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

What’s Next

What: UIL Cross Country State Championship.

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

Who advanced?

Boys

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

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

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

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

Girls

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

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

Class 4A: Samantha Ramirez, San Elizario.

Class 3A: Tornillo.

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

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

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

Class 6A

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

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

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

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

McLain said there is room for improvement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three El Paso runners qualified for state as individuals.

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

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

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

Class 5A

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

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

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

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

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

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

Class 4A

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

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

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

 Morales knew the season would be difficult.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Class 3A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What: Region 1 Cross Country Championship.

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

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

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

Who advanced?

The following boy’s teams and runners have advanced:

Class 6A: Eastwood, Americas and Franklin. Also, Omer Ibrahim, Pebble Hills; Israel David, Eastlake; Luis Pastor, Coronado and Sam Breceda, Coronado.      

Class 5A: Burges, Horizon, El Paso High, Hanks, Chapin. Bel Air. Also, Michael Castorena, Parkland; Efren Moncada, Parkland; Isai Barajas, Ysleta; Venancio Calderon, El Dorado; Omar Rivera, Canutillo.

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

Class 3A: Tornillo.

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

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

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

The Region 1 Cross Country Championship begins on Monday.

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

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

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

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

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

Class 6A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Class 5A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Class 4A

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

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

Also competing are Riverside and Valle Verde Early College.

The Eagles are seeking its eighth straight trip to state.

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

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

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

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

Class 3A

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

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

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

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

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

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

What: Region 1 Cross Country Championship.

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

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

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

Who advanced?

The following girls teams and runners have advanced:

Class 6A: Franklin, Eastwood, Coronado. Also, Kassandra Jimenez, Montwood; Alexa Rangel, Montwood; Lexee Salas, Americas and Natalia Martinez, Pebble Hills.

Class 5A: Jefferson, Del Valle,Burges, Canutillo, El Paso High and Hanks. Also, Elizabeth Hernandez, Austin; Sarah Lopez Touchy, Ysleta; Jaylee Levario, Bel Air; Abigail Murillo, Bel Air.

Class 4A: San Elizario, Riverside and Young Women’s Leadership Academy. Also, Madelaine Estrada, Mt. View and Ileana Maldonado, Clint.

Class 3A: Tornillo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Class 6A

Franklin is looking for its third straight trip to state.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Class 5A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Class 4A

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

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

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

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

Class 3A

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

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

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

The team finished ninth in the region.

San Elizario defends Class 4A Crown; three teams and six individuals advance from 4A and 6A

What’s Next

What: UIL Cross Country State Championship.

When: Monday, Nov. 23 (3A, 5A) and Tuesday, Nov. 24 (4A and 6A) at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

Who advanced?

Boys

Class 6A: Eastwood. Also, Israel David, Eastlake; Jared Laverty and Michael Mier, Americas.

Class 5A: Josep Ferret, El Paso High; Alejandro Tarin, Hanks; Joaquin Ortega, Chapin.

Class 4A: San Elizario and Andrew Valdiviezo, Riverside.

Class 3A: Tornillo.

Girls

Class 6A: Franklin. Also, Lauren Walls-Portillo, Eastwood and Kassandra Jimenez, Montwood.

Class 5A: Pamela Ramirez, Burges and Monique Correa, Jefferson.

Class 3A: Kylene Elias, Tornillo.

San Elizario defended its Region 1-4A team title and are off to state!

Day two of the Region 1 Cross Country Championship at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock brought success to three teams and six individuals.

The teams – the San Elizario boys in Class 4A, the Eastwood boys in Class 6A and the Franklin girls in Class 6A – all earned return trips to the state meet.

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

The top three teams and top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the UIL Cross Country State Championship, Nov. 23 and Nov. 24 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

“This was a big day not just for our program but for everyone in our county, our region and our state who had the opportunity to run,” said San Elizario coach Cesar Morales. “Everyone had obstacles this season with virtual training, the threats of canceling the season and keeping all the athletes safe. It’s a great accomplishment even to get this far in the season. We are so grateful that we are able to compete.”

San Elizario won the Region 1-4A team title and the individual crown as senior Edwin Gomez took regional honors. Eastwood was runner up, by three points and the Franklin girls placed third in Class 6A.

