Monday Cool Down: A chat with Franklin’s Ally Little

Franklin’s Ally Little has made the transition from soccer to cross country a relatively easy one. In her first season of distance, the senior owns the city’s third quickest 3-mile times.

When you watch Franklin senior Allyson “Ally” Little run cross country, you would think she has been running all her life.

In sense, she has.

But most of her running was the explosive, high-intensity runs, the kind of sprints you would expect from a soccer player – not the long, melodic, tempo-paced runs of a distance runner.

There is a reason for that. Ever since she could walk, Little has played soccer.

And she has excelled at it, too, earning first-team El Paso Times and All District 1-6A honors as a midfielder in a COVID-19-shortend 2020 season.

In her three years on the varsity, Little scored 19 goals and assisted on 10 others for the Franklin Cougars.

Last summer, her club team, the FC U18 Rage, qualified for the U.S. Youth Soccer National Presidents Cup by winning a regional tournament in Round Rock.

It is the first time an El Paso team had qualified for the national tournament in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

But simply qualifying was not enough as FC Rage defeated the Central California Aztecs 2-1 in the championship to win the Presidents Cup.

This summer, with the coronavirus outbreak crippling the country, Little shifted her focus from   soccer to distance running, a sport where social distancing is never a problem. A sport Little had never tried.

Little – who is one of only two seniors on the squad – made an already dominate team, even stronger, quickly becoming one of the team’s low-stick runners, consistently finishing behind University of Texas commit Eva Jess.

“It’s been fun to be a part of this team and to be able to help win a title,” she said after finishing third at Saturday’s District 1-6A championship. “It’s been an amazing season. I have an amazing team that pushes me and an amazing coach who designs the workouts for us to have a chance to do great.”

Franklin won its third consecutive District 1-6A team title, scoring 28 points.

Little owns the third fastest 3-mile time in the city posting a 18:39.33 at the Haskins Recreation Center course on Oct. 3.

“Playing soccer has helped me because of all the running I’ve done in that sport,” she said. “Every week I’ve tried to get better.”

Little tasted the running bug last spring when she ran the 800 and the 4X4 relay for Franklin’s track team.

“My soccer coach agreed to let me run three meets during my bye weeks,” Little said. “That’s when I fell in love with running. When I run, it gives me an adrenaline rush.”

Little is surprised by how well the season has gone for her.

“I learned that I can really push myself,” she said. “Being surrounded by such amazing teammates and a coach who is always encouraging us made me realize that I can do this.”

The Cougars are on to the Region 1, Class 6A Cross Country Championship on Nov. 10 at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock, with an opportunity to advance to its second consecutive state championships.

“I’m really looking forward to regionals,” Little said. “The team mentioned a few things about it like how we have to be mentally prepared and be together as pack to help us succeed.”

Cathedral finished one point away from reaching the podium at the TAPPS, Class 6A Cross Country Championship on Monday in Hewitt.

TAPPS State Championship

Cathedral finished one point away from reaching the podium at the TAPPS, Class 6A Cross Country Championship on Monday in Hewitt.

The Fighting Irish scored 102 points, just one point behind San Antonio’s Central Catholic High School for the bronze medal.

Cathedral had four runners in the top 20 – Luis Gomez (14th, 17:24.9), Bernard Martinez (15th, 17:25.9), Elijah Noble (16th, 17.:30) and Dylan John Lorilla (20th, 17:32.1).

San Antonio Antonian won the state title with 38 points and Houston’s St. Thomas was second with 59 points.

The Loretto Academy girls also competed in Class 6A and finished 12th with 326 points. The Angels were led by Mariah and Britney Martinez, who finished 56th and 57th overall.  

Tornillo sophomore Kylene Elias defended her District 3-4A individual crown racing the 2-mile course in 14:04.94 Saturday afternoon in Presidio.

District 3-4A Championship

Tornillo sophomore Kylene Elias defended her District 3-4A individual crown racing the 2-mile course in 14:04.94 Saturday afternoon in Presidio.

Also finishing in the top 10 for Tornillo were freshman Nataly Escajeda (fourth, 15:34.72) and junior Olivia Garcia (eighth, 15:48.02).

Presidio won the team title with 43 points followed by Tornillo (50) and Kermit (56).

Presidio and Tornillo will advance to the Region 1, Class 3A Cross Country Championship on Nov. 9 at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock.

The Tornillo boys will advance to regionals after placing second, missing out on the district championship by three points.

Presidio won the event with 32 points, Tornillo was second with 35 points and Alpine was a distant third with 72 points.

Tornillo placed three runners in the top 10 – freshman Daniel Romero (second, 17:19.75), sophomore Angel Torres (third, 17:28.88) and senior Bryan Garcia (fifth, 17:45.78).

