XC season begins this weekend; Pre-season top 10 revealed

The 2019 cross country season opens this weekend with two meets – one on Friday night and the other on Saturday morning.

The 2019 cross country season begins in El Paso this weekend with Montwood’s Race to Midnight Invitational starting at 11:20 p.m. Friday at Socorro’s Student Activities Complex and Clint ISD’s Mountain View Freedom Run at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Runners from all levels – freshman, junior varsity and varsity – will compete in Montwood’s late-night event. Start times are based on the runner’s 3-mile times with the idea that all runners will finish the race before midnight. It is the second year of the race.

Teams participating are Eastwood, Hanks, Coronado, Austin, Jefferson, Fabens, Irvin, Burges, Tornillo, Bowie, Valle Verde Early College, Bel Air, Montwood, Eastlake, El Dorado, Americas, Cathedral, Del Valle, Bel Air and Cathedral.

About 480 runners – 268 male and 212 female – are expected to race.

The top runners to watch are Coronado seniors Nick Gonzalez and Alan Alba, Hanks senior Rodger Rivera, Tornillo senior Ofir Ortega and Americas senior Jacob Ye.

The top runners to watch for the girls are Americas seniors Daphne Duran and Priscilla Villalobos, Morayama Montes from Austin, Sophia Flores from Coronado and Jefferson sophomore Monique Correa.

On Saturday, Mountain View will host the Freedom Run, a 2.7 mile single loop trail in the Far East desert at 8 a.m.

Clint, Mountain View, Horizon, Riverside, Franklin, Canutillo, Chapin, EPHS, Ft Hancock, LPI, YWLA, Parkland, Pebble Hills, Loretto, Andress, Parkland. San Elizario and Ysleta are scheduled to race.

Franklin junior Eva Jess ranks No. 15 in the state according to Texas MileSplit. She is working towards her third straight trip to the Class 6A UIL State Championship. She will race in Saturday’s Mt. View Freedom Run.

Franklin junior Eva Jess, who enters the season ranked No. 15 in the state by Texas MileSplit makes her debut as well as San Elizario junior Edwin Gomez who was the Class 4A state individual runner-up and who starts the season ranked No. 7 in the state by Texas MileSplit.

Here is the pre-season Top 10


 1, Eastwood: The Troopers won the Class 5A state championship last year, scoring 62 points, 25 points ahead of Austin Johnson. Eastwood placed four runners in the top 25 including junior Sergio Leon Cuartas (11th, 15:29.82) seniors Juan Olmos (12th, 15:33.69) and Elias Perez (21st, 5:47.13.). Eastwood begins its quest to defend its state championship at Montwood’s Race to Midnight Invitational at the Socorro Student Activities Complex at 11 p.m. Friday.

2, Americas:  The Trailblazers placed 15th at their first UIL Class 6A State Championship last year. Jacob Ye, who is now a senior, led Americas placing 27th in 15:47.33.  Sophomore Jared Laverty, is the No. 2 ranked top returning 5K runner in the Class of 2022. He was 62nd at the state meet (16:04.26). With the return of senior Seth Andrade, junior Gage Garcia and sophomore Carmelo Corral, Americas seems destined to repeat as District 1-6A champions and a possible return to the state meet. Americas will run at the Race to Midnight Invitational.

3, San Elizario: The Eagles earned a bronze medal at the Class 4A State Championship last year. Edwin Gomez was the state individual runner-up finishing in 15:07.63. The junior star starts the season ranked No. 7 in the state by Texas Milesplit. With a bulk of its team back – seniors Rene Arambula and Seth Rodriguez, sophomore Irvin Vazquez, junior Dilan Sanchez, the Eagles will take shot at an another state championship. They will compete in Mt. View’s Freedom Run at 8 a.m. Saturday.

4, Hanks: Seniors Michael Abeyta and Rodger Rivera earned All State honors in the Class 5A State championship last fall – Abeyta was fifth in 15:15.72 and Rivera was eighth in 15:20.56. Texas Milesplit has Abeyta ranked No 8 in the state and Rivera at No. 14. Rivera will race in Friday’s Race to Midnight Invitational.

