: The Troopers move up a spot after winning the Rudy Alvarez Invitational at Del Valle. Eastwood placed four runners in the top eight to win the event with 30 points – 45 more than the rest of the field. Senior Lauren Walls-Portillo won the race in a personal best 17:58.28 followed by freshman Adelynn Rodriguez (second, 18:37.95), senior Adalia Olmos (sixth, 19:41.07) and junior Salma Licon (eighth, 19:54.44). Eastwood will race at the at the Pebble Hills Invitational at Vista Hills Country Club on Saturday.

3. Pebble Hills: For the second straight week, the Spartans are the big movers and shakers – moving up another four spots. The young Pebble Hills team have been the surprise team of the season. On Saturday, it placed two runners Junior Natalia Martinez (fifth, 19:08.03) and sophomore Carolina Zarrabal (10th, 19:58.92) – in the top 10. Sophomore Natalie Franco was 13th in 20:24.44. Pebble Hills will race in its own in invitational at Vista Hills on Saturday.

4. Montwood:  The Rams drop two spots after its third-place finish at the Rudy Alvarez. Junior Kassandra Jimenez had a strong race, finishing fourth in 18:59.84 and junior Jazmine Miranda was 14th in 20:25.44. Senior Alexa Rangel was 23rd in 20:57.02. Montwood hopes to get back on track at the Riverside/Ysleta Invitational at Shawver Park.

5. Jefferson: The Foxes won the Gadsden Invitational at Chaparral High School, placing it’s two seniors – Crystal Peterson (21:08.65) and Monique Correra (21:17.61) – in second and third. The Foxes need to develop more consistency in it’s 3-7 runners in order to remain in the top five. Jefferson will race at the Riverside/Ysleta Invitational at Shawver Park on Saturday.

6. Coronado: The T-Birds finished fourth at the Rudy Alvarez Invitational with 120 points. Coronado placed three runners in the top 25 – sophomore Alexa Lawrence (15th, 20:36.08), senior Banah Abdeljaber (16th, 20:39.37) and junior Kyra Walker (25th, 21:08.42).  The team will regroup for the Pebble Hills Invitational at Vista Hills Country Club on Saturday.

7. Del Valle: The Conquistadores move up for the second straight week, this time two spots after placing fifth on its home course. Del Valle had three runners in the top 25 led by junior Valeria Loo-Kung who was 11th in 20:16.96.  Senior Disany Sandoval was 20th in 20:42.81 and senior Anisa Sanchez was 22nd in 20:54.20. Del Valle will race at the Riverside/Ysleta Invitational at Shawver Park on Saturday.

8. Hanks: The Knights finished sixth at the Rudy Alvarez. Senior Mia Rivera had another top 10 finish, placing ninth in 19:57.47. Rivera was the only top 25 runner for Hanks. Senior Madison Spencer was 30th in 21:42.86. The team will race at the Riverside/Ysleta Invitational at Shawver Park on Saturday.

9. Canutillo: The Eagles make its season debut in the Top 10 after placing second at the Gadsden Invitational at Chaparral High School.  Junior Natalie Rivera won the event in 21:03.86. Junior Dania Cano was sixth in 22:20.38 and junior Jennifer Najar was 10th in 23:04.25. The team will race at the Riverside/Ysleta Invitational at Shawver Park.

10. Socorro: The Bulldogs did not run a full team at the Rudy Alvarez. Senior Ana Rojas did manage a seventh-place finish in 19:46.94. The team will race at Pebble Hills Invitational at Vista Hills Country Club on Saturday.

Dropped out: Bel Air.

On the brink: Burges, Eastlake, El Paso High.

Jefferson’s Monique Correa and Crystal Peterson as well as Canutillo’s Natalie Rivera have turned in top 25 times this season.

Top times (3 mile or 5K)

1, Lauren Walls-Portillo, Eastwood, 17:58.28 (Del Valle, 8/28).

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

3, Adelynn Rodriguez, Eastwood, 18:37.95 (Del Valle, 8/28).

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

5, Kassandra Jimenez, Montwood, 18:59.84 (Del Valle, 8/28).

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

7, Jordan Torres, Franklin, 19:22.07 (Canutillo, 8/21).

8, Jenna Saunders, Franklin, 19:37.63 (Southlake, 8/28).