Monday Cool Down: Eastwood’s Lauren Walls-Portillo establishes personal best in biggest win of her high school career – so far

Eastwood junior Lauren Walls-Portillo Walls-Portillo turned in a personal best 18:04.35, to win the inaugural Parra Law XC Classic at Vista Hills Country Club.

Eastwood junior Lauren Walls-Portillo could not hear her mother Stacy Walls’ words of encouragement at Saturday’s Parra Law XC Classic at Vista Hills Country Club.

But she felt them.

As her daughter was finishing the final half mile of the 3.1-mile course, Wall’s implored to her daughter, “don’t lose this opportunity.”

The “opportunity” in question was not losing a slim lead over Franklin senior Eva Jess, who in her four-year career has never lost in El Paso.

Walls-Portillo turned in a personal best 18:04.35, to win the inaugural Parra Law XC Classic – her biggest win of her high school career.

“She told me she said that, but I was so focused on what I was doing, I couldn’t hear her,” Walls-Portillo said with a laugh. “I thought that was amazing, even if I didn’t hear her.”

Jess, who verbally committed to the University of Texas last week, was second in 18:20.41.

“Eva has been a person that I have looked up to for so long because we started at a young age together,” Walls-Portillo said. “She has been so amazing all these years. She has driven me to work so much harder. In my mind, it wasn’t that I beat her. In my mind, it was that I worked hard enough to get to her level which was really good for me.”

Walls-Portillo came into Saturday’s race feeling at the top of her game.

“Honestly, I felt great the entire race, but it wasn’t until the start of the second lap is when I felt ‘oh my gosh, this could really happen,’” she said. “I felt so good and I felt I had a lot of energy to kick, that’s when I started to think ‘Ok, I got this, I’m going to be OK.’”

The Cougars won the team championship with 21 points, followed by Eastwood (59), Montwood (64), Class 3A Tornillo (124), Bel Air (130) and Hanks (157).

Franklin placed six runners in the top 8 including Jess, Ally Little (third, 18:44.19), Alyssa Laspada (fourth, 19:03.19), Michele Paillard (fifth, 19:50.57), Sofia Camacho (seventh, 19:55.96) and Jenna Saunders (eighth, 19:56.83).

Montwood had three in the top 10 – Karyme Garcia (sixth, 19:53.12), Alexa Rangel (ninth, 20:08.85) and Jazmine Miranda (tenth, 20:09.54).

Two weeks ago Walls-Portillo was 10th in the girl’s Sweepstakes Division finishing in 18:14.62 at the 13th annual Desert Twilight Cross Country Festival in Arizona.

“We didn’t know any of the teams there so there wasn’t anyone we had to specifically beat so our coach said run smart and you’ll run good,” she said. “I performed really well because I had no pressure to beat anyone because I didn’t know any of the girls there. I ran my best and so did my team. I watched them run as fast as I have ever seen them run because we finally got the chance to run an out of town and race.”

Walls-Portillo’s 18:04.35 on Saturday was 10 seconds faster than what see ran in Arizona.

“Eva pushed me hard, she pushed me to my limit,” she said. “I knew Eva was not going to let me go. I knew she was going to strive and push me the entire race. I could not have hit that 18:04 if it wasn’t for her. She is such a strong runner, so being up there with her gave me that extra push that I needed. Being up there with her gave me an adrenaline rush for the finish.”

The Eastwood boys were just as impressive as Franklin’s girls – winning the team championship one spot short of another perfect score.

San Elizario, who was without Edwin Gomez, was second with 76 points, Tornillo third (82), Franklin fourth (83), Hanks fifth (133) and Bel Air sixth (137).

Eastwood took seven of the top 10 spots including invitational winner senior Sergio Leon Cuartas (15:42.04). San Elizario’s Dilan Sanchez (third, 16:1138) was the only non-Eastwood athlete in the top seven.

Sergio Leon Cuartas.

Eastwood runners in the top 10 were Isaac Mendoza (second, 15:53.15), Nathan Hernandez (fourth, 16:16.85), Victor Anchondo (fifth, 16:17.94), Victor Parra (sixth, 16:20.38), Andres Gurrola (seventh 16:26.93) and Devon Paez (ninth, 16:34.51).

Hanks’s Alejandro Tarin was eighth in 16:32.73 and Tornillo’s Angel Torres was tenth 16:37.60.

Leon Cuartas has developed into a team leader for the Troopers. Two weeks ago, he led a group of five runners in the top 14 to win the Sweepstakes Division of the 13th annual Desert Twilight XC Festival in San Tan Valley, Ariz. with 53 points. Leon Cuartas who was third in 15:15.53.

