When Hard Work Makes your Cross Country Dreams Come True

When Hard Work Makes Your Dreams Come True

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By Michael Abeyta l El Paso Hanks High School l Class of 2020

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I want to take this time to write about a dream seven young men had this summer. It all started last year, when they were coming off the disappointment of just missing out on the Texas UIL Cross Country Class 5A State Championships following the Region 5A-1 meet. At that moment, they were on a mission to work hard and make the state cross country meet in 2019.

Background On This School

  • Population: 1,500 students 
  • History: Title 1 school
  • XC team roster: 14 total members
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Fighting Adversity With Hard Work

They don't have the numbers and sheer size that some powerhouse schools have. They are not the most glamorous program, and they don't have fancy uniforms. They don't travel across the country. They just had a dream.

This summer, a group of 14 young men decided that they wanted to work their tails off and push each other. They took up an Avengers saying: "Whatever it takes."

This team has a young man who has won multiple state medals and is one of the best in the country, but the trip to state has always been a lonely one, with no teammates accompanying him. 

Last year, one of his teammates put in the extra work and became an All-State cross country runner, but again, it was still a semi-lonely trip.

This season, the team overcame adversity and injuries. One of their best runners left the team because he is a nationally ranked boxer and chose that sport over running.

With only 14 boys on the program, it now had to depend on underclassmen to step up, a tall task. They didn't even field their complete team until the district meet.

The district meet is where they ran into the previous district champions. Those same district champions happened to be the defending state champions and an NXN qualifier.

They squared off against the defending state champs and were within seven points of them at the meet.

These young men were starting to believe.

And while the powerhouse teams keep churning, the young men on this team just kept doing "Whatever it takes."

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First Hand Regional Meet Perspective

The young men arrived at the Region 5A-1 meet on a Monday in late November, looking to right the wrong of their near miss in 2018. However, I don't know how many people locally thought they could achieve what they were about to accomplish.

They showed up in 40-degree weather coming from a desert climate. The coaches hoped this wouldn't knock them off their game -- they were dealing with a freshman who was asking if this moment was too big for him.

They were also wondering if the No. 2 runner had returned from an injury and was back into the form of being an All-State performer. Parents were asking if this was the team's time. Coaches saw them. These young men looked calm, ready and excited.

But what would happen when the gun went off?

At 1:30 CST p.m, they found out. As expected, the No. 1 runner was out in front, battling one of the best runners in the nation. 

However, this team's No. 2 was in the third overall position. Coaches and parents were worried that he went out too fast. 

The other three runners were in a prime position and the six and seven runners were running hard.

Halfway through the race, everything held.

The No. 1 runner was battling for the lead, the No. 2 runner was still in third and being stalked by the defending state champions.

The No. 3 and No. 4 guys were still in good position and the No. 6 and No. 7 runners were battling.

Where was the freshman, the No. 5 runner? Coaches were scrambling. The parents were wondering where he was.

The final 300 meters of the race, the No. 1 runner was still battling down the home stretch, the No. 2 runner was still holding off the powerhouse team members of the state champs, and the No. 3 and No. 4 guys were holding steady in a good position.

But ... where the team's No.5?

Coaches from local high schools cheered on the kids, wondering if all five passed. Then they saw the No. 6 and No. 7 guys. There was a frantic 'Oh my gosh! Did something happen?' 

All of a sudden, one of the coaches frantically ran up to them, saying that their No. 5 was in front of the No. 3!


The freshman and the No. 3 and No. 4 runners were sprinting to the line with all of them in the top 30 overall spots.

Their No. 5 runner was third best for the team on this day.

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Realization And Celebration

The parents and coaches began hugging each other and screaming for joy. They thought it would be enough to get in.

The parents and coaches began sprinting down to the finish, gasping for air to meet the band of seven runners-- all brothers in this moment.

Upon arrival, the scene was seven guys hugging and crying. They knew they did whatever it took.

But they asked? 'Would it be enough? Would it be the final fourth-place qualifying position?'

Whatever it would be, these young men just wanted to confirm their dreams of going to state, going there together. They wanted that reality.

The next hour was painstaking, in having to wait for the for the final results to be made public. But the wait was worth it. Not only was the team going to state, but they had just finished runner-up to the defending state champions.

The No. 1 and No. 2 runners were not going to have to make the trip to state this year without their brothers! 

When the top runner found out he had run the fastest regional time ever from El Paso, he said, " I don't care, my brothers are going to state with me!"

It's a dream that was realized through hard work and sacrifice, by a group of seven varsity runners and seven junior varsity runners back at home.

Through all the adversity, they did whatever it took to realize their dreams. These young men did something that had never been done at their school in over 30 years.

They did this for their parents, for their coaches, and for their school.

But most of all, they ran for each other!

These great group of young men reside at Hanks High School in El Paso, Texas!