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

10, Ana Rojas, Socorro, 19:46.94 (Del Valle, 8/28).

11, Abby Barraza, Franklin, 19:52.45 (Canutillo, 8/21).

12, Salma Licon, Eastwood, 19:54.44 (Del Valle, 8/28).

13, Mia Rivera, Hanks, 19:57.47 (Del Valle, 8/28).

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

15, Natalie Rivera, Canutillo, 20:02.59 (Canutillo, 8/21).

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

17, Valeria Loo-Kung, Del Valle, 20:16.96 (Del Valle, 8/28).

17, Michele Paillard, Franklin, 20:47.35 (Southlake, 8/28).

18, Caroline Pitchkolan, Coronado, 20:52.26 (Canutillo, 8/21).

19, Alexa Lawrence, Coronado, 20:55.11 (Canutillo, 8/21).

20, Lexee Salas, Americas, 20:57.20 (Cleveland, 8/28).

21, Isabella Medina, Americas, 21:03.20 (Canutillo, 8/21).

22, Crystal Peterson, Jefferson, 21:08.65 (Chaparral, 8/28).

24, Monique Correa, Jefferson, 21:17.61 (Chaparral, 8/28).

25, Abigail Murillo, Bel Air, 20:18.22 (Del Valle, 8/28).

Burges senior Pam Ramirez has been the bright spot for the Mustangs this season. She owns the city’s fourth fastest time (18:59.11).


Power rankings
(number parenthesis indicate meets won):

1, Lauren Walls-Portillo, Eastwood, 19 (1).

1, Adelynn Rodriguez, Eastwood, 19 (1).

3, Alyssa Laspada, Franklin, 18 (1).

4, Pamela Ramirez, Burges, 17.

5, Natalia Martinez, Pebble Hills, 16 (1).

5, Natalie Rivera, Canutillo, 16 (1).

7, Jordan Torres, Franklin, 15.

8, Jenna Saunders, Franklin, 13.

8, Monique Correa, Jefferson, 13.

8, Mia Rivera, Hanks, 13.

Kassandra Jimenez, Montwood, 11.

Abby Barraza, Franklin, 10.

Carolina Zarrabal, Pebble Hills, 9.

Crystal Peterson, Jefferson, 9.

Alexa Rangel, Montwood, 7.

Andrea Castillo, EPHS, 7.

Anisa Sanchez, Del Valle, 6.

Elizabeth Hernandez, Austin, 6.

Adalia Olmos, Eastwood, 5.

Dania Cano, Canutillo, 5.

Ana Rojas, Socorro, 5.

Sofia Camacho, Franklin, 4.

Natalie Franco, Pebble Hills, 4.

Allison Perez, Coronado, 3.

Disany Sandoval, Del Valle, 3.

Salma Licon, Eastwood, 3.

Ana Rojas, Coronado, 3.

Giselle Rubio, Eastlake, 2.

Caroline Pitchkolan, Coronado, 2.

Olivia Garcia, Tornillo, 1.

Alexa Lawrence, Coronado, 1.

Jennifer Najar, Canutillo, 1.

Monday Cool Down: Walls-Portillo runs sub-18 5K

Eastwood senior Lauren Walls-Portillo had a milestone run on Saturday morning at Del Valle High School.

After years of training, Walls-Portillo finally ran a sub 18-minute 5K – finishing the Rudy Alvarez Invitational in 17:58.28.

“I ran an 18:04 at Vista Hills Golf Course and I was so bummed that I was four seconds away,” she said. “I’ve hunted for this 17 for so long and that I finally did it on a course that I love, I am so happy.”

Walls-Portillo picked up her first victory of the season out-distancing freshman teammate Adelynn Rodriguez (18:37.95) and Burges senior Pamela Ramirez (18:59.11).

Eastwood senior Lauren Walls-Portillo won Rudy Alvarez Invitational in 17:58.28 on Saturday.

Montwood junior Kassandra Jimenez was fourth in 18:59.84 and Pebble Hills junior Natalia Martinez was fifth in 19:08.03.

 The long, flat course at Del Valle High School was ripe for fast times.

“I’ve been running this course since I was seven- or eight-years old running with the El Paso Wings; I’ve loved this course forever,” she said. “Breaking 18 on this course is so special to me. It really signifies how far I’ve come and I recognize how much progress I’ve made since I was a child so it was important to me to break 18 here.”