“Working hard and trusting in my coach and in my team has made a major difference in my development,” Leon Cuartas said. “Every time I race, I race for my team. I really want to do well for them. We all run better knowing that we are doing it for each other. It’s all about the team-first mentality. It’s about running for your team, that’s what separates us from other people. We all know our role and we accept it. It all comes down to that team mentality.”

Americas Invitational (SAC)

Eastlake junior Israel David returned to racing on Friday morning with his fourth individual championship at the Americas Invitational at Socorro’s Student Activities Complex.

Israel David.

David, who is unbeaten and unchallenged this fall, won the race in 15:48.8.

The Americas boys continued its surge winning the team championship with 30 points. The team was led by junior Carmelo Corral who was second in 16:13.7. Other top 10 finishers for the Trailblazers were Michael Mier (fourth, 16:17.9), Jared Laverty (fifth, 16:30.1) and Aaron Saenz (seventh, 17:14.3).

Coronado was second with 42 points followed by Eastlake (63), Del Valle (132), Socorro (149) and Ysleta (155).

Coronado sophomore Luis Pastor was one of four T-Birds to finish in the top 10. He was third in 16:16.6, Corey Dubrule was sixth in 17:06.6, Sam Breceda was ninth in 17:46.6 and Stephen Pitchkolan was tenth.

Del Valle’s Miguel Avila was eighth in 17:38.2.

Coronado sophomore Kyra Walker won her second meet of the season racing to a 21:56.9. Eastlake’s Megan Kirtley was second in 22:11.0 and Americas’ Isabella Medina was third in 22:17.5.

Eastlake’s Giselle Rubio crossed the finish line in 22:59.2, good for the seventh spot. Her late push provided vital points as the Falcons took the team championship with 58 points, two better than Amercas. Socorro was third with 75 followed by Del Valle (77), Ysleta, (173), and Young Women’s Leadership Academy (184).

Coronado did not run a full team but still managed to have three top 10 runners – Walker, Alexa Lawrence (sixth, 22:59.0) and Sonya Lee (ninth, 23:11.6).

Other top 10 runners were Samantha Ramirez, Socorro (fourth, 22:36.7),  Mia Vargas, Americas (fifth, 22:57.4),  Ana Rojas, Socorro (eighth, 23:10.6) and Jaslyne Ramirez, Del Valle (tenth, 23:21.3).

Cathedral/Harmony Invitational (Veterans Park)                                              

Parkland senior Angie Lujan-Marrufo won her fifth consecutive race winning in 20:36.2.

Jefferson won the team title with 20 points, placing runners in the second through sixth spots – Monique Correa (second, 21:01.5), Crystal Peterson (third, 21:35.7), Melody Tsutsumi (fourth, 21:55.5),  Jelia Lugo (fifth, 23:30.6) and Irma Munoz (sixth, Jefferson, 23:55.3).

Angie Lujan-Marrufo.

Parkland had four in the top 10 including Lujan-Marrufo, Paola Bolanos Hernandez (seventh, 25:25.1), Claudia Vargas (eighth, 25:54.1) and Yulianna Anahi Martinez (tenth, 27:21.7).

Chapin’s Bianca Quintero was ninth in 26:28.7.

Parkland scored 37 points and took second place.

Chapin senior Joaquin Ortega won his third championship of the season finishing the race in 16:41.3 while Cathedral won the team title with 20 points.

The Irish had seven runners in the top 10 led by Luis Gomez (second, 17:25.1), Bernard Martinez (third, 17:27.9), Elija Noble (fourth, 17:28.5), Jacob Noble (fifth, 17:37.9), Dylan Lorilla, Cathedral (sixth, 18:11.5), Preston Arnett (eighth, 19:05.6) and Marcos Garcia (ninth, 19:05.9).

Chapin’s Cesar Sandoval was seventh in 18:36.3 and Jefferson’s Isaac Ortega was tenth in 19:17.3.

Bowie was second with 87 points and Parkland was third with 99 points.  

Clint ISD Invitational (Horizon High School)

Horizon, El Dorado, Clint, Riverside, Fabens, Burges and Canutillo participated. However, results were not reported.

Austin Invitational (Skyline Park)

Austin, El Dorado, Irvin, Andress, Valle Verde and Loretto participated. However, results were not reported.

Monday Cool Down: Getting to know Parkland’s Angie Lujan-Marrufo

Parkland senior Angie Lujan-Marrufo is off to a fast start this season, winning four straight invitationals.

On Saturday, Angie Lujan-Marrufo ran away with her fourth individual championship of 2020 at the Canutillo/Anthony Invitational.

