Americas sweeps Run to Midnight; Hanks, Eastlake earn individual titles

Starting Line Midnight Run
The 2018 cross country season began in El Paso Friday night when 268 runners from 10 schools raced at the Run to Midnight Invitational at Socorro’s Student Activities Complex.

The lights shined brightly over Socorro’s Student Athletic Complex Friday night.

But the athletes on the field were not wearing cleats or shoulder pads. They were geared with running bibs and running shoes as 268 athletes took part in the inaugural Run to Midnight hosted by Montwood High School. Many of the runners wore neon glow sticks around their necks or neon glow paint on their arms, legs and faces as they made their way twice around the stadium parking lot and into the stadium to complete the 3-mile August fun run.

That is, it was fun until the competitive juices took over and the fun quickly turned serious.

The Americas girl’s and boy’s teams definitely did not take this race lightly or as a training run.

The girls had runners finish in second (Mariana Guzman, 19:06.79), third (Daphne Duran, 19:07.87), fourth (Priscilla Villalobos, 19:08,71) and seventh (Lauren Anderson, 20:07.55) to win the meet with 30 points.

Eastlake was right there with 35 points including a first place finish by senior Aeriel Garcia (18:18.45) and a fifth place finish by Amaris Chavez (19:20.34).

Rounding out the top 10 were sixth place, Karyme Garcia, Montwood, 19:54.278; eighth place, Morayma Montes, Austin, 20:15.24; ninth place, Deserie Herrera, Eastlake, 20:21.12 and Diane Mena from Montwood in 10th place in 20:26.84.

For Garcia, winning the meet was a humbling experience.

“Not a lot of people know but I quit my club basketball team so I could focus on my running,” she said. “I figured this should be my number one priority because I’m better at this than I am at basketball.”

She said she has been training very hard this summer and is happy to see the benefits.

“I have my friend Amaris pushing me every day at practice reminding me to do things the right way all the time and that’s been really big help,” she said.

Mello Americas
Americas freshman Carmelo Corral lead the boys to a meet championship finishing third in 15:39.86.

The Americas boys were just as dominate placing five runners in the top 10 including freshman Carmelo Corral (third, 15:39:86); Alek Duran (fifth,16:01:90); Gage Garcia (sixth, 16:02:88); Tyler Rodriguez (seventh, 16:03:93) and Hector Sanchez (10th, 16:30:16).

Individually Hanks’ junior Roger Rivera won the race in 15:09:58 followed by Cathedral’s Brandon Seagraves (15:22:57). Other top 10 runners were Israel David, Eastlake (fourth, 15:50:12); Hector Rivera, Bel Air (eighth, 16:14:27) and Trenton Nelson, Montwood (ninth, 16:28:67).

Cathedral also had solid team performance, finishing second with 66 points followed by Eastlake at 99.

rivera hanks
Hank’s junior Roger Rivera won his first varsity race in 15:09:58 followed by Cathedral’s Brandon Seagraves (15:22:57).

Rivera came into the race not expecting too much out of the first meet of the season. Matter of fact he was aiming for a 15:30 on the 3-mile course.

“What really helped me is my teammate Michael (Abeyta) who always pushes me in practice,” Rivera said of two-time state cross country runner. “This really sets the tone for the season for me and my teammates. We’re going to have to continue to work hard to get where we want to be.”

Abeyta did not run in this race.

Here are the top 20 runners:


1, Roger Rivera, Hanks, 15:09:58; 2, Brandon Seagraves, Cathedral, 15:22:57; 3, Carmelo Corral, Americas, 15:39:86; 4, Israel David, Eastlake, 15:50:12; 5, Alek Duran, Americas, 16:01:90; 6, Gage Garcia, Americas, 16:02:88; 7, Tyler Rodriguez, Americas, 16:03:93; 8, Hector Rivera, Bel Air, 16:14:27; 9, Trenton Nelson, Montwood, 16:28:67; 10, Hector Sanchez, Americas, 16:30:16; 11, Fernando Anzures, Cathedral, 16:30:61; 12, Carlos Armendariz, Eastlake, 16:31:41; 13, Stephen Stresow, Cathedral, 16:35:06; 14, Seth Andrade, Americas, 16:38:73; 15, Andres Marquez, Eastwood, 16:38:86; 16, Jacob Ye, Americas, 16:40:65; 17, Nick Barajas, Americas, 16:44:11; 18, Adrian Morales, Irvin, 16:44:62; 19, Nicolas Maes, Cathedral, 16:45:47; 20,  Henry Aguirre, Americas, 16:46:64.