San Elizario defended its Region 1-4A championship by placing two runners in the top 10 and three in the top 13 including Gomez regaining his individual crown out distancing 2019’s region champ Canyon’s Samuel Ashley.

Gomez finished the 3-mile course in 15:56.50 followed by Ashley (16:06.60), Perryton’s Adrian Ceniceros (16:28.30).

San Elizario scored 68 points followed by Perryton (73), and Andrews (114). Riverside finished seventh with 183 points.

Riverside’s Valdiviezo, who was fourth in 16:47.00, said reaching state is something he has been looking forward to.

“I felt really relieved once I crossed the finish line,” he said. “I felt like all my hard work had paid off.”

Valdiviezo said he was so nervous before the race he couldn’t eat breakfast.

“I used the nerves more to my advantage and I didn’t let them bring me down,” he said. “I knew what I had to do, I knew where I needed to be placement wise and who I should be keeping up with in order to qualify.”

San Elizario’s scoring runners were Gomez, senior Dilan Sanchez, (sixth, 17:00.60), sophomore Christopher Moreno, (13th, 17:17.10), junior Irvin Vazquez, (22nd, 17:36.20) and junior Alan Ceballos (31st, 17:50.60).

The Eagles have now won six of the past seven regional titles – its only blemish was a third-place finish in 2018.

“Winning six out of seven is very special,” Morales said. “But this is only part of the process. When we talk to the kids at the beginning of the season, we tell them this is just one of the steps we need to take before getting to state.”  

Eastwood’s boys finished three points away from its third straight Region 1 championship but advanced to the state meet. Lauren Walls-Portillo also qualified.

Class 6A

Eastwood’s boys finished three points away from its third straight Region 1 championship.

The Troopers won Class 5A regionals the past two seasons before leaping back to 6A this year.

Southlake Carroll won the Region of Doom with a low score of 61 points, followed by Eastwood (64) and Coppell (101). Americas was in the heartbreak fourth position with 109 points.

In non-pandemic years, Americas would have qualified for its third straight state championship meet.

Laverty was the low-point man for Americas finishing 14th in 16:24.70 followed by Mier (16th, 16:29.90). Both will return to state.

Also returning to the state meet is Eastlake’s David who was sixth in 16:10.60.

The Troopers had three runners in the top 10 – seniors Sergio Cuartas (fourth, 16:03.80), Aaron Perez (seventh, 16:03.80) and Nathan Hernandez (ninth, 16:17.50).

Eastwood’s two other scoring runners where senior Victor Parra (20th, 16:33.90) and junior Nick Parra (46th, 17:12.40).

Franklin’s girls finished third in Region 1-6A scoring 71 points.

The Cougars had two runners – seniors Eva Jess (fourth, 18:39.00) and Ally Little (fifth, 18:48.70) – in the top 10 and another in the top 20 – junior Jenna Saunders (16th, 19:53.50).

Sophomores Alyssa Laspada was 32nd in 20:21.50 and Michele Paillard was 33rd in 20:21.70.

Lewisville Flower Mound won the event with 44 points followed by Southlake Carroll with 52.

Walls-Portillo was sixth for Eastwood (19:00.10) and Montwood’s Jimenez was 19th in 19:58.60.

Franklin finished third in Region 1-6A and are returning to the state meet.

Day 1

On Monday, Tornillo’s boys finished third and sophomore Kylene Elias finished fourth in Class 3A, and five individuals from Class 5A advanced to the state meet.

Burges junior Pamela Ramirez, Jefferson junior Monique Correa, El Paso High senior Josep Ferret, Hanks sophomore Alejandro Tarin and Chapin senior Joaquin Ortega will also race on Day 1 of the State Championship on Monday, Nov. 23.

The advancing teams and individuals out of 4A and 6A will compete on Day 2 on Tuesday, Nov. 24.

No teams and runners from the girl’s Class 4A level qualified to state.

For complete results: from Day 1 – https://mychiptime.com/searchevent.php?id=13116

For completes from Day 2 – https://mychiptime.com/searchevent.php?id=13117

Tornillo boys and six individuals advance to state from Class 3A and 5A

The Tornillo boys escaped Region 1 with a third-place finish and a trip to the UIL State Cross Country Championship on Monday at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock.