The Parkland High School senior completed the course at Canutillo Middle School in 19:56.37, well ahead of Coronado teammates Kyra Walker (21:12.59) and Alexa Lawrence (21:26.33).

The T-Birds won the team championship with 45 points, followed by Clint (81), Del Valle (83), Parkland (131) and Riverside (150).

Filling out the top 10 were Annette Guzman, Burges (21:28.37), Janice Olivas, Clint, (21:56.31), Ivy Lara, Canutillo (21:59.18), Natalie Rivera, Canutillo (22:02.78), Vanessa Preciado, Canutillo, (22:03.36), Vivian Zapata, Clint (22:05.75) and Emily Antimo, Burges (22:10.40).

Entering week four of the cross-country season, Lujan-Marrufo owns the city’s second best 5K/3-mile time turning in a 19:12.42 at Veterans Park on Sept. 26.

Her success is quite amazing considering it was only two years ago when she began to take distance training seriously.

“I’ve been running cross country since middle school, but it wasn’t until the summer before my sophomore year when I started to train properly,” she said. “I thought cross country was running forever and ever. I really didn’t put much thought into it until then.”

It was the summer of 2018 when she began working out with Sarah Austin, Abriyah Skull, and Janae Ramirez, members of the Wings summer club team.

“I grew a love for distance that summer,” she said. “Running with new people and getting their perspective on distance running helped. They were really devoted to cross country which gave me an appreciation for distance. Training with them, I didn’t want to feel like the slacker of the group, so I put in a little more effort.”

Lujan-Marrufo, who was already a top USATF 800-runner in her age group, began to train properly.

“I started doing the things that I was supposed to be doing,” she said. “I love cross country now. I really love it. Hearing stories about what other girls have accomplished ahead of me made me want to be a part of that history.”

At last year’s District 2-5A Championship Lujan-Marrufo was third in 20:42.54 and ended her junior cross-country season in 53rd place (19:57.30) at the Region 1-5A Championship.

“I never knew I could run as fast I am right now,” she said. “I thought I would be running low 20s or high 19s but now I know what I’m capable of with training and hard work. I want to break 18.”

She knows a sub 18 is within her reach.

“In the past, I relied too much on my talent,” she said. “Even through someone has talent, it’s not a reason why they shouldn’t work harder, and I took that personally.”

Strangely, when track competition was cancelled in the spring due to the coronavirusLujan-Marrufo did not have any hard feelings.

“I didn’t feel bad about it,” she said. “I was actually looking forward to cross country even more. But as time went on, I wasn’t really sure there was going to be a cross-country season, so I wasn’t training at all. I would go on a two-mile run and I would be so tired, I was so out of shape.”

She is looking at the season as an opportunity to showcase the work she has put in the past two years.

“I lost part of my track season my junior year and I knew this would be my last year so I had to give it my all,” she said.

She looks to her mother, Sandra Lujan, for motivation.

“She’s really into my running life,” she said. “She is the one who tells me about my competition and what other people are running. She’s a real cross country and track mom. She always has these dreams of me running in college and going pro. I just want to make her happy and proud.”

Because of COVID-19 protocols, the UIL is not allowing cross country meets to exceed six teams so many of this season’s races are small.

In two weeks, Lujan-Marrufo is scheduled to run the Vista Hills Invitational against a few of the city’s top girl’s teams including No. 2 Montwood and No. 3 Eastwood.

“That’s one meet I’m really preparing for,” she said. “I get to run against Lauren (Eastwood’s Lauren Walls-Portillo). We’re good friends, we ran on the same club team. I remember at district last year she was so far ahead of me. I always imagined being up there with her. My goal for that meet is to stay close and hopefully pass her if I have the right training. We’ll see how it goes.”

For now, Lujan-Marrufo is happy, flashing that gold medal smile after every race.

“I’ve come to learn that no matter where you are in your training, there is always room for improvement, always room to work harder,” she said. “I’m really happy with the times that I’ve been running. Just to see how far I’ve come in these three years has been amazing. I never knew that I could be doing what I am right now.”

The future is bright for Lujan-Marrufo who hopes pandemic conditions improve enough to have a spring track season.

She is keeping her college options open for now.

“I’ve been in contact with a few colleges, mostly with NMSU and Texas State,” she said. “I’m not too sure as to where I want to go. I don’t want to go too far. I’m keeping my options open. I’m just taking it slow and so what happens during track season.”

On the boy’s side of the Canutillo/Anthony Invitational, Coronado took the first three spots and four out of the top 10.

Luis Pastor picked up his second varsity win (16:47.00) followed by Corey Dubrule (17:06.18) and

Sam Breceda (17:07.90). Stephen Pitchkolan was tenth in 17:49.00.

