San Antonio 800-Meter Preview

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - The preview on the 800 meters is the sixth in the series of preview articles for the San Antonio Metro area. The 800 is the first event that will start to feature some of the top cross country athletes in the area which gives me a little more to write about. One of the biggest questions that I am interested in is what will Jefferson's Henok Hayele decide to do this Spring? Will he only play soccer? Will he only run track? Or will he try to do both?

6A Boys

A pair of Ethan's return as the top 800-meter runners. Ethan Malesich (Brandeis) took sixth at the Regional meet last year and has the top returning time in the area at 1:55.75 while Ethan Rodriguez (Reagan) was fourth at the Regional meet in 2021 but only 10th last year and he ran a best time of 1:56.54 last year. Overall, there are eight returners who broke 2:00 last year.

The runner I am most excited about in this group is Reagan's Gavin Chapa who ran a 1:58.88 last year as a freshman and had a great cross country season where he took 25th at the State meet. A few others that are interesting include Harlan's Elijah Hernandez who is also a top 400-meter runner and Johnson's Tate Underwood who has focused on the 1600 and 3200 but can compete with the best in the Region in the 800 as well.

6A Girls

Brennan sophomore Caila Lyons heads into the season as far and away the best 800-meter runner in the area. She took fourth in the State last year and also was in the 400-meter Regional finals. She ran the 1600 one time last year and clocked a 5:09.94 so it will be interesting if she decides to go for the 800-1600 double rather than the 400-800 double.

While Lyons broke 2:12 last year, only one other area returner broke 2:20, San Marcos' Alexandria Juarez. Four of the next five girls are also ranked in the top five in the 1600 meters including Jadelyn Malesich (Brandeis), Madeline Moore (Churchill), Sanai Robinson (Warren) and Jadyn Cook (Steele).

5A Boys

The 5A boys are not especially deep in the 800 but at the top is a runner who has shown great improvement in the last year, Southwest Legacy's Anthony Zapata. He took sixth at the Regional meet last year with a time of 1:57.83. Already this year, he finished 13th at the State meet in cross country and dropped his 5K time by over 1:30. I am intrigued to see if he continues to run the 800 or if he bumps up to the 1600 and 3200 this year.

The rest of the area only has five runners who have broken 2:05 and just one, Joseph White of Alamo Heights, who has broken two minutes. Both White and Zapata are among the top four returners in the entire Region. Boerne Champion's Luis Tovar is another to follow since he is ranked third in both the 800 and 1600 in San Antonio.

5A Girls

There is a large shadow that hangs over the 5A girls 800 meters in Region 4 and that is Isabel Conde de Frankenberg from Cedar Park who ran a 2:05.61 last year. Smithson Valley sophomore Mia Perez is the top returner in the area and ranks as the #2 runner in the Region but is not a shoo-in to make it to State despite a best time of 2:13.68 last year. What Perez has though is speed and endurance ranking in the top five in the area in the 400 and 1600 meters as well.

Canyon and Smithson Valley each have two girls ranked in the top five and Canyon has a total of four returners who have run under 2:32. Smithson Valley's Sophie Goodwin gives them a great 1-2 punch and she could break 2:20 this year. Ava Jeckell is Canyon's top returning 800-meter runner with a time of 2:22.85 last year and her teammate, Alexia Tiscareno Macias  is an outstanding runner who ranks in the top five returners in all three distance events. She also finished 34th at the State meet in cross country this Fall. Southwest's Madisson Perez competed at the Regional meet in both the 400 and 800 and should be ready to have a great season.

4A Boys

If you can run close to two minutes, then you have a chance to compete for a Regional title in the 4A boys 800 meters and that is what Davenport sophomore Jaylin Morrow Davenport has a chance to do this year. He ran a season best time of 2:01.20 last year at his district meet and is over four seconds faster than the next fastest returner.

