The Best Cross Country Runners In El Paso Set Tone For XC

Eastwood Coach Mike McLain talks El Paso running and birth of the race.

By El Paso Metro Suhail Boureslan

Last night's race was nothing short of entertaining! At the Parra Law Eastwood Community Road Race we were treated to some amazing and friendly competition with some of the city's top athletes. El Paso was hit pretty hard with rain that flooded the streets but as the time drew near for the race to start the skies calmed as well as temperatures cooling down. That helped set up a perfect environment for the race. The energy that surrounded the starting line was filled with laughter, positivity, and determination all at once. Coaches were sharing their excitement with their athletes as they warmed up and parents stood by on the side lines eager to see their kids compete.

As soon as the race started it was a battle for position as we had the top high school runners battling it out with some collegiate runners who also entered the race. We had 2 former El Paso Eastwood runners in Daniel Bernal, who is now running for Furman University and Gabriel Armijo who is going to run under the Houston Cougar banner. We also had 2 former El Paso Franklin runners in Adam Cortez and Anthony Cordero who are both running for Southeastern Louisiana University. So there was no shortage of competition at the front of the group.

Furman's Daniel Bernal crosses the finish line coming in first.

Once they hit the mile mark there were two battles going on. One with collegiate runners and another with the city's top high school athletes. They were both tight knit packs that were moving pretty quick. As both groups crossed the 1 lap mark which was exactly 1.5 miles, you could see how good of shape these runners were in. After almost a full summer's worth of training you could see it starting to pay off as you could see them change gears and really turn it up the second lap of the race. By this time, the sun has already gone down and in the distance all you can see are the silhouettes of each runner as they pass by the lights that are lit up all across the course. The second lap was very much like the first except you could really see how much of a role the wet grass played on slowing down the course. However, you wouldn't be able to tell by the looks on the faces of each runner as they entered the finishing shoot. As the runners crossed the finish line they were greeted by one of El Paso's many fun attractions the "Blue Bots." Daniel Bernal dashed across the finish to claim the first place prize with a time of 16:04.22 followed closely by Adam Cortez at 16:05.65. Third and fourth place belonged to Anthony Cordero and Gabriel Armijo both with respectable times for a slower course.

Eastwood's Juan Olmos crosses the finish line first for the high school athletes.

The real story is who dominated the high school scene. It shouldn't be a surprise with Eastwood's top 5 Varsity runners all coming in first. Eastwood's Juan Olmos claimed their teams first spot with a time of 16:22.91. Elias Perez, Kayn Quinones, Eduardo Gallegos, and Sergio Cuartas not too far behind. They averaged a time of 16:31 for a legit 5k compared to last year's road race where they had an average of 16:46. That year they saw great success with their top 2 leaders in Anthony Molina and Gabriel Armijo leading their team to a 3rd place finish at the 6A State Cross Country meet. Now Eastwood is moving down to 5A and even after losing their top 2 runners there seems to be no signs of slowing down in West Texas. We were also able to catch up with Juan Olmos and talk about his race and the upcoming season. See what he had to say here.

Tornillo's top boys runner Ofir Ortega dashes past the finish line.

News flash, the greater El Paso area has more of the state's top runner and programs besides Eastwood! Behind Eastwood's boys were some of 3A's top runners who are from Tornillo High School. Ofir Ortega and Eduardo Carrillo who both showed they are ready to come back for that State Championship! After finishing 2nd place the last two years in the 3A State Championship Meet, Tornillo is determined to show why they deserve the top spot. Ortega finished 6th out of the high school boys with a time of 16:45.10. Carrillo was about 15 seconds behind which shows that their top 2 runners are ready to lead their team to a very much desired State Championship. We were also able to catch up with Ofir Ortega after the race, see what he had to say here.

Tornillo's Eduardo Carrillo stays strong as he chases down the front pack.

San Elizario's Seth Rodruiguez shows he can push his team and be a leader.

While we were excited to also see some of the talent out of the UIL 4A powerhouse El Paso's San Elizario, we were hit with the news that their top two runners are currently out with injuries. Injuries are never fun, but unfortunately are a part of the sport of running and the team at MileSplit wishes them a speedy recovery! Not everything out of the team was negative as we saw one of their upcoming runners in Seth Rodriguez step up and run a great race! He finished with a time of 17:18.91 showing he has the heart and focus to really keep his team aligned for another successful run at the State title. He showed real determination and I predict he can really help fill in some holes on the team to help them continue their success that the state of Texas has seen in the past. With Coach Morales and his staff pushing the buttons, it would be wise not to count them out just yet!

Eastwood's Eileen McLain runs passed the Blue Bots to be the high school's first girl to finish.

While the Big Three put on a good show we were also fortunate to see some other notable stand outs from El Paso's Franklin and Bel-Air High School. Some notable performances included Eastwood's #1 girl Eileen McLain who finished with a time of 20:20.26 and Karyme Garcia from El Paso Montwood who finished with a time of 22:10.25.

Montwood's Karyme  Garcia shows her toughness as she crosses the finish.

Every year this race is growing in popularity and now we at MileSplit are lucky enough to catch all the action. We anticipate that each year more and more athletes will become involved in the race and we will be here to catch it! It's definitely a must see race as you won't find another race with as good of scenery and attractions that make for a unique and fun race. Now that we were able to get a taste of what's to come this upcoming Cross Country season, we are eagerly waiting. So stay tuned as there's more coverage to come from MileSplit!