Filling out the top 10 were – Riverside’s Andrew Valdiviezo (fourth, 17:16.0), Del Valle’s Miguel  Avila (fifth, 17:20.65),  Canutillo’s Danovan Estrada (sixth, 17:23.96), Burges’ Dylan  Walker (seventh, 17:26.78), teammate Julian Maldonado (eighth, 17:43.56) and Parkland’s Kenneth Goldstone Lamar (tenth, 17:46.52).

Desert Twilight (San Tan Valley, Ariz.)

The Eastwood boys won the high school Sweepstakes Division of the Desert Twilight XC Festival in San Tan Valley, Ariz. with 53 points and San Elizario was fourth with 162 points.

The Eastwood boys won the high school Sweepstakes Division of the Desert Twilight XC Festival in San Tan Valley, Ariz. with 53 points.

The Troopers had five runners in the top 14 lead by Sergio Leon Cuartas who was third in 15:15.53. Eastwood had runners take the 11-14 spots including Aaron Perez (11th, 15:51.02),           Isaac Mendoza (12th, 15:52.26), Victor Anchondo (13th, 15:55.35) and Victor Parra (14th, 15:57.58)          

San Elizario had two runners in the top six – Edwin Gomez, (5th, 15:36.48) and Dilan Sanchez (6th, 15:40.33).

Bel Air was 15th in the boy’s Championship Division.  William Moreno was the Highlanders top runner, finishing 30th in 17:27.16.      

Eastwood’s Lauren Walls-Portillo was 10th in the girl’s high school Sweepstakes Division finishing in 18:14.62.

The Eastwood girls placed fourth in the high school Championship race with 132 points and Bel Air was 12th with 288 points.

Amber Martin lead the Troopers, placing 13th in 20:40.65 while Bel Air’s Abagail Murillo was 23rd in 21:00.46.           

Franklin Invitational (Haskins Rec Center)

The Franklin girlstook the first seven spots in route to a perfect score (15 points).

Franklin was again led by Eva Jess (first, 18:16.91), who gave her verbal commitment to the University of Texas at Austin on Friday night.

Ally Little was second in 18:39.33, Alyssa Laspada third in 19:14.63, Jenna Saunders was fourth in 19:43.31; Jordan Torres (fifth, 19:56.30), Michele Paillard (sixth,  20:04.58) and Sofia Camacho (seventh, 20:27.05). Amanda Sotelo was ninth for Franklin (21:06.85).

Jefferson’s Crystal Peterson was eighth in 20:45.57 and teammate Monique Correa was 10th in 21:09.61.

The Foxes placed second overall with 62 points followed by Americas with 63.

On the boy’s side, Americas junior Jared Laverty won his first varsity meet, leading the Trailblazers to a team championship in 16:02.13.

Americas junior Jared Laverty won his first varsity race in 16:02.13 to led the Trailblazers to another team championship.

Americas runners took the first four spots and five of the top 8 including Michael Mier (second,  16:06.82), Aaron Saenz (third, 16:08.66), Carmelo Corral (fourth, 16:25.95) and Jesse Morales (eighth, 17:26.45).

The Trailblazers scored 18 points followed by Franklin (37) and Valle Verde (85).

Cougar runners make up the remaining five spots in the top 10 led by Rai Lopez (fifth, 16:43.41), Matthew Engle (sixth, 16:54.70), Andres Buckley (seventh, 17:14.12), Diego Flores (ninth, 17:36.02) and Octavio Trujillo (tenth, 17:41.92).

Cathedral/Loretto Invitational (Veterans Park)

A pair of sophomore runners – Tornillo’s Kylene Elias and Pebble Hills’ Omer Ibrahim – continued their early season success taking individual titles at the Cathedral/Loretto Invitational at Veterans Park.

Elias won in 20:19.07 and lead the Coyotes to a team championship with 32 points. Pebble Hills was second with 36 followed Loretto (55), Young Women’s Leadership (100) and Ysleta, (120).

Including Elias, Tornillo had four runners in the top 10 – Nat Escajeda (seventh, 21:46.43), Olivia Garcia            (eighth, 21:51.64) and Brianna Ibarra (tenth, 22:16.78).

Carolina Zarrabal (second, 20:23.25) and Natalie Franco (sixth, 21:42.67), led Pebble Hills.

Other top 10 runners were three Eastwood athletes – Victoria Ovalles (third, 20:31.75), Hannah Tellez (fifth, 21:40.42) and Monica Hagerich (ninth, 22:00.66).

Loretto senior Britney Martinez was fourth in 21:37.76.