Hanks senior Rodger Rivera will race in Montwood’s Race to Midnight Invitational starting at 11:20 p.m. Friday at Socorro’s Student Activities Complex. Rivera is one of the top returning runners in Texas. (Photo courtesy of Texas MileSplit)

5, Coronado: Senior Nick Gonzalez, a four-year letterman, ran a season best 15:12.10 at the Region 1-6A Championship at Mae Simmons where he finished 10th in the Region of Doom. He finished 21st at the UIL State Meet in 15:29.16. Classmate Alan Alba was a 25 runner in El Paso last season and should provide a powerful 1-2 punch for the T-Birds. Coronado will take part in Friday’s Race to Midnight Invitational at the SAC.

6, Tornillo: Look for Tornillo to have a strong year as they return four of its top runners from a team that finished seventh in the Class 3A State Championship in 2018. Tornillo’s top runner, senior Ofir Ortega, was 15th at the state meet. Other returning runners are juniors Bryan Garcia and Michael Maney and sophomore Bryan Guzman.

7, Eastlake: Sophomore Israel David’s 16:09.56 at the UIL State Cross Country Meet is the state’s 5th fastest for a freshman last year. He looks to improve on his 43rd place finish at state. Eastlake finished second at the District 2-5A meet last year.

8, Franklin:  Senior Daniel Kennedy will lead the Cougars this season. Kennedy had an 11th place finish at last year’s District 1-6A championship. Junior Andrew Cordero and senior Jonah Van Orman will also be heavily counted on.

9, Burges: Senior Noah Yeager was a top three runner for the Mustangs who hope to return to the Class 5A State Championship where the team placed 15th last year. The team might struggle early but coach Alex Smith will have the team in contention for another run for regionals by the end of the season.

10, Montwood:  Could this be the year the Rams make a run for a spot to regionals? It very well could be with the return of junior Trenton Nelson and Ruben Gonzalez.

Dropped out: None.
On the verge: Socorro, Chapin.

Expect another exciting season of girl’s cross country this season. A number of last year’s top teams and individuals are looking toward the UIL state championship.


 1, Eastwood: The Troopers placed 11th at the Class 5A UIIL State Championship last year and return a bulk of that team. Sophomore Lauren Walls placed 25th at state (19:25.55) will lead the way with seniors Meadow Ortiz, Eileen McLain and Destiny Martinez not far behind. Sophmore Adalia Olmos provides Eastwood with a solid five runner.

2, Americas: The Trailblazers, which finished 11th at the Region 1-6A Championship, are refocused and determined to win a District 1-6A crown. The team is deep with seniors Daphne Duran (All-District, 2016, 2017, 2018) and Priscilla Villalobos, (All-District, 2016, 2018) and junior Lauren Anderson (All-District, 2018) leading the way. Senior Mariana Guzman was injured the past two cross country seasons, however, she set Americas School Records in the 3200 meters (11:10), and the 1600 meters (5:11), during the 2019 outdoor track season. Expect big things to happen with the special group.

Americas senior Daphne Duran leads a deep Trailblazers team into what hopes to be a promising season. Duran and her teammates will get the season started at Montwood’s Race to Midnight.

3, Franklin: The Cougars are looking to defend their District 1-6A title and make another run to regionals. Junior Eva Jess returns after placing 14th at the 2018 state meet where she finished 14th in 17:40.36. Texas Milesplit ranks Jess at No. 15 in the state. Big things are expected from sophomore Jenna Saunders and senior Lorien Clark and sophomore Jordan Torres who are more than capable.

4, Jefferson: The Foxes finished last season fifth at the Region 1-5A meet. The team will be led by sophomore Crystal Peterson who was a state qualifier (43rd in 19:21.03).  Jefferson is solid with sophomore Monique Correa and seniors Karen Garcia, Ivette Rojas and Melody Tsutsumi.

 5, Coronado: Senior Sophia Flores is the T-Birds top returning runner from last year’s Region 1-6A team. Flores could very well have a breakout season and lead Coronado back to the regional.  Seniors Sofia Fodor and Sydney Puente as well as junior Veronica Lopez will contribute greatly to the season’s success.

6, Socorro: The Bulldogs will be led by All District 1-6A and Region 1-6A qualifier senior Jazmin Chacon. In order for the Bulldogs to earn a regional berth as a team in one of the toughest district’s in Texas, senior Janeth Chacon and sophomore Ana Rojas must gobble up as many points as possible.

7, Eastlake: Eastlake is in the mist of a rebuild with the loss of Aeriel Garcia and Amaris. Sophomore Ruby Medina, Deserie Herrera,  Giselle Rubio and Emily Hernandez provide the Falcons with a bright future.

 8, Horizon: The Scorpions return seniors Destiny Beltran and sophomore Andrea Villagomez to a team that qualified to the Region 1-5A championship. Look for Horizon to challenge for another shot at regionals.