The Coyotes placed two runners in the top 10 – freshman Daniel Romero (fourth, 17:35.90) and sophomore Angel Torres (seventh, 17:42.70).

Scoring for Tornillo where seniors Bryan Garcia (21st, 18:33.00) and Michael Maney (32nd, 19:07.00) and junior Bryan Guzman (60th, 19:58.70).

Tornillo finished with 88 points.

District rival Presidio won the region with 39 points and Tuscola Jim Ned was second with 84 points.

“We were kind of flat in district and then my four guy (Guzman) got hurt during quarantine and finished fifth, but I knew in my gut that we would face another obstacle at regionals,” said Tornillo coach Jesse Garcia. “But considering all the things we had to get through just to get here, I’m just happy we survived.”

Top three teams and top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the UIL Cross Country State Championship, Monday, Nov. 23 (3A, 5A) and Tuesday, Nov. 24 (4A and 6A) at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock

Tornillo was on the verge of shutting it down four weeks ago due to the pandemic.

“Our goal was to just qualify,” he said. “It was a little scary, but we came from behind and pulled through and managed to get third place.”

Tornillo will making its 11th state appearance in the past 12 years.

Also advancing to state is sophomore Kylene Elias who finished fourth on the two-mile course in 13:01.40.

“She said she didn’t feel good today; she just felt off,” Garcia said of the defending Region 1 champion. “She took fourth place and qualified and that’s what matters.”

Holliday junior Hannah Spears won the event in 12:29.10.

The Tornillo girls ended the season ninth best in Region 1.

On Monday, Class 3A and Class 5A raced. Tomorrow, the Class 4A girls will start at 10 a.m. followed by the boys and the Class 6A girl will race at 1 p.m. followed by the boys.

Burges junior Pamela Ramirez is state bound in Class 5A.

Class 5A

Five runners -three boys and two girls – out of Class 5A also advanced to theUIL Cross Country State Championship.

Burges junior Pamela Ramirez was 23rd in 21:22.10 and Jefferson junior Monique Correa was 27th  in 21:32.40 and advanced, as well as El Paso High senior Josep Ferret (15th, 17:22.50), Hanks sophomore Alejandro Tarin (16th, 17:23.30) and Chapin senior Joaquin Ortega (17th, 17:24.30).

No teams advanced.

The Jefferson girls were the top finishing El Paso team, placing sixth with 218 points followed by Bel Air (11th, 262) and El Paso High (12th, 314).

For the boys, Burges was the top El Paso team finishing seventh (223 points), Hanks (11th, 265), Bel Air (14th, 336) and El Paso High (15th, 378).

Hanks sophomore Alejandro Tarin finished 16th at the Region 1-5A meet in 17:23.30 and advanced to State.

Boys Region 1 Preview: Five teams hopeful for a return trip to state

What: Region 1 Cross Country Championship.

When: Monday, Nov. 9, Times (MST):  3A Girls, 10 a.m. 3A Boys, 10:30 a.m.;  Class 5A Girls, 1 p.m.; Class 5A Boys, 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10:  Class 4A Girls, 10 a.m.; Class 4A boys, 10:30 a.m.; Class 6A Girls, 1 p.m.; Class 6A Boys, 1:30 p.m.

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

At Stake: Top three teams and top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the UIL Cross Country State Championship, Monday, Nov. 23 (3A, 5A) and Tuesday, Nov. 24 (4A and 6A)  at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

Who advanced?

Class 6A: Eastwood and Americas. Also, Israel David, Eastlake and Luis Pastor, Coronado.

Class 5A: Burges, Hanks, Bel Air and El Paso High. Also, Joaquin Ortega, Chapin; Jarrett Ketchmark, Andress; Denovan Estrada, Canutillo; Ivan Hernandez, Horizon; Noah Gutierrez, Horizon; Miquel Avila, Del Valle and Kenneth Lamar Golston, Parkland.

Class 4A: San Elizario and Riverside. Also, Joshua Gonzalez, Mt. View.

Class 3A: Tornillo.

The race to state commences on Monday and Tuesday at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock.

For decades, El Paso’s boys have more than held their own at theRegion 1 Cross Country Championship.