Ibrahim won his second invitational this season turning in a 15:39.22.

The Tornillo boys won the team title with 21 points. Pebble Hills was second with 34 points and Ysleta was third with 75.

The Coyotes had four runners in the top 7 – Angel Torres (second, 16:28.74), Bryan Garcia (third, 16:45.10), Daniel Romero (fifth, 17:04.62) and Bryan Guzman (seventh, 17:19.62).

Other top 10 runners were Andress’ Jarrett Ketchmark (fourth, 16:53.88), Eastwood’s Joaquin Chavez (sixth, 17:17.31) and Anthony Casillas (eighth, 17:27.82), Pebble Hills’ Noah Castorena (ninth, 17:35.96) and Anthony Soto from Fabens (tenth, 17:37.36).

Eastlake Invitational (SAC)

Please bear with us on this one. The results were difficult to obtain and are still not confirmed. There also seems to be issues with timing and placement.

From what we were able to gather, the two individual winners were Horizon’s Andrea Villagomez (19:08:50.0) and Hanks’ Gael Alvarado (15:43.4).

Horizon’s Andrea Villagomez won the Eastlake Invitational in 19:08:50.0.

It appears the El Paso High girls won the team event with 20 points followed by Hanks (37) and Horizon (61).

El Paso High placed four girls in the top 10 – Alissa Kennedy (third, 19:55.4), Jezarae Valenzuela (fourth, 19:59.9), Shayla Cohen Jones (fifth, 20:02.8) and Vivian Shaheen (tenth, 22:15.1).    

The Knights had three in the top 10 including runner-up Mia Rivera (19:40:00.0), Madison Spencer (seventh, 20:47.0) and Jade Baca (ninth, 21:19.3).

Rounding out the top 10 were Austin’s Mora Montes (sixth, no time reported) and Horizon’s Jaquelin Gonzalez (eight, 21:17.6).

On the boy’s side, Hanks won the team title with 31 points followed by El Paso High with 39 and Horizon with 52.

The Knights place four in the top 10 – Alvarado, Alejandro Tarin (second, 15:45.2), Michael Antuna (seventh, 16:29.2) and Andres Garcia (tenth, 17:42.3).

El Paso High’s top runners were Josep Ferret (third, 15:48.4), David Ramirez (fourth, 16:04.4) and Leo Valenzuela (eighth, 17:00.8).

Rounding out the top 10 are Austin’s Jose Nilo (fifth, no time reported), and two Horizon runners Ivan Hernandez (sixth, 16:19.8) and Yahir Barrios (ninth, 17:20.1).

Monday Cool Down: Chillin’ with Tornillo’s Kylene Elias and San Elizario’s Edwin Gomez

The San Elizario/Tornillo Invitational featured three state ranked teams – Tornillo in Class 3A, San Elizario in Class 4A and Eastwood in Class 6A.

TORNILLO-San Elizario senior Edwin Gomez and Tornillo sophomore Kylene Elias are familiar with success.

In his previous three years, Gomez won two UIL state cross country championships and finished with a silver medal last year. He also owns two golds and a silver medal from the Class 4A, Region 1 championship in his career.

Elias had a breakout fall season in 2019, winning the Class 3A, Region 1 championship and finished her freshman year with bronze medal at the state championship.

Each added to their local medal totals at the San Elizario/Tornillo Invitational at Tornillo High School on Saturday – Gomez winning in 16:26.23 and Elias in 21:12.56.

For Gomez, it was his first victory in three races this season and Elias’ second in a row after sitting out the Andress Invitational at Skyline Park.

Both attribute their slow starts to lack of training during COVID summer.

“I didn’t do much training during the summer,” Gomez said. “I was working construction in Dallas and I would be tired when I got home so I don’t have time to practice.”

San Elizario senior Edwin Gomez won his first invitational of the season, racing to 16:26.23 at the desert course at Tornillo High School.

But now that the season has begun, Gomez has turned in his hard hat and tool belt is looking forward to his senior year.

“I want to win another team state championship and try to get that first place individually,” he said. “Right now I’m not even close to where I want to be. I’m working on running a 15:15.00, that’s my goal. I’m running with the team in the morning, and in the afternoon, I’m doing 5 to 6 miles on my own because I didn’t get much training in the summer.”

In the desert course at Tornillo, the San Elizario boys – the No. 1 ranked Class 4A team in the state – finished second with 40 points, 12 points behind Eastwood who rested its top 5 runners in the boy’s and girl’s races.

Two of Gomez’s teammates – Dilan Sanchez (second, 16:42.51) and Chris Moreno (seventh, 17:24.61) – finished in the top 10.