The top 800 runners in the area are spread out among a wide range of schools. Uvalde, Somerset, Pearsall, Wimberley, Bandera and Boerne all have one runner who returns with a season best of faster than 2:10. Jack Collins of Uvalde clocks in as the second-best returner at 2:05.53. Collins and Pearsall's Gilbert Marquez join Morrow as the only returning area runners who competed at the Regional meet last year.

4A Girls

The 4A girls are a deep group in San Antonio this year and they have star power in Fredericksburg junior Taylor Grona who was the State runner-up last year in the event and recently finished as the State runner-up in cross country as well. She ran a time of 2:16.31 a year ago and will likely continue to dominate the 800 and 1600 in the area.

Wimberley's Madison Anderson is the best of the rest after finishing sixth at the Regional meet in a time of 2:24.56. Her teammate, Lily De La Rosa, and Canyon Lake's Hannah Hammer are both sophomores who could push for some top spots at this year's Regional meet. Overall, there are 11 returners who have run sub-2:35 so I expect a fun year at the 4A level in the 800.

3A Boys

The top 3A boys 800-meter runner is Robert Wagner from Lytle and he is a very accomplished. He finished 6th in the State meet in the event last year and then in the Fall he took 19th at the State cross country meet. He has a best time of 1:59.81 which makes him the only runner in the entire Region to have a sub-2:00 time next to his name.

One of the challengers that Wagner will face is Isai Moran (Great Hearts Northern Oaks) who has run a low 2:04 and he also defeated Wagner at the State cross country meet. Wagner's teammate, Abel Sanchez, has competed at three State cross country meets but has yet to make his mark in a big way on the track. However, Sanchez is rated as the third best returner in the area.

3A Girls

In a similar fashion to the 4A girls, the 3A girls 800-meter runners have a lot of quality returning to the track this year. There are 11 runners with reported times below 2:40 including a trio of mid-distance stars who will be vying for a berth in the State finals. Randolph sophomores Jaela Smith and Sophia Bendet each ran under 2:24 last year with Smith's season ending with a fourth-place finish at the State meet. Bendet followed up her excellent track season by placing 4th at the State cross country meet this year. The third runner in the top group is Lytle's Marissa Lopez who posted a time of 2:24.56 at the Regional meet last year and took seventh at the State cross country meet this year.

While the top trio is a notch above the rest of the area, there are at least seven others who could be running in the 2:20's this year. The one who I think will make the biggest leap is Moriah Gomez of Lytle who took 14th at the State cross country meet.

Other Boys

I am combining the private schools, smaller public schools and home school athletes into one group. There are some big names coming out of the private schools this year in the 800 including the TAPPS 6A State champion, Todd Worth (Antonian), and two of the top cross country runners in the nation, Franco Parra and Marcelo Parra of TMI. Worth ran a time of 1:57.13 last year while the Parra twins each went sub 2:00.

San Antonio Christian's Kyle Whaley returns as the #2 runner in the area and recently was fourth at the State cross country meet behind the Parra's and his teammate, freshman Adrian Rule who is likely the most exciting freshman boys distance runner in the area this year. Christopher Chan of St. Mary's Hall is a top-quality runner and Central Catholic has three excellent half-milers as well.  

Other Girls

Boerne Geneva's Isabella Godoy is at the head of the class in the 800. She was a State champion last year and clocked a top time of 2:16.65. In addition, she won the State title in the 1600 and is one of the top 400-meter runners in the area as well. Sophomore Kayla Radtke of Antonian is next on the list after running a time of 2:21.05 and taking sixth at the State meet.

Radtke has three other teammates who have run sub-2:36. Cornerstone Christian's Lesli Salas won the State title in cross country in the Fall and was the TAPPS South Regional champion in the 800 last year. Elaina Craven (Fredericksburg Heritage) is an intriguing athlete heading into the Spring after winning the State title in the high jump, grabbing the silver medal in the 400 meters, the bronze medal in the 800 meters and fourth place in the pole vault.

* Please note that all times are taken from the MileSplit website. There is always a possibility that someone I mentioned no longer