Region 1, known as the Region of Doom because of the number of talented teams and individual runners, is the last stop before the UIL Cross Country State Championship Nov. 23-24.

The region is home to some of the top cross country programs in the state including Eastwood, Americas, Southlake Carroll, Flower Mound, Coppell and Lewisville Marcus.

Due to the pandemic, only the top three teams and top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the state championship at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

Last fall, six teams enjoyed the state experience – Americas’ boys and the Franklin girls in Class 6A, Eastwood and Hanks boys in Class 5A, San Elizario boys in Class 4A and Tornillo boys in Class 3A.

Fifteen individuals also advanced to the UIL State Cross Country Championship last year.

Of those six teams, Eastwood and San Elizario won Region 1 team titles.

Americas finished second in District 1-6A. The team is seeking its third consecutive state appearance.

Class 6A

Eastwood is seeking its fourth consecutive trip to state while Americas is looking for its third.

The Troopers are also racing for its fourth straight Region 1 championship, winning in Class 6A in 2017 and in Class 5A in 2018 and 2019.

Eastwood moved up to Class 6A this year.

“It’s no different than running in 5A,” said Eastwood coach Mike McLain. “Our goal every year is to schedule races where we’ll see the best teams possible which is why we go to Woodbridge (California) and Desert Twilight (Arizona). We want to run in these big races and compete at the highest level.”

He said even when the Troopers were at the 5A level, the team would compete against Texas powers such as South Lake Carroll, The Woodlands and Flower Mound.

“We would do well against those bigger schools at Nike regional and other national meets after the Texas state championships,” he said. “Racing in those big race environments helps our kids develop, and run with confidence. We know our region is tough and we’ll have to beat some good teams to qualify.”

Eastwood finished third at the Class 6A state meet in 2017 and won the Class 5A championship in 2018 and 2019 before moving back to Class 6A this season.

The team is lead seniors Sergio Leon Cuartas, Aaron Perez and Victor Parra and juniors Isaac Mendoza and Andres Gurrola (tenth, 16:27.3).

Americas top runners are juniors Carmelo Corral and Jared Laverty and senior Michael Mier.

Eastlake junior Israel David, who was fifth last year (14:59.10) in Class 5A, will race in the state’s biggest division this year.

“I know there are bigger schools in 6A and much better competition, and I’m prepared for that,” David said. “I always have to give it my best, no matter what. Going against these bigger schools motivates me. I always want to go up against the best, that’s what makes me better.”

Coronado sophomore Luis Pastor – who will be racing in his first regional – is the only other 6A runner competing.

Hanks junior Gael Alvarado was the seventh consecutive District 2-5A champion for the Knights. He looks to continue his winning ways at regionals.

Class 5A

Last year, Eastwood and Hanks took the top two spots out of the region while Burges finished seventh.

Of the four qualifying teams – Burges, Hanks, Bel Air and El Paso High – the Mustangs and the Knights have the best opportunity for an El Paso team to advance to state.

The Mustangs won its fourth consecutive District 1-5A championship, placing six runners in the 10 for 28 points.

Dylan Walker was second in 17:02.1, David Gonzalez was fifth (17:22.7), David Herrera was sixth (17:29.3) and juniors Aaron Gomez (seventh, 17:32.1) and Julian Maldonado (17:43.9) was eighth.

Hanks won its first District 2-5A title since 1995 and continued its streak of seven straight individual district champions as junior Gael Alvarado won the race in 16:49.0. Sophomore Alejandro Tarin and Alvarado have been swapping the low stick for the Knights all season with senior Michael Antuna being a steady third man.

Also watch for Chapin senior Joaquin Ortega, who won his first district championship racing the course in 16:50.4, who could advance individually.

“I’ve been able to finish in the top 10 in all my races this season, so hopefully that’s where I’ll end up at regionals and hopefully advance to state,” Ortega said. “Last year I missed going to state by two spots so that’s something I’m shooting for.”

Individual runners looking for a spot to state areAndress’ Jarrett Ketchmark, Canutillo’s Denovan Estrada, Ivan Hernandez and Noah Gutierrez from Horizon; Miquel Avila from Del Valle and Parkland’s Kenneth Lamar Golston.

Andress junior Jarrett Ketchmark was third in District 1-5A. He is one of several individual runners racing for a berth to state.