The Troopers had its five scoring runners in the top 10 led by Victor Anchondo (third, 16:48.55), Nick Parra (fourth, 16:49.19), Devon Paez (fifth, 16:52.33) and Andres Gurrola (sixth, 16:57.09).

Tornillo, ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 3A, placed runners – Angel Torres (17:27.96) and Bryan Garcia (17:30.50) – to finish third with 82 points,  Bel Air was fourth (99) and Del Valle fifth (117).

Eastwood’s Joaquin Chavez rounded out the top 10 in 17:51.07.

On the girl’s side, Eastwood win the team championship with 29 points followed by Tornillo with 55 points, Bel Air (63) and Del Valle (85).

Bel Air’s Abigail Murillo finished second behind Elias in 21:47.57.

Eastwood had five runners in the top 10 including Trinity Martinez (third, 21:50.77), Desiree Carrillo (fourth, 22:07.98),  Amaryllis Rubalcaba (sixth, 22:29.71), Hannah Tellez (seventh, 22:39.00), Alexis Vasquez (ninth, 22:51.27) and Jasmine Martinez (tenth, Eastwood, 23:04.55).

Olivia Garcia was fifth for Tornillo (22:17.07) and Bel Air’s Sara Armendariz was eighth (22:44.36).

“It was so hard to train this summer because of COVID,” Elias said. “Coach would send us the workouts and we would practice on our own. We had to do that until August when we came back to school and practiced as a team.”

Like Gomez, Elias acknowledged not training as hard as she should have in the summer.

After missing the first race of the season, Tornillo sophomore Kylene Elias has won two in a row after turning in a 21:12.56 at the Tornillo Invitational.

“I kind of slacked off,” she said, letting out a big laugh. “I’m not going to lie to you. But it was just a little bit.”

The experience of her freshman season – a district and regional championship and a bronze medal at state – has motivated Elias to get serious about her training again.

“I’m very eager to run and do my best this year because we have such a great team,” she said. “We have freshman named Nat (Escajeda) who is a great runner. I’m looking forward to see what we can do as a team at regionals and maybe state.”

She is looking to share the state experience with her teammates this year.

“Last year when it was just me, it was boring,” Elias said. “When I went to state, it seemed to motivate the team and now they want to go as well. I know my role is to be a leader and to work harder so we can all make it to state.”

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Other highlights and results from across the city:

Dale Reinhardt Invitational (SAC)

The Americas boys won the event with 23 points followed by Cathedral (39), Socorro (79) and Montwood (83).

Americas placed runners in the first four spots led by Carmelo Corral who picked up his second straight meet victory in 17:13.37. Jared Laverty was second in 17:44.75, Michael Mier was third in  17:50.77 and Aaron  Saenz was fourth (18:18.00).

The rest of the top 10 were Luis Gomez, Cathedral,  18:21.49; Elijah  Noble, Cathedral,  19:29.13.; Bernard  Martinez, Cathedral, 19:53.52; Trenton Nelson, Montwood, 19:56.80; Jacob  Noble,   Cathedral,   20:09.25 and Mathew Estrada, Socorro,  20:27.99. 

The Montwood girls won the varsity division with 16 points followed by Loretto (69), Americas (70) and Socorro (85).

Montwood’s Jazmine Miranda won her first championship in 21:57.64 at the Dale Reinhardt Invitational at the SAC.

The Rams Jazmine Miranda won her first championship in 21:57.64 to lead five Montwood runners in the top six. Kassandra Jimenez was second in 22:10.52 followed by Alexa Rangel (22:29.60) Natalie Espinosa (23:02.45) in fourth and Karyme Garcia (24:29.39) in sixth.

Other top 10 runners were Samantha Ramirez, Socorro (fifth, 23:57.92), Morayma  Montes, Austin (seventh, 24:30.91), Isabella Medina, Americas (eighth, 25:14.25),  Britney Martinez, Loretto (ninth, 25:40.30) and Mia  Vargas, Americas (tenth, 25:51.73).

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Coronado Invitational (Haskins Recreation Center)

Eastlake junior Israel David won his third straight invitational in 15:40.96 but it was Coronado – who placed three runners in the 2-3-5-6 spots – who won the team championship with 29 points. Eastlake was second with 39 and El Paso High was third with 62.

Coronado’s Luis Pastor was second in 16:41.71 followed by teammates Corey Dubrule (third, 16:52.53), Sam Breceda (fifth, 17:04.59) and Stephen Pitchkolan (sixth, 17:31.10). El Paso High’s Josep Ferret was fifth in 17:00.20. Rounding out the top 10 were Jarrett Ketchmark, Andress (seventh, 17:43.52), David Ramirez, El Paso (eighth, 17:58.94), Mario Elias, Eastlake (ninth, 18:11.52) and Angel Recio Martinez,  Eastlake (tenth, 18:19.48).