Team Results:

1, Americas, 31; 2, Cathedral, 66; 3, Eastlake, 99; 4, Eastwood, 121; 5, Irvin, 166; 6, Pebble Hills, 175; 7, Hanks, 178; 8, Montwood, 181; 9, Bel Air, 193; 10, Ysleta, 269.

For full results, click:



1, Aeriel Garcia, Eastlake, 18:18.45; 2, Mariana Guzman, Americas, 19:06.79; 3, Daphne Duran, Americas, 19:07.87; 4, Priscilla Villalobos, Americas, 19:08,71; 5, Amaris Chavez, Eastlake, 19:20.34; 6, Karyme Garcia, Montwood, 19:54.27; 7, Lauren Anderson, Americas 20:07.55; 8, Morayma Montes, Austin, 20:15.24; 9, Deserie Herrera, Eastlake, 20:21.12; 10,Diane Mena,Montwood, 20:26.84; 11, Ruby Medina, Eastlake, 20:33.11; 12, Stephanie Gastelum, Eastlake, 20:22.11; 13, Caitlin Martinez, Eastlake, 20:40.10; 14, Giselle Rubio, Eastlake, 20:40.30; 15, Victoria Duran, Americas, 20:56.82; 16, Rosemary Torres, Bel Air, 21:01.89; 17, Maya Ramirez, Americas, 21:06.55; 18, Itzel Garcia-Gama, Americas, 21:08.03; 19, Isabella Medina, Americas, 21:08.23; 20, Jackie Spencer, Hanks, 21:09.55.

Team Results:

1, Americas, 30; 2, Eastlake, 35; 3, Montwood, 100; 4, Bel Air, 120; 5, Hanks,131; 6, Eastwood, 169; 7, Pebble Hills, 170; 8, Ysleta, 237; 9, Irvin, 245.

For full results, click here:












Race to Midnight, Desert Run, highlight first weekend of cross country season

The San Elizario boys are going for their 5th consecutive Class 4A State Championship. Their chase for five begins Saturday on the desert course of Mt. View High School.

The El Paso high school cross country season begins with two distinct meets this weekend – Montwood’s Race to Midnight Invitational on Friday night and Mt. View’s Desert Run Challenge Saturday morning.

The Race to Midnight Invitational is two 1.5 mile loops around the Socorro Student Activities Complex’s football stadium and 800 meters around the track inside the stadium.

The runners will start at different times depending on their 5K time with the idea they enter the stadium as the clock ticks down to midnight.

The first wave of runners will start at 11:20 p.m., 11:30 p.m., 11:35 p.m., 11:40 p.m. and 11:44 p.m.

This is the first time this type of race has been attempted in El Paso.

Several of the city’s top boy’s teams will compete including Eastwood, Americas, Tornillo and Hanks.  On the girl’s side, Eastwood, Americas, Eastlake and Montwood are scheduled to race.

Runners to watch include: Hanks junior Michael Abeyta who finished second at the Region 1-5A Meet (14.44.80) and second at the Class 5A UIL State Championship (15.00.18), 2 seconds from a gold medal and Eastwood junior Elias Perez (11th at the Region 1-6A Meet and 27th at State).

On Saturday morning at 8 a.m. the Clint ISD will present the Desert Run Challenge at Mt. View High School.

The first year event is a 2.7 mile single loop trail in the far East El Paso desert

The challenging course consists of dirt, caliche, loose sand with numerous turns and one small hill. The course is marked with red flags approximately 20 meters apart. The starting and finish line are located at the practice football field, west of the stadium.