Walls-Portillo, who is a three-time state qualifier, said there was a little special motivation heading into Saturday’s race.

“I don’t think I did very well in my first race of the season,” she said. “I loved how I came back from that experience. To come out and push myself the way I did in practice and during this race, I’m really proud of myself – and my teammates.”

Indeed.

The Troopers dominated, placing four runners in the top eight including Walls-Portillo, Rodriguez, senior Adalia Olmos (sixth, 19:41.07) and junior Salma Licon (eighth, 19:54.44).

“Our team had a rough first race at the SAC on concrete, but now that we’ve come back together on this flat course and did amazing, it’s awesome.”

Not to be outdone, the varsity boy’s race was just as amazing with Pebble Hills junior Omer Ibrahim outlasting Eastlake senior Israel David at the end. Coronado junior Luis Pastor was two seconds behind and finish third.

Pebble Hills junior Omer Ibrahim outlasted Eastlake senior Israel David to win the Rudy Alvarez Invitational. Coronado junior Luis Pastor was just strides behind to finish third.

“We were all pushing each other,” Ibrahim said. “Macho (David) was right next to me and Luis Pastor was there with us. We kept fighting and fighting and with about a half a mile to go, we all started pushing harder and harder.”

At the end, Ibrahim had just a tiny bit more winning in 15:02.15, David was second in 15:02.73 and Pastor third in 15:04.79.

“Heading into the final 50 meters, we all had to slow down around the corner so we wouldn’t slip,” he said. “We were able to pick up our speed and I saw that there were right there with me so I pushed even harder.”

David, who was a bronze medalist at last year’s Class 6A UIL Cross Country Championship, was all smiles after the race.

“Ah man, I tried to give it everything I had left,” he said. “I wanted to win my first race back; I’m really proud of my performance.”

He knew Ibrahim would be tough.

“We went to an elevation camp together in Cloudcroft so I knew he was training hard this summer,” David said. “He really pushed me in this race and that’s what I’m always looking for. There was a lot of excitement in the air with all the people cheering, it was really cool.”

David missed the first two weeks of the season after a positive COVID-19 test.

“During the first week I just couldn’t run, it would hurt so much,” he said. “But coming back and being in a race like that brought my motivation level up. It made me realize that this is my senior season and I have to make sure that this is my best season.”

High School Girls XC Poll: Week 2

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

Rudy Alvarez Invitational: 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 28 at Del Valle High School.  Burges, Coronado, Andress, Chapin, Pebble Hills, Socorro, Montwood, El Dorado, Eastwood, Valle Verde, Riverside, Del Valle, Hanks, Parkland, Bel Air, YWLA, Ft. Hancock, LPI, Harmony, Fabens, Cathedral, San Elizario, Clint, Horizon, Mt View, Eastlake.

Gadsden ISD Invitational: 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 28 at Chaparral High School. El Paso, Irvin, Santa Teresa, Chaparral, Gadsden, Ruidoso, Canutillo, Anthony.

Centennial Invite: 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 28 at Centennial High School in Las Cruces. Bowie.

Southlake Carroll Invitational: 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 28 at Southlake Carroll. Franklin.

Albuquerque Invitational: 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 28 at the University of New Mexico. Austin, Ysleta, Americas.

There is only one major in-town meet this week in El Paso – the Rudy Alvarez Invitational at Del Valle. The other meets are the Gadsden Invitational, the Centennial Invite, Albuquerque Invitational and the Southlake Carroll Invitational.

Top 10

1. Franklin: The Cougars won the Canutillo Invitational with a perfect score of 15. Junior Alyssa Laspada won the individual title in a time of 18:51.55. Senior Jordan Torres was third (19:22.07), senior Jenna Saunders was fourth (19:59.91), junior Abby Barraza was sixth (20:05.66) and junior Sofia Camacho was seventh in 20:27.15. Franklin will travel to Dallas on Saturday to compete at the Southlake Carroll Invitational.

2. Montwood:  The Rams did not run a full team at the Tornillo/San Elizario Invitational. Senior Alexa Rangel did finish fourth in 21:36.22 and junior Jazmine Miranda was 11th in 22:10.28. Expect the Rams to be at full strength at the Rudy Alvarez Invitational at Del Valle on Saturday.