Coronado’s girls made it a T-Bird sweep winning the meet with 29 points. El Paso High was second with 35 points and Eastlake was third with 66.

Coronado sophomore Kyra Walker, a state qualifier last fall, won her second career varsity race in the 20:52.12. In all, the T-Birds had five runners in the top 10 including Alexa Lawrence (third, 21:32.18), Banah Abdeljaber (sixth, 21:44.99), Eva Asfahani (ninth, 22:11.31) and Christina Duncan (tenth, 22:12.39).

Other top 10 finishers were Eastlake’s Megan Kirtley (second, 21:13.25) and four El Paso High runners in 4-8 – Shayla Cohen Jones (21:34.19), Alissa Kennedy (21:42.13), Andrea Castillo (21:48.74) and Jezarae Valenzuela (22:00.39).

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Clint ISD Invitational (Mt. View High School)

Pebble Hills sophomore Omer Ibrahim won his first varsity meet completing the hilly, dusty, desert course in 19:33.04. Horizon’s Ivan Hernandez was second in 20:08.24.

Pebble Hills sophomore Omer Ibrahim won his first varsity meet completing the hilly, dusty, desert course Mt. View High School in 19:33.04.

Franklin won the team championship with 25 points followed by Pebble Hills (59), Horizon (59), Clint (112) and Valle Verde (129).

The Cougars place five in the top 10 led by Octavio Trujillo (20:15.62) and Diego Flores (20:29.03) who finished third and fourth. Three other Franklin runners finished 6-8 – Rai Lopez (21:18.53), Matthew Engle (21:40.94) and Austen Percifull (21:46.42).

Rounding out the top 10 were El Dorado’s Venancio Claderon (fifth, 21:02.55), El Dorado’s Aden Hodgson (ninth, 21:51.85) and Joshua Gonzalez from Mt. View who finished tenth in 21:58.98.

It was a perfect score of 15 for the Franklin girls who placed seven runners in the top 10. Pebble Hills was second with 70 points followed by Clint (76) and Horizon (83).                     

Eva Jess won her third meet and remains unbeaten in El Paso since her freshman year. She won in 21:50.18 followed by teammates Ally Little (second, 22:09.02), Sofia Camacho (third, 24:02.02), .Jenna Saunders (fourth, 24:23.74), Michele Paillard (fifth, 24:28.43),  Alyssa Laspada (sixth, 25:02.65) and 8, Sarah Villaronga (eighth, 25:33.84).

Horizon had two runners -Andrea Villagomez (seventh, 25:22.37) and Iris Baca (tenth,  25:56.46 – in the top 10 and Clint’s Vivian Zapata was ninth in 25:45.52.

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Parkland/Hanks Invitational (Northeast Regional Park)

Chapin’s Joaquin Ortega won his second varsity invitational of the season, racing to a time of 16:03.17, almost a full 27 seconds faster than runner-up Andrew Valdiviezo from Riverside (16:30.54).

Chapin’s Joaquin Ortega.

David Herrera was third in 16:36.13 to pace Burges to a team victory with 32 points. Hanks was second with 40 points, Riverside third (56) and Parkland was fourth (73).

Including Herrera, the Mustangs had four runners in the top 10 – Dylan Walker (eighth, 16:53.31), Julian Maldonado (ninth, 16:56.77) and David Gonzalez (tenth, 17:15.18).

Top runners for the Knights were Andrew Alvarado (fourth, 16:36.48) and Alejandro Tarin (sixth, 16:46.21).

Parkland’s Kenneth Lamar Golston was fifth in 16:45.92 and Canutillo’s Denovan Estrada was seventh in 16:48.50.

Parkland’s Angelina Lujan-Marrufo won her third championship in as many weeks finishing 19:12.42 but it was the Canutillo girls who surprised the field in winning the team title with 41 points.

Jefferson was second with 49 followed by Hanks (55), Riverside (98), Parkland (103) and Young Women’s Leadership Academy (120).

Canutillo had three runners in the top 10 including runner-up Chondra Espino (20:36.59), Natalie Rivera (fifth, 21:21.31) and Ivy Lara (tenth, 21:48.57).

Jefferson’s top three were Monique Correa (third, 20:42.30),  Jelia Lugo (sixth, 21:21.75) and Crystal Peterson (seventh, 21:35.22).

Hanks runner Mia Rivera (20:57.46) was fourth and Madison Spencer was ninth in 21:46.97.

Burges’ Emilee Antimo was eighth in 21:39.54.

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