El Paso Had Big Individual And Team Success At Region 1

We've seen some good years from teams in the Houston area. We have also seen some good years from teams in the San Antonio area. It seems we always see good years from DFW area cross country teams. Yes, there have been years that we have seen strong seasons from El Paso area teams, but on Monday, we saw something special.

Several El Paso area teams and athletes had a very good this past regional Monday. There were team champions, individual champions, as well as athletes and teams who took other qualifying spots.

Individual Champions And Qualifiers

The Tornillo boys are no strangers to winning the Region 1-3A team championship. Well, this year, they won the individual title -- technically, they won two individual titles. Senior Ofir Ortega won the boys championship with a time of 16:06. Ortega has had an awesome senior season guiding and leading his team to leaps and bounds of improvements all season long. On Monday, his team was second overall in the team standings, missing the win by one point, 85 > 84.

Tornillo freshman Kylene Elias also won the girls 3A regional championship. Elias is adding to Tornillo's tradition by paving the way on the girl's side. Like Ortega, her 2019 season has had several highs including Monday's big win.

The Region 4-6A girls is a tough region. That didn't stop Clint Mountain View runners Kayhla Talavera and Nicole Estrada toughed it out against the weather conditions and the competition. Talavera finished fourth and Estrada was 10th overall qualifying for the state meet. Junior Joshua Gonzalez qualified on the boys side. His 14th place finish makes it three Mountain View runners going to state together.

San Elizario Junior Edwin Gomez is accustomed to winning the region. This year, he is the runner-up, but once again, he individually qualified and helped lead his team back to the state meet. 

The 5A boys race was like the Clash of Titans. Several El Pasoans were in the mix fighting for an individual state title.

Hanks' super duo of Michael Abeyta and Roger Rivera were right there in the hunt for the individual title. On the extremely cold day for Texas, they were in a heated battle with Aledo senior Graydon Morris. They demonstrated a gutsy performance finishing second and third place over all and running 14:35 and 14:51 respectively.

Also, included in the ubber entertaining race and turning in sub 15:00 performances was was Eastwood's Elias Perez (14:57) and Eastlake's Israel David (14:59). Also qualifying for the state meet was Chapin senior Angel Contreras. Contreras dropped a gem of a race going 15:32 for 14th place.

The 5A girls had three runners qualify individually for state. Jefferson runners Crystal Peterson and Melody Tsuitsumi both qualified for state by being in the top 10 individuals not on qualifying teams. Eastwood's Lauren Walls also qualified individually with her 10th place finish.

The 6A boys saw El Pasoans cross the line early and often. Individually, Coronado's Nicholas Gonzalez was the fourth overall finisher in 14:58. He is joined by Franklin senior Fernando Morales who finished 20th overall to also be one of the top individual placers.

El Paso represented in the 6A girls race too. Individually, Franklin junior Eva Jess won the race pulling away from the lead pack in the last half of the race. Americas' Mariana Guzman continued her awesome season, her 13th place solidified her place at the state meet. She'll be joined by Montwood's Karyme Garcia and Coronado's Kyra Walker. Garcia was 15th overall and Walker was 21st, placing them both in the top 10 individual finishers.

Team Champions and Qualifiers

- 3A Boys Runners-up Tornillo - Missed the regional championship by one point
- 4A Boys Champions San Elizario - Won by four points 
- 5A Boys Champions Eastwood - Second consecutive regional title
- 5A Boys Runners-up Hanks - First trip to state in 30 years
- 6A Girls 4th place qualifiers Franklin - Tied for fourth but won tie breaker
- 6A Boys Runners-Up Americas - Finished 

State Meet Implications

What could that mean for the El Paso running community next weekend at the state meet?

How many of the El Paso teams win trophies? Can any of them win the state meet? Can any individuals win state? All of the teams can win a trophy. And a couple of them can win a title.


Ortega could win the 3A boys race. He is having a great senior season and is on one of the best running streaks in 3A.

In the boys 5A race, both Abeyta and Rivera could win. They ran close second and third place races to two-time UIL 5A state champion Graydon Morris on Monday. Abeyta is the 2017 runner-up behind Morris, and could be eyeing his first state title.

Jess has a very optimistic opportunity to win the 6A state title. Coming fresh off of the region title, the momentum she'll be riding could be enough to carry her. As a freshman, she finished in the top five and could very well top that performance next weekend.

This could be Tornillo's year to win the 3A state title. They have the team and they have the low stick needed with Ortega. San Elizario can get their title winning started right back up. Although it was minimal, they beat the top 4A teams on Monday. As easy as it sounds but as difficult as it will be, all they have to do is do it again. They also have a solid low stick with Gomez.

Eastwood and Hanks have legitimate opportunities for the 5A state title. Eastwood won it all last year and they should be the favorites this year as well. Their pack running is their strength and translates at any level. Their top 3 runners ran within 18 seconds of each other and the fourth was 15 second behind the three spot making the 1-5 split 33 seconds.

Hanks has two low sticks. With Abeyta and Rivera, they could have one low score in two runners. Their 3, 4, and 5 runners are packed up as well, making them very dangerous for a podium finish.

The Franklin girls have been on fire all season long. Monday, just continued their streak running and showed the rest of the state how good they actually are.

Americas, is perhaps the surprise of all of the teams. Not because they qualified for state, but because they placed so high in such adverse conditions and against such top notch competition.

Americas qualified for state last year and returned quantity and quality from last year and making it state was an expectation. Monday, they demonstrated the year to year development necessary to make the jump the next level.

In Round Rock they will once again take on teams like Southlake Carroll, Flower Mound, Coppell, and The Woodlands. They have take on the state's best this year, including topping all of them on Monday Except Carroll. They have also taken on The Woodlands at Nike South where they competed well. At podium finish is well within Americas' grasp.