3. Eastwood: The Troopers rested its top five runners at the Tornillo/San Elizario Invitational and still managed a second-place finish with 57 points. Three runners finished in the top 15 including Annika Cuellar (12th, 22:40.60), Giavanna Zubia (13th, 22:45.54) and Jasmine Martinez (15th, 22:56.72). Eastwood will race at the Rudy Alvarez Invitational at Del Valle on Saturday.

4. Jefferson: The Foxes did not run a full team at the Tornillo/San Elizario Invitational. Senior Monique Correra finished sixth in 21:45.01 and senior Crystal Peterson was 14th in 22:47.25). Jefferson will race at the Gadsden ISD Invitational at Chaparral High School on Saturday.

5. Bel Air:  Senior Abigail Murillo was lone Highlander to race at the Canutillo Invitational, finishing 16th in a 21:41.12. The team is scheduled to race at the Rudy Alvarez Invitational at Del Valle on Saturday.

6. Coronado: The T-Birds finished second at the Canutillo Invitational with 55 points. Coronado had four runners finishing in the 9 through 14 spots. Sophomore Caroline Pitchkolan was the low-stick runner finishing in 20:52.26 followed by classmate Alexa Lawrence (10th, 20:55.11), senior Banah Abdeljaber (13th, 21:21.56) and junior Kyra Walker (14th, 21:22.72). The team will Rudy Alvarez Invitational at Del Valle on Saturday.

7. Pebble Hills: The Spartans move up two spots after winning the Tornillo/San Elizario Invitational with 32 points. Junior Natalia Martinez won the race in 20:43.20. Sophomore Carolina Zarrabal was third in 21:19.44 and sophomore Natalie Franco was seventh in 21:53.35. Pebble Hills will race in a loaded field at the Rudy Alvarez Invitational at Del Valle on Saturday.

8. Hanks: The Knights raced to a third-place finish at the Tornillo/San Elizario Invitational with 83 points. Seniors Mia Rivera was second in 20:52.89 and Elizabeth Aguirre was 20th in 23:12.34. The team will race at the Rudy Alvarez Invitational at Del Valle on Saturday.

9. Del Valle: The Conquistadores move up one after its fourth-place finish at the Tornillo/San Elizario Invitational. The team finished with 83 points, the same amount as Hanks. Del Valle had two runners finish in the top 10 – Anisa Sanchez (5th, 21:44.42) and senior Disany Sandoval (8th, 21:59.04). Del Valle will race at its own invitational on Saturday.

10. Socorro: The Bulldogs make its season debut into the top 10 after placing third at the Canutillo Invitational with 82 points. Senior Ana Rojas was 8th in 20:33.84. Two other runners had top 20 races – senior Andrea Estrada (18th, 22:18.66) and senior Yanitza Olivares (19th, 22:19.96). The team will race at the Rudy Alvarez Invitational at Del Valle on Saturday.

Dropped out: El Paso High.

On the brink: Burges.

Franklin junior Alyssa Laspada won the individual title at the Canutillo Invitational in a time of 18:51.55 – tops in the city after two weeks.

Top times (3 mile or 5K)

1, Alyssa Laspada, Franklin, 18:51.55 (Canutillo, 8/21).

2, Pamela Ramirez, Burges, 19:11.82 (Canutillo, 8/21).

3, Jordan Torres, Franklin, 19:22.07 (Canutillo, 8/21).

4, Jenna Saunders, Franklin, 19:59.91 (Canutillo, 8/21).

5, Natalie Rivera, Canutillo, 20:02.59 (Canutillo, 8/21).

6, Abby Barraza, Franklin, 20:05.66 (Canutillo, 8/21).

7, Sofia Camacho, Franklin, 20:27.15 (Canutillo, 8/21).

8, Ana Rojas, Socorro, 20:33.84 (Canutillo, 8/21).

9, Natalia Martinez, Pebble Hills, 20:43.20 (Tornillo, 8/21).

10, Caroline Pitchkolan, Coronado, 20:52.26 (Canutillo, 8/21).

11, Mia Rivera, Hanks, 20:52.89 (Tornillo, 8/21).

12, Alexa Lawrence, Coronado, 20:55.11 (Canutillo, 8/21).

13, Michele Paillard, Franklin, 20:55.60 (Canutillo, 8/21).

