Ace Castillo Overcomes Hurricane Harvey Effects to Qualify For NXN

Ace Castillo interviews at 2017 state meet

Ace Castillo is going to NXN! Because he is very talented, that may not be as suspenseful of a statement as it actually is, but trust me it wasn't easy.

The Corpus Christi Tuloso-Midway senior has been one of Texas' top distance runner for three years. Castillo finished second at the 2015 and 2016 UIL 5A state meets as a sophomore and junior.

With early success like that, the thought of an eventual state championship definitely has to enter an athlete's mind.

Castillo definitely entertained the thought of it. However, this year it just wasn't meant to be. The season started out unconventional for Castillo and others in the Corpus Christi area. In August, Hurricane Harvey came through the Gulf of Mexico and left historical damage to the Texas coastal region. 

While the rest of the state and the nation was going on with their regularly scheduled cross country seasons, the gulf region and all affected areas had real life things to deal with. Throughout the affected areas of the state, weeks of classes were cancelled. No school means no practice. Just because school was out, that doesn't mean kids were vacationing. Families were assessing damages and doing whatever elbow work was required to keep their lives in tact.

Ace Castillo crosses the finish line at this weekend's NSR South

For Castillo, practice was hard to come by and meet cancellations had become normal for a couple of weeks, "In Corpus, we were kind of limited to when and where we could run." Athletes in that area were still working on their fitness midway through the season.

"In Corpus, we were kind of limited to when and where we could run." 

Ace Castillo, Corpus Christi Tuloso-Midway senior

When the time came for the state meet, Castillo was just getting his legs under him. The pace at the state meet was too much for him to be able to come though with a state championship. The 5A race went out at a blistering pace as the first mile was at 4:40 and the two mile split was 9:04. "We went out really fast. I just tried to sustain that last mile, but 800-900m to go they started to pull away from me."

Castillo was able to grab the third place finish at the UIL 5A state meet. Although he was a little disappointed to finish his UIL career without the state XC title he was so looking forward to achieving, he said, "I can't complain about my last UIL state race, I'm finishing high on the podium."

Ace Castillo runs in the pack a mile into the NXR South Championship race

There is a bright side to the late start on the 2017 season. Although Castillo's fitness level was a little bit behind the other competitors at the state meet, his legs and his body overall felt good. "I do feel fresh, I do feel ready.  I'm looking forward to post state meet, I feel confident in my abilities to make it to a national meet."

This weekend, that freshness, confidence, and an extra two weeks of training paid off. Castillo was able to bounce back from Hurricane Harvey and not winning the 2017 state championship to place fourth at the NXR South. That earned him the opportunity to run for a national championship. Castillo could possibly go from not winning the state title to winning a national title.

Castillo has persevered for himself, his school, his team, and his community. Taking the hits of a national disaster can not be easy. The recovery process is even more lengthy and challenging, but Castillo and other hurricane affected athletes were still dedicated to their sport. Personally, Castillo was still able to earn and accept a scholarship offer to Rice University.

I'm looking forward to post state meet, I feel confident in my abilities to make it to a national meet."

Ace Castillo - Corpus Christi Tuloso-Midway senior

For the next few weeks, Castillo will spend them training. The weeks of preparation and training that he lost at the beginning of his senior season are now regained and will be used for preparation and training for the end of his senior season, at the Nike Cross Nationals. There he will wear a different but new uniform as he will represent the South team. He will also be representing for Texas, the Texas Gulf Coast, and Corpus Christi. More importantly, he will represent all of those who are in the recovery process from the effects of Hurricane Harvey.