The varsity girls will race first at 8 a.m. followed by the varsity boys.

Top boy’s teams are San Elizario, the four-time Class 4A State Champion, Burges, Franklin and El Paso High. The top girl’s are Coronado,  Horizon, Chapin, Franklin,  El Paso High and San Elizario.

Runners to watch are Class 4A state champion San Elizario sophomore Edwin Gomez (15:36.16);  Coronado senior Liam Walsh who finished 7th at the Region 1-6A Meet in 15:11.36  and 31st at State in 15:44.03; Walsh’s classmate senior Jenelle Jaeger-Darakjy who was 9th at the Class 6A regional (17:44.17) and 22nd at State (18:25.22) and super sophomore Franklin’s Eva Jess (5th at State, 14:34.75; 5th at regionals, 17:17.03).



2018 Boys XC Preseason Top 10: Eastwood working towards return to state meet

The Eastwood boys are looking to make waves at the Class 5A state level. The Troopers, which placed 3rd at last year’s Class 6A state meet, will be challenged for the city’s top spot by Americas and Coronado

1. Eastwood: The Troopers had a special year in 2017, capturing a bronze medal at the Class 6A UIL State Cross Country Championship. Gone are its top two runners Anthony Molina (NMSU) and Gabe Armijo (Houston) but in steps a new crop of runners gunning for a state title in a different classification. Because of a drop in enrollment, Eastwood is now in Class 5A. However, expectations remain the same as juniors Elias Perez and Juan Olmos take the leadership roles. Seniors Kayn Quinones and Eddie Gallegos will look to fill the spots vacated by Armijo and Molina.

2. Americas: With Eastwood moving to Class 5A, the District 1-6A race should come down to the Trailblazers and Coronado. The Americas boys are seeking its first district title since 2005. Americas returns four of its top five runners including junior Jacob Ye, senior Tyler Rodriguez, junior Hector Sanchez and senior Alek Duran. The Trailblazers placed 6that the Region 1-6A Meet.

3. Coronado: But don’t be surprised if the T-Birds win it. Coronado’s top three – senior Liam Walsh and juniors Nick Gonzalez and Alan Alba – return. Senior Nicolas Kraynick and junior Dominic Lara round out a solid top five which finished 11that the Region 1-6A Meet.

Boys 1-6A Group
The Coronado boys will be in the thick of things for the city’s best and for a District 1-6A title.

4. San Elizario: A fifth straight state championship. That’s what the Eagles are aiming for this season. And why not? With all but two runners back, “one for the thumb” is a realistic goal. Individual state and regional champion sophomore Edwin Gomez returns along with All State runner junior Rene Arambula (5that state), juniors Antonio Diaz, Martin Pargas and Seth Rodriguez.

5. Burges: The Mustangs have quietly built a solid cross country program and with four seniors and two underclassmen returning from a Region 1-5A bronze medal team that finished 14that the state meet, there is no reason why Burges cannot be better. Seniors Sam Zambrano, Luis Cuevas, Alvaro Barroeta and Angel Ortiz will lead the charge along with junior Noah Yeager who finished 25that state.

6. Franklin: The Cougars will contend for a top three District 1-6A finish and advancement to the regional meet if they stay healthy. Top returnees include seniors Jacobo Wedemeyer and Milo Alvarado, junior Daniel Kennedy and sophomore Albert Mendez.

7. Tornillo: The Coyotes earned their second consecutive silver medal at the Class 3A UIL State Meet last season and return five of those runners including seniors Eduardo Carrillo, Heriberto Amaya and Tommy Montelongo. Junior Ofir Ortega and sophomore Bryan Garcia are expected to add depth. The Coyotes have won four straight district and Region 1-3A championships.

8. Hanks: Junior Michael Abeyta is the most talented runner in El Paso. He finished second at the Region 1-5A and the Class 5A State Meet behind Aledo’s junior runner Graydon Morris. Abeyta has lifted the Knights to a District 2-5A runner-up spot last year and an 8thplace regional finish. Fellow classmates Roger Rivera and Omar Munoz will need some help if the Knights will be able to return to regionals.