14, Isabella Medina, Americas, 21:03.20 (Canutillo, 8/21).

15, Carolina Zarrabal, Pebble Hills, 21:19.44 (Tornillo, 8/21).

16, Banah Abdeljaber, Coronado, 21:21.56 (Canutillo, 8/21).

17, Kyra Walker, Coronado, 21:22.72 (Canutillo, 8/21)

18, Alexa Rangel, Montwood, 21:36.22 (Tornillo, 8/21).

19, Dana Cano, Canutillo, 21:37.71 (Canutillo, 8/21).

20, Abigail Murillo, Bel Air, 21:41.12 (Canutillo, 8/21).

21, Kayla Hicks, Franklin, 21:44.03 (Canutillo, 8/21).

22, Anisa Sanchez, Del Valle, 21:44.42 (Tornillo, 8/21).

23, Monique Correa, Jefferson, 21:45.01 (Tornillo, 8/21).

24, Natalie Franco, Pebble Hills, 21:53.35 (Tornillo, 8/21).

25, Disany Sandoval, Del Valle, 21:59.04 (Tornillo, 8/21).

After a wet opening week, the season got off to a full start on Saturday. As week three approaches, teams are still searching for the right seven to build a foundation for later in the season.


Power rankings
(number parenthesis indicate meets won):

1, Alyssa Laspada, Franklin, 18 (1).

2, Jordan Torres, Franklin, 15.

3, Jenna Saunders, Franklin, 13.

4, Mia Rivera, Hanks, 11.

5, Adelynn Rodriguez, Eastwood, 10 (1).

5, Abby Barraza, Franklin, 10.

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

8, Lauren Walls-Portillo, Eastwood, 9.

8, Pamela Ramirez, Burges, 9.

10, Carolina Zarrabal, Pebble Hills, 8.

Alexa Rangel, Montwood, 7.

Anisa Sanchez, Del Valle, 6.

Natalie Rivera, Canutillo, 6.

Monique Correa, Jefferson, 5.

Kassandra Jimenez, Montwood, 4.

Sofia Camacho, Franklin, 4.

Natalie Franco, Pebble Hills, 4.

Allison Perez, Coronado, 3.

Disany Sandoval, Del Valle, 3.

Ana Rojas, Coronado, 3.

Giselle Rubio, Eastlake, 2.

Caroline Pitchkolan, Coronado, 2.

Ana Rojas, Socorro, 1.

Olivia Garcia, Tornillo, 1.

Alexa Lawrence, Coronado, 1.

Monday Cool Down: Young Spartans find success

As Natalia Martinez toed the white chalk at the end zone of Tornillo High School’s football field, her heart was pumping a little faster than usual on Saturday morning.

It typically does when a cross country runner steps to the starting line, patiently waiting for the starter’s pistol to echo through the humid air.

“It was my first race, so I was super nervous,” Martinez said. “I looked down the line and all the girls looked really fast, and I started to doubt myself. But when I started running and got out in front, I felt good, I felt better about myself.”

Martinez, who is a soccer player by nature, felt a whole lot better after finishing the 3.1-mile desert course in 20:23.20, to win the Tornillo/San Elizario Invitational in her first race – EVER.

“At the beginning, maybe the first mile, I thought to myself, ‘hey, this isn’t so bad after all,’” she said. “It was later in the race when I really felt fatigued and I honestly thought about walking but I was halfway through it, so I said, ‘I’ll just finish it.’”

Martinez, a junior, was convinced by a friend this summer to give cross country a try.

“It’s fun, except when it feels like I’m going to die,” she joked.

Martinez first-place finish, Carolina Zarrabal’s third-place finish (21:19.44) and Natalie Franco’s seventh-place finish (21:53.35) led the Spartans to a team championship.

“We have a great team,” Martinez said. “We have a great dynamic and we push each other. It looks like we’re going to have a very good season together.”

Earlier in the morning, Omer Ibrahim – another Pebble Hills junior – won the boys race in 15:49.84 – a new course record.

“Coming into the race, I honestly didn’t feel too well but I was able to push through it,” Ibrahim said. “As the race went on, I felt better and in control and I kept going and going and going and finished strong.”

Omer Ibrahim, a junior at Pebble Hills, won the boys race in 15:49.84 – a new course record.