Class 4A

San Elizario is looking to defend its 2019 Region 1 championship.

The Eagles have won five of the past six regional titles – its only blemish was a third-place finish in 2018.

They are also seeking their seventh straight trip to state where the team has won championships in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. The team finished third in 2018 and second last year.

Edwin Gomez, who was second last year (14:53.50), is looking to unseat Canyon senior Samuel Ashley at regionals on Tuesday.

But his focus remains on the team.

“The team has worked really hard throughout the season,” he said. “Even though we had a lot of injuries, we continued to try our best and to be focused. We have a good team, and our goal is to win another state title.”

Mt. View senior Joshua Gonzalez is also looking to get back to Round Rock. Last year he finished 14th (16:09.50) at regionals.

Burges senior David Gonzalez hopes to help deliver the Mustangs another state berth in Class 5A.

Class 3A

Three points over two years separates Tornillo from being six-time defending Region 1-3A champions.

After winning four consecutive titles – the Coyotes missed out by two points in 2018 and by one point in 2019.

 After battling COVID-19 issues for the past month, Tornillo appears to be prepared to return the regional hardware bac to the Cotton Valley.

Tornillo will look to senior Bryan Garcia, junior Angel Torres and freshman Daniel Romero for leadership and another trip to state.

The Coyotes have made the trip to Round Rock ten times in 11 years.

Girls Region 1 Preview: Advancing to state has been a tall task for El Paso teams

What: Region 1 Cross Country Championship.

When: Monday, Nov. 9, Times (MST):  3A Girls, 10 a.m. 3A Boys, 10:30 a.m.;  Class 5A Girls, 1 p.m.; Class 5A Boys, 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10:  Class 4A Girls, 10 a.m.; Class 4A boys, 10:30 a.m.; Class 6A Girls, 1 p.m.; Class 6A Boys, 1:30 p.m.

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

At Stake: Top three teams and top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the UIL Cross Country State Championship, Monday, Nov. 23 (3A, 5A) and Tuesday, Nov. 24 (4A and 6A)  at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

Who advanced?

The following teams and runners have advanced:

Class 6A: Franklin and Montwood. Also, Lauren Walls-Portillo and Adalia Olmos, Eastwood and Kyra Walker, Coronado.

Class 5A: Jefferson, Bel Air, Canutillo, El Paso High. Also, Angie Marrufo-Lujan, Parkland,   Pamela Ramirez, Burges; Annette Guzman, Burges; Morayma Montes, Austin; Elizabeth Hernandez, Austin; Andrea Villagomez, Horizon and Mia Rivera, Hanks.

Class 4A: Clint and San Elizario. Also, Kayhla Talavera, Mt. View; Madelaine Estrada, Mt. View; Anel Aranda, Riverside; Marcela Hernandez, Riverside; Athena Escobar, Fabens.

Class 3A: Tornillo.

Hundreds of runners from across Region 1 will converge on Lubbock on Monday and Tuesday for regionals.

Regionals has not been friendly to girl’s teams from El Paso.

In the past few years only teams from Franklin and Eastwood have advanced to state.

And because of the pandemic, only the top three teams and top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team will advance to the state championship at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

Last fall, only Franklin’s girls advanced to state as a team in Class 6A and Eastwood accomplished that feat in 2018 in Class 5A.

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

Franklin and Montwood will race for an opportunity to advance to state as well as three individual runners from District 1-6A.

Class 6A

Franklin is looking to improve on its fourth place, state-qualifying performance of last year.

The Cougars ran 1-34-37-39 and 43 and eked out the last spot to state on the strength of its sixth runner – Amanda Sotelo – who finished ahead of the sixth runner from Lewisville Marcus to break the tie for fourth place.

Franklin senior Eva Jess won the individual title in 16:56.80.

“Advancing to regionals as a team is a special experience,” she said. “We all get to have a great time and support each other, it’s just a great experience.”

Jess said she hopes the team can advance to its second straight state championship meet.

“We are working so hard,” she said. “We believe that we can do it. We all have to run great races and we can do it. We can show everyone in the region how we run in El Paso. We’re ready, we just have to stay strong and keep up the training. Hopefully, we get to go. We never know when it will be our last meet so we always take the opportunity.”