9, Del Valle: The Conquistadores are building for the future. Sophomores Anisa Sanchez, Disany Sandoval have a year experience at the varsity level which should payoff this season. Katelyn Robles provides senior leadership.

10, San Elizario: The Eagles finished last season placing in 13th place at the Region 1-4A meet. They return all their team including top runners juniors America Morales and Emily Guerrero. Senior Natalia Perez, junior Karina Gallegos and senior Yajary Quiroz will look to defend their District 1-4A championship.

Dropped out: None.

On the brink: Hanks, Burges.

High School Girls XC Poll: Week 5

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

The system is as follows: In a race of less than 150 runners, first place gets 10 points, second gets 9 points all the way down to and 10th place which gets 1 point. For meets with between 150 to 300 runners, double points will be rewarded meaning 20 points for first, 19 for second all the way down to 1 point for 20th. For every additional 150 runners, another 10 runners will be included in the points.

For those who like raw times, we also list the Top 25 boys and girls race times and the meets and dates that they occurred.

For questions, videos and photos email vrmart66@gmail.com.

The Bel Air girls crack the El Paso Running Top 10 for the first time this season. They Highlanders placed fourth at Skyline Park.

1. Eastwood:The Troopers rested last week. They will race at the 38thWoodbridge Cross Country Classic in Irvine, Calif. Eastwood will compete in the Girls Varsity Rated Race at 9 p.m. Saturday.

2. Franklin:The Cougars won its third championship of the season, taking the Chapin Invitational at Skyline Park with 34 points, 14 points in front of Americas. Franklin runners finished 1-2-8-11 and 12. Eva Jess took individual honors finishing the partly desert course in 19:15.11. Amalia Dorion was third in 20:58.52.  Franklin will run the Hanks/Ysleta Invitational at Northeast Regional Park on Saturday.

3. Americas:The Trailblazers placed second at Skyline Park with 48 points. Daphne Duran again led the way finishing fourth in 21:00.14. Priscilla Villalobos was fifth 21:05.44 and Lauren Anderson was sixth in 21:12.85.  The Trailblazers will not race this week.

4. Eastlake: Eastlake did not race. They are expected to race at the Northeast Regional Park.

5. Coronado: The T-Birds ran at the Southlake Carroll Meet where senior Jennelle Jaeger-Darakjy placed 11thout of 163 runners in 19:37.  Coronado will compete at Northeast Regional Park on Saturday.

6. Montwood: The Rams did not race on Saturday. They will compete at the Loretto/Cathedral Invitational at Veterans Park.

7. Socorro:The Bulldogs move up three spots after its third place finish at Skyline Park with 66 points.  Jazmin Chacon paced Socorro finishing seventh in 21:18.41. The team will travel to Arvada, Colorado to race in the Arvada West Invitational.

8. Horizon:The Scorpions did not race on Saturday. The team is scheduled to run at Veterans Park on Saturday.

9. Clint:The Lions did not run a full team last week. They will run at Veterans Park.

10. Bel Air:The Highlanders make its Top 10 debut after its fourth place finish at Skyline Park. Bel Air’s top five finished 16-18-19-27-28 for 108 points. Bel Air take a week off before returning to action Sept. 22 at the Franklin Invitational at the Haskins Recreation Center.

Dropped out: Hanks.

On the brink: None.

Americas junior Daphne Duran has been the lead runner for most of the season for the Trailblazers. She has the city’s fourth fastest time, clocking a 19:07.87 at the Race to Midnight Invitational at Socorro’s Student Activities Center.

Top 25 Times

1, Aeriel Garcia, Eastlake, 18:18.45 (Race to Midnight, SAC, 8/17).

2, Eva Jess, Franklin, 18:44.37 (Del Valle, 9/21).

3, Mariana Guzman, Americas, 19:06.79 (Race to Midnight, SAC, 8/17).

4, Daphne Duran, Americas, 19:07.87 (Race to Midnight, SAC, 8/17).

5, Priscilla Villalobos, Americas, 19:08.71 (Race to Midnight, SAC, 8/17).

6, Amaris Chavez, Eastlake, 19:20.34 (Race to Midnight, SAC, 8/17).

7, Amalia Dorion, Franklin, 19:29.21 (Canutilllo Invite, 8/25).

8, Jennelle Jaeger-Darakjy, Coronado, 19:37.00 (Southlake, 9/8).