It was the first time in race history that a runner broke the 16-minute barrier.

“I’m very happy with the race,” he said. “I love training, I love running, it’s my escape route. Whenever I have issues or when I’m angry I let it out on the field, and it feels great. I feel relieved, I feel energized, I feel awesome.”

The boys finished second with 83 points.

“I’m excited about what the future holds for us,” said Basher Ibrahim, Pebble Hills cross country coach. “Both teams are young but I’m very proud of both teams, they did awesome, especially the girls, I think they have a really good chance to go to regionals.”

In a difficult District 1-6A with the likes of Franklin, Montwood and Eastwood making it to regionals could be a tall task for the young Spartans.

“The district is tough, but we take it one day at a time,” coach Ibrahim said. “I tell the kids it’s not about winning or losing it’s about doing your best and showing improvement every week. If you truly do your best, you can’t be disappointed in yourself, and nobody can be disappointed in you. The whole team gave it their best.”

Onward and Upward: El Paso cross country looks ahead to a brighter 2021

The 2020 cross country season was unprecedented.

It was a year where the season was one COVID-19 spike away from being cancelled. Matter of fact, the district championships were in serious jeopardy due to a surge in cases and hospitalizations.

A year later, with the pandemic still lingering, cross country athletes across the county are preparing for a long, grueling four months with hopes of earning a trip to the state championship on Nov. 6 in Round Rock.

The 2021 season begins Friday night at 11:25 p.m. with Montwood’s Race to Midnight at Socorro’s Student Activities Complex and on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. at the Mountain View High School Cross Country Invitational.

The San Elizario boys are working toward defending its Class 4A state title and the Eastwood boys are hoping to improve on their Class 6A runner-up finish from last year.

The Franklin girls will be seeking its third consecutive trip to state. The Cougars finished fourth behind state champ Lewisville Flower Mound, Southlake Carroll Conroe The Woodlands.

A new season brings new hope for El Paso runners. Key dates to remember are Oct. 16 (districts), Oct. 25 (regional) and Nov. 6 (state championship).

Individually, 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.

Also look for a strong season from Coronado junior Luis Pastor, Americas seniors Jared Laverty and Carmelo Corral, Eastwood seniors Isaac Mendoza and Andres Gurrola, Pebble Hills junior Omer Ibrahim, Hanks junior Alejandro Tarin, San Eliario junior Chris Moreno and Riverside senior Andrew Valdiviezo and Tornillo junior Angel Torres and freshman Daniel Romero.

Eastlake senior Israel David (left) is the top returning runner. David earned a bronze medal at last year’s Class 6A race.

On the girl’s side, Eastwood senior Lauren Walls-Portillo looks to have a breakout season. Walls-Portillo finished 17th at last year’s Class 6A state championship. Also look for Franklin juniors Alyssa Laspada, Jenna Saunders and Michele Paillard to have strong seasons as well as Montwood junior Kassandra Jimenez and Jefferson seniors Monique Correa and Crystal Peterson.

Eastwood senior Lauren Walls-Portillo finished 17th at last year’s Class 6A state championship. Walls-Portillo hopes to lead the Troopers back to regionals.

The season begins Friday night at 11:25 p.m. with Montwood’s Race to Midnight at Socorro’s Student Activities Complex and on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. at the Mountain View High School Cross Country Invitational.

Here is a look at the top 10 teams heading into the 2021 season.

Eastwood Andres Gurrola is one of six seniors for the Troopers. Eastwood finished 2020 with Class 6A state silver medal.

BOYS

  1. Eastwood: The Troopers finished 2020 with Class 6A state silver medal, just six points behind Southlake Carroll. The Troopers are in reload mode after losing four of its top five state finishers. Seniors Isaac Mendoza, Andres Gurrola and Victor Anchondo looked strong at the 5th annual Parra Law Road Race a few weeks ago. The team will look for seniors Nick Parra, Devon Paez and Dylan Sandoval and sophomore Jacob Beckett to pick up some points on the back end. The team is seeking its eighth straight state berth.

2. Americas:  The Trailblazers missed out on its third consecutive Class 6A state trip, finishing fourth place at last year’s regionals. Seniors Jared Laverty, Carmelo Corral and Aaron Saenz will be the front of the pack runners for Americas but will need to find four consistent runners on the back end to compete at the regional level.