Michael Abeyta
Hanks junior Michael Abeyta hopes to lift the Knights to a trip to the Region 1-5A Meet. Abeyta is one of the state’s most talented distance runners.

9. Socorro: After a few down years, the Bulldogs hope to contend for a spot to the Region 1-6A Meet. The Bulldogs return its top five including seniors Sebastian Mendoza, Ivan Carrera and Isaias Hernandez, junior Christian Parra and sophomore Devin Cook.

10. El Paso: The Tigers are hungry and determined after just missing out on a trip to the Region 1-5A Championship. The young Tigers are a year more experienced and are eager to improve. Sophomore Josep Ferret and juniors Matthew Avila, Jacob Ontiveros and Benjamin Grajeda look to improve.

On the brink: Eastlake, Chapin.

2018 Girls XC Preseason Top 10: Eastwood looks to keep top spot


1. Eastwood: The Troopers return four runners from last year’s 6th place Region 1-6A team including its top runner junior Destiny Martinez who was 34th at regionals. Also returning are juniors Meadow Ortiz, Eileen McLain and Andrea Miramontes. Because of UIL reclassification, the defending District 1-6A champ will compete in District 2-5A.

2. Americas: The Trailblazers are the favorite in District 1-6A. The team is led by a strong junior class including Daphne Duran, Priscilla Villalobos, Victoria Duran and Mariana Guzman. Duran is the top returnee. She finished 25th at regionals last year. The team had a top ten finish at the Regional placing 7th.

3. Coronado: The T-Birds are primed to compete for a District 1-6A title with the return of Jenelle Darakjy for her senior year. Darakjy was 6th at the Region 1-6A race and 22nd at the state meet. A pair of juniors – Sophia Flores and Sydney Puentes – and senior Lilian Breceda are expected to give Americas a run for the district title.

Jennelle Jaeger-Darakjy
Jennelle Jaeger-Darakjy is hoping for a third straight trip to the Class 6A UIL State Cross Country Championship in November.

4. Eastlake: The Falcons have an opportunity to do something special with the addition of Horizon transfer senior Aeriel Garcia and the return of last year’s District 2-5A champion senior Amaris Chavez. Last year, Garcia finished second in District 2-5A and 10th at regionals to advance to the state meet for the second straight year. Eastlake was second at district and 12th at regionals.

5. Montwood: The young Rams are ready to contend for a top three District 1-6A spot and a trip to regionals. The upstart Rams will be led by sophomores Karyme Garcia (sixth at district) and Jocelyn Ponce. Juniors Diana Mena and Sarah Diaz should be much improved, as well. Garcia placed 25th at the Region 1-6A Meet.

6. Horizon: The Scorpions are the defending District 2-5A champion, a team that finished 9th at regionals. Junior Destiny Beltran will lead the relatively young team. Beltran was fourth in district last year and 35th at regionals. Sophomores Andrea Villagomez and Kenia Enriquez will be counted on to score as will junior Jessica Floriano and senior Jasmine Baltazer.

7. Chapin: The Huskies have great senior leadership in District 1-5A champion senior Skyler Goodman. Chapin was 13th at regionals. Goodman placed fourth at regionals and 31stat the state meet. Sophomore Angela Astorga and seniors Ysabelle Grubb and Siona Astorga are seeking solid seasons and a return to the regional meet.

8. Franklin: It all starts with all-everything Eva Jess. The sophomore star runner is the reigning District 1-6A champion, fifth place finisher at the region and state meets. Seniors Kimberly Melton, Natalie Linford and Amalia Dorion will need to up their game if the Cougars have a shot at a regional berth.

Eva Jess
Franklin’s Eva Jess looks to improve on last year’s successful freshman campaign.

9. El Paso High: The Tigers are the defending District 1-5A champion and with the core of that team returning, it looks likely they will contend for it again this year. Juniors Lucia Chavira and Marisol Hernandez will lead the charge to a return to regionals where the team finished 18th. Three sophomores – Vivian Shaheen, Alissa Kennedy and Camille Watts – round out the top 5.