9, Lauren Walls, Eastwood, 19:42.68 (Canutillo Invite, 8/25).

10, Karyme Garcia, Montwood, 19:54.27 (Race to Midnight, SAC, 8/17).

11, Eileen McLain, Eastwood, 19:56.74 (Canutillo Invite, 8/25).

12, Lauren Anderson, Americas 20:07.55 (Race to Midnight, SAC, 8/17).

13, Meadow Ortiz, Eastwood, 20:09.16 (Canutillo Invite, 8/25).

14, Morayma Montes, Austin, 20:15.24 (Race to Midnight, SAC, 8/17).

15, Deserie Herrera, Eastlake, 20:21.12 (Race to Midnight, SAC, 8/17).

16, Diane Mena, Montwood, 20:26.84 (Race to Midnight, SAC, 8/17).

17, Skyler Goodman, Chapin, 20:28.66 (Canutillo Invite, 8/25).

18, Ruby Medina, Eastlake, 20:33.11 (Race to Midnight, SAC, 8/17).

19, Stephanie Gastelum, Eastlake, 20:22.11 (Race to Midnight, SAC, 8/17).

20, Caitlin Martinez, Eastlake, 20:40.10 (Race to Midnight, SAC, 8/17).

21, Giselle Rubio, Eastlake, 20:40.30 (Race to Midnight, SAC, 8/17).

22, Victoria Duran, Americas, 20:56.82 (Race to Midnight, SAC, 8/17).

23, Kenia Enriquez, Horizon, 20:59.37 (Del Valle, 9/1).

24, Britney Martinez, Loretto, 21:00.34 (Canutillo Invite, 8/25).

25, Rosemary Torres, Bel Air, 21:01.89 (Race to Midnight, SAC, 8/17).

There are two major cross country meets in El Paso on Saturday – the Hanks/Ysleta Invitational at Northeast Regional Park and the Loretto/Cathedral Invitational at Veterans Park. Both start at 8 a.m.

Power rankings
(number in parenthesis indicate meets won):

1, Eva Jess, Franklin, 40 (4).

2, Amalia Dorion, Franklin, 31.

3, Angeline Lujan, Parkland, 29 (2).

4, Jennelle Jaeger-Darakjy, Coronado, 27.

4, Aeriel Garcia, Eastlake, 27 (1).

6, Daphne Duran, Americas, 26.

7, Skyler Goodman, Chapin, 20.

8, Marisol Hernandez, El Paso, 16.

9, Morayma Montes, Austin, 15.

9. Lauren Walls, Eastwood, 15.

9, Natalie Jimenez, Burges, 15.

9, Priscilla Villalobos, Americas, 15.


Lauren Anderson, Americas, 14.

Nicole Estrada, Mt. View, 14.

America Morales, San Elizario, 14.

Eileen McLain, Eastwood, 12.

Jazmin Chacon, Socorro, 10 (1)

Kenia Enriquez, Horizon, 10.

Amaris Chavez, Eastlake, 10.

Janeth Chacon, Socorro, 10.

Deserie Herrera, Eastlake, 10.

Vivian Zapata, Clint, 10.

Mariana Guzman, Americas, 9.

Britney Martinez, Loretto, 9.

Meadow Ortiz, Eastwood, 9.

Marcela Perches, Loretto, 6.

Jocelyn Castro, Fabens, 6.

Emilia Fontes, Socorro, 5.

Brisa Aguilar, Clint, 5.

Karyme Garcia, Montwood, 5.

Sophia Flores, Coronado, 5.

Katelyn Robles, Del Valle, 5.

Ivette Rojas, Jefferson, 5.

Evonna Walker, Burges, 5.

Rosalinda Reza, Mt. View, 4.

Destiny Beltran, Horizon, 4.

Adalia Olmos, Eastwood, 4.

Ana Rojas, Socorro, 4.

Demi Garcia, Socorro, 3.

Jacqueline Castillo, Clint, 3.

Valerie Gonzalez, Pebble Hills, 2.

Natalia Perez, San Elizario, 2.

Amaryllis Rubalcaba, Eastwood, 2.

Diane Mena, Montwood, 1.

Karen Garcia, Jefferson, 1.

Lynette Rocha, Clint, 1.

Amaya Foran, Andress, 1.

Destiney Martinez, Eastwood, 1.

Natalia Espinosa, Montwood, 1.

Paulina Friare, Hanks, 1.

Desiree Carrillo, Eastwood, 1.

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.