3. San Elizario: The Eagles earned it seventh straight trip to state last year where the team won the Class 4A state championship. San Elizario lost its top two runners from last season and will lean on junior Chris Moreno and seniors Irvin Vazquez and Alan Ceballos for a possible return trip to Round Rock.

4. Coronado: The T-Birds will be led by juniors Luis Pastor and Sam Breceda, senior Stephen Pitchkolan with sophomore Carlos Mendez and junior Sam Flores filling out the top five. Look for Coronado to challenge for a spot to the Class 6A regional.

5. Franklin: The Cougars were young last year and it showed at the beginning of the season. Franklin showed great improvement as the season progressed and hope to build on that behind juniors Rai Lopez and Diego Flores and sophomores Matthew Engle and Sebastian Gonzalez, who were competitive at the Parra Law Road Race at Vista Hills Country Club. If healthy, Franklin should be strong enough to contend for a shot at regionals.

6. Hanks: The Knightshave a pair of solid runners – junior Alejandro Tarin and senior Gael Alvarado – who are capable of reaching state. Matter of fact, Tarin was a Class 5A qualifier and finished in the top 50. Hanks could contend for a district title depending on an unexperienced next five of seniors Matthew Abeyta and Daniel George and juniors Andres Garcia, Angel Gomez and Gael Ornales.

7. Cathedral: The Irish return six runners from a team that missed out on a state bronze medal at the Class 6A TAPPS state championship in 2020. A trio of juniors – Bernard Martinez, Elijah Noble and Jacob Noble – will lead the team with seniors Dylan Lorilla and Marcos Garcia, junior Victor Martinez and sophomore Preston Arnett adding additional back-end points.

8. Tornillo: Tornillo has established itself as a Class 3A state power, making 11 state appearances in the past 12 years. Sophomore Daniel Romero and junior Angel Torres will lead the team again this year. Torres was fourth and Romero finished 12 at last year’s state championship. The Coyotes are in desperate need of depth in order for a return to state.

9. Pebble Hills: For the first time in school history, the Spartans make an appearance in the pre-season Top 10. Junior Omer Ibrahim will lead a young promising Pebble Hills team. Junior Noah Castorena and Fernando Morales should help on the front end. The Spartans will definitely be a team to watch in the next few years.

10. Burges: The Mustangs return three seniors – David Herrera, Aaron Gomez and Julian Maldonado – with Region 1-5A meet experience. The defending four-time District 1-5A will be in for another solid season.

Dropped out: None.
On the verge: Bel Air, El Paso High, Riverside.

Junior Alyssa Laspada leads the Cougars this season. Franklin has made the Class 6A state championship the past two years and have won the past three District 1-6A team championships.

Girls

1. Franklin:  The Cougars have made two consecutive trips to the Class 6A state meet and have won three straight District 1-6A team championships. In order to maintain that level of racing, the Cougars will rely on a pair of seniors (Jenna Saunders and Jordan Torres) and four juniors led by Alyssa Laspada, Abigail Barraza, Sofia Camacho and Michelle Paillard. All six have been on varsity since their freshman season so expect similar results in 2021.

2. Montwood:  The Rams finished seventh in Region 1-6A in 2020 with Kassandra Jimenez advancing to state. The junior will lead a talented squad that includes junior Jazmine Miranda and senior Alexa Rangel. This could be another big season for the Rams.

3. Eastwood: Senior Lauren Walls-Portillo, who finished 17th at the Class 6A state championship, is poised to take over the reigns as El Paso top female runner. Eastwood, which missed out on regionals last year, will need big seasons from newcomer Adelynn Rodriguez, seniors Adalia Olmos and Jasmine Martinez and juniors Salma Licon and Sophia Watts. 

4. Jefferson: Seniors Monique Correra and Crystal Peterson are District 1-5A’s top runners. In order for the Foxes to return to Regionals, they will need consistency from seniors Jelia Lugo and Sophia Hernandez. Jefferson typically begins to peak in the second part of the season so don’t expect too much in the first month.

5. Bel Air:  The Highlanders, which won its first district championship since 1982 last fall, will be led by seniors Abigail Murillo and Jaylee Levario. The questions is –  can Bel Air find three runners to fill in for the three quality seniors it lost to graduation?