10. San Elizario: The Eagles return five of its top runners from last season’s 7th place Region 1-4A team including its top runner junior Yajary Quiroz who finished 13that last year’s regional and 59th at the state meet. She joins classmate Natalia Perez and sophomores America Morales, Emily Guerrero and Desiree Lopez. Morales was placed 57th at state and 14th at regionals last year as a freshman.

On the brink: Socorro, Pebble Hills, Canutillo.

The Heart of a Champion

The pain and disappointment Cleo Naranjo felt two years ago in Albuquerque propelled the 12 year-year-old to a national championship in 2017.

This summer track season, the El Paso Panthers distance runner has her sights set on repeating her USATF National Junior Olympics Track and Field Championship in the 3,000 meter run.

The defense of that All American, national championship performance began June 2 at the 2nd Sara Bone Invitational where she placed first in the 1,500 in 5:09.93, she competed in the 13-14 age division

“I made it to regionals in Albuquerque two years ago,” she said. “At the hotel, I didn’t eat much but my stomach was hurting when the race started.”

During the 3,000 meter race – a smudge under two miles (1.86 miles to be exact) – she began to cramp.

“I was still running in the top five and the top five advance to nationals but it just got worse and worse,” she said, grimacing at the memory. “Towards the end of the race I started to feel really bad, Right then I knew my race was over, I was done.”

She ended up finishing last – dead last.

On that fateful day in July 2016, on the Milne Stadium track in Albuquerque, Naranjo discovered   her passion to run, to compete, to chase a national championship.

“From that day forward, she knew where she needed to be to compete at that level,” said Sergio Talavera, the El Paso Panthers coach. “From then on, she started training with a chip on her shoulder. She wanted it, it was in her heart and through her hard work and her parents support she made it happen.”

At last year’s USATF National Junior Olympics Track and Field Championships at the University of Kansas, she won the 3,000 meters national championship in a time of 10:44.08 and was All American in the 1,500 meters finishing 6th in 5:03.94.

Naranjo, a former soccer player, has been running for only three seasons.

“Two years ago, I wasn’t really sure if I was going to like it,” she said. “Running was a new thing for me so I didn’t know how to run or to pace myself.’

Talavera placed her in the sprints to start but she didn’t feel she could excel in those shorter distances.

“The first practice I had with distance was in the sand and that was really hard,” she said. “But considering it was my first time and it was in the sand coach said I did really good. He knew I was a distance runner right then and there.”

She loves putting in the miles.

“It’s fun,” she said. “I’ve gained a lot of experience running the 3,000 so I’m use to how to pace myself and what interval times I have to hit in order to be where I want to be at the end.”

Naranjo will race in the 800, 1,500 and 3,000 at this weekend’s 3rd Annual Panthers Track & Field Invitational at Mt. View High School.

The running events begin at 5 p.m. Friday and 7:15 a.m. Saturday.

Talavera said he knew Naranjo was special the first day of practice three years ago.

“I use her as an example as to what hard work and dedication to your sport will bring,” he said. “There are a lot of people, especially in El Paso, who don’t believe they can become a national champion.

“When other runners were finishing in the top three or top five, I would say, ‘there are only three or f20180606_201105our kids standing before you, what makes them any better?’ I tell them they are there in front because they are the ones with the bigger heart that’s what pushes them through it. That’s what makes them a champion and that’s what Cleo has, a heart of a champion. She is an athlete who knows what she wants.”

Naranjo is the first El Paso Panther athlete to win a national championship.

“I want to get back to nationals,” she said. “It was such a great experience. It’s been worth all the miles that I’ve put in.”

Border Association Season Kicks Off

Hundreds of athletes 6 to 18 years old competed in the 2nd Sara Bone Invitational Track Meet at Parkland High School June 2. It was the first meet of the USATF/Border Association season.

The next meet will be June 8-9 at Mt. View High School. The meet will be hosted by the El Paso Panthers Track Team. Here is the schedule:

Click here for results.

 For more photos of the Sara Bone Inviational: