These days, cross country meets are small and kind of watered down in terms of elite level talent. The Desert Twilight didn't quite follow that script.
It's typically a national level meet attracting top individuals and teams from across the south and west. COVID hampered the meet a little compared to typical years, but it still had some quality. A lot of that quality came from Texas.
The winner and the runner-up both hail from the 'Great State of Texas' with Ben Shearer being from The Woodlands Christian and Judson Greer of Melissa. Greer's time (14;39.60) is a new course record and US No. 3 in the 5K and Greer's time (14:45.81) now ranks him US No.7 on the 2020 cross country season.
However, there was more fire power than two of the state's and nation's best. Runners from all across Texas had superb races in Arizona. The boys top-10 had two more Texas with El Paso Eastwood senior Sergio Leon Cuartas (5th - 15:15.53) and Wylie senior Luke Lambert (ninth - 15:25.28). Two San Elizario runners Edwin Gomez (12th - 15:36.48) and Dilan Sanchez (14th - 15:40.33) also had impressive outings.
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Eastwood and San Elizario have been two of the best teams in the state in their respective UIL classifications; both squads found success in Arizona. Eastwood won the meet and in impressive fashion by only scoring 53 points, but the way they did it was even more impressive.
Cuartas' top five finish was a huge boost, but Eastwood's running style that has led them to the state meet awards podium in each of the last three years including two UIL 5A state championships was again their mode of operation. They blazed a 15:46 team average with only a 42 second split; however, utilizing the low stick performance of Cuartas didn't go to waste, but it was perhaps the 2-5 runners who made it the performance it was.
Aaron Perez, Isaac Mendoza, Victor Anchondo, and Victor Parra were the No. 2 - 5 scorers for Eastwood. Each of them finished in the top-25 and the split between them all was only six seconds, proving their recipe isn't an accident and it is extremely effective for them.
UIL 3A perennial powerhouse and another El Paso area stud team, San Elizario finished fourth overall in the 16 team field. They finished with a 16:20 team average as their top two got help on the back end of their scoring.
San Elizario who looks to get back at the top of the state podium this year after a couple of years hiatus proved that they have the potential to get back on top in Round Rock.
Lauren Portillo-Walls of Eastwood represented for the Texas girls. She finished 10th overall with a 18:14.62, which is a TX No.19 ranked 5K time for the 2020 cross country season.