Montwood, the District 2-5A runner up, is also looking to advance as a team.

Last year, senior Karyme Garcia advanced to state individually after finishing 15th (18:16.20) at regionals.

Also advancing are Eastwood juniors Lauren Walls-Portillo and Adalia Olmos and Coronado sophomore Kyra Walker.

Walls-Portillo was tenth at last year’s Class 5A regional, completing the course in 18:26.60, and advanced to state. Walker advanced to state after placing 22nd in 18:33.80.

Austin’s Morayma Montes and Elizabeth Hernandez will race in the Class 5A Region 1 Championship at 1 p.m. Monday.

Class 5A

It will be a tall task for an El Paso team to emerge from Class 5A so the focus should be on the individual times.

It’s not say Jefferson, Bel Air, Canutillo or El Paso High will not give it their all, it’s just that when you compare the depth of the teams with others in Region 1 such as Grapevine, Canyon Randall and Colleyville Heritage.

Jefferson junior Crystal Peterson is seeking her third trip to state after finishing seventh (18:17.70) at regionals last year.

“We really want to make it as a team,” said Peterson, who had the top finish for an El Paso runner in 5A at last year’s regionals. “It would mean a lot to go as a team and to get that regional experience.”

She said a number of Class 5A runners have the potential to advance to state.

“I really want to push myself to be able to get to state again and finish in the top 25,” she said.

Jefferson senior Melody Tsutsumi also qualified for state last year – finishing 23rd at regionals (19:07.60).

“I just squeezed in there,” she said.

Parkland senior Angie Marrufo-Lujan said she hopes to improve on her 19:57.30 (53rd place) time from last year.

“It has always been my dream to go to state for cross country,” Marrufo-Lujan said. “Every year, regionals kicks me in my butt, but I’m going to plan it out smarter, I’m going to be better prepared. Going to state would be a dream come true, especially my senior year. Fingers crossed that it happens.”

Other individual runners looking to advance are Pamela Ramirez and Annette Guzman from Burges, Morayma Montes and Elizabeth Hernandez from Austin, Andrea Villagomez from Horizon and Mia Rivera from Hanks.

Despite what happens at regionals, Bel Air coach Jerry Schaffer is proud of his girl’s efforts.

Bel Air’s Abigail Murillo finished third at the District 2-5A race in 20:43.9.

“The girls came out in the summer and worked hard,” Schaffer said. “The two seniors (Sara Armendariz and Rosemary Torres) have been together for four years. Abby (Abigail Murillo) came up a year behind them and they just love each other and they play off each other.”

It is believed to be Bel Air’s first district championship since 1982 and its first trip to regionals, as a team, since the 1997 or 1998.

Class 4A

Class 4A teams have not had much success at regionals.

San Elizario was 10th and Clint was 17th at last year’s regional. Both schools will represent the district at this year’s regionals.

District 1-4A champion senior Kayhla Talavera was fourth last year, completing the 2-mile course in 12:05.50 and advanced to state.

“I’m excited to run regionals again,” she said. “I think I can make it to state, but I’m going to say that I’m going to make it for sure. I’m going to shoot for the top 10, but if not, it’s OK, it’s been a good season, I got to run when I didn’t think we were going to have a season.”

Other runners looking to advance are Mt. View’s Madelaine Estrada, Anel Aranda and Marcela Hernandez from Riverside and Athena Escobar from Fabens.

Burges junior Annette Guzman finished 5th in the District 1-5A Championship.

Class 3A

Sophomore Kylene Elias was the first ever female runner from Tornillo to win the Region 1 Championship, racing the two-mile course in 11:57.60.

If you recall, she raced the majority of the race with only one shoe.

“I didn’t feel anything, not even the rocks, because it was so cold,” she said. “I felt my sock rip but it didn’t really rip, it was just so cold.”

She defended her District 4-3A crown last week and is looking to do the same at regionals.

“It was a hard race,” she said. “Hannah Spears (from Holliday) right behind me and she could have beaten me in the kick. It was a photo finish.”

Both girls ran an 11:57.60.

Elias went on to finish third at the State Championship.

“My team has trained hard and we’ve been doing pretty well,” she said. “I keep on motivating them so we can go to state this year as a team. I’m eager to go to regionals and hopefully to state.”