6. Coronado: The T-Birds have the potential to contend for a regional berth with the return of juniors Kyra Walker and senior Banah Abdeljaber. Junior Sonya Lee and sophomore Alexa Lawrence will provide some back-end support but Coronado must find some depth to complete the 5-7 spots.

7. El Paso High: El Paso High will try to build off its District 1-5A championship trip to the Region 1, Class 5A championship. Juniors Shayla Cohen Jones and Jezarae Valenzuela are the top returnees for the Tigers. El Paso is not a deep team so it might take some time before they reach its full potential.

8. Hanks: Seniors Mia Rivera and Madison Spencer hope to use their leadership to propel the Knights. Junior Ashley White and senior Ashley Ibarra will gobble up some points. Hanks will need some help in in the 5-7 spots to contend for a spot to the Region 1-5A championship.

9. Pebble Hills: For the first time in school history, the Spartans crack the pre-season top 10. The team will be led by newcomer Natalia Martinez who is nursing a minor injury. She will be supported by sophomores Natalie Franco and Carolina Zarrabal, Krystal Talavera and Alexis McBride. In a very competitive District 1-6A, Pebble Hills could be a season away from contending for a spot to regionals.

 10. Del Valle: The Conquistadores return its top three runners from a team that finished fourth in District 2-5A. Senior Disany Sandoval, sophomore Jaslyne Ramirez and junior Valeria Loo-Kung hope to lead Del Valle to a top three district finish and a trip to regionals.

Dropped out: None.

On the brink: Burges, Socorro.

Tornillo finishes in 7th in Class 3A; Angel Torres named All State

Make Plans

What: UIL State Cross Country Championship.

When:. Tuesday, Nov. 24: Class 4A boys, 11:30 a.m.; Class 6A girls, 1:30 p.m.; Class 6A boys, 2:15 p.m.

Where:  Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

At Stake: State team and individual titles.

Tornillo sophomore Angel Torres (center) earned All State honors after finishing sixth in Class 3A in 16:06.03. Sophomore Kylene Elias (left) and freshman Daniel Romero (right), were state nominated runners.

Day one of the 2020 UIL Cross Country Championship did not go as expected for El Paso Class 3A and 5A athletes.

The day ended with only one All State runner – Tornillo sophomore Angel Torres – who finished sixth in Class 3A in 16:06.03.

“I usually start slow but I had to man-up and start fast and it paid off,” Torres said. “It was a special feeling being able to represent Tornillo like that. I never thought this could happen but I knew I had the potential to do it.”

Tornillo coach Jesse Garcia said he knew Torres could be a top 10 runner.

“I told him before the race that I knew he had a whole other level but for some reason he seems afraid to reach it,” Garcia said. “I told him I know it’s there, just bring it, release it and that’s exactly what he did. He finally learned how to run at a big varsity event, hopefully he grows from here.”

The team placed seventh with 178 points. Presidio, which runs in the same district as Tornillo, won the state championship with 65 points followed by Valley View (101) and Whitesboro (102).

Freshman Daniel Romero was 21st in 16:33.23, seniors Bryan Garcia (53rd, 17:05.24) and senior Michael Maney (87th, 17:44.05) finished 3rd and 4th for Tornillo while junior Bryan Guzman (122nd, 20:56.32), who was nursing an injury was Tornillo’s fifth man.

“It was a rollercoaster of season, so many ups and downs,” Garcia said. “It felt like an obstacle course. There were one too many things to deal with this season. It really was a season that wasn’t supposed to happen but yet we managed to get to state again.”

It was the 11th Tornillo team to advance to state in the past 12 years.

“I am really proud of the kids,” he said. “We could have given up a long time ago, yet they were resilient. Am I happy with our performance at state – no – but it was a learning experience and we got through the season.

Tornillo sophomore Kylene Elias finished in 14th place in the girl’s two-mile race in 12:32.69.

In Class 5A boys, Chapin’s Joaquin Ortega capped his senior year finishing 42nd at state in 16:06.82, Hanks sophomore Alex Tarin was 47th in 16:07.77 and El Paso High senior Josep Ferret was 106th in 17:13.37.

The two girls representing El Paso in Class 5A finished back-to-back – Jefferson junior Monique Correa was 100th in 19:52.85 and Burges junior Pamela Ramirez was 101st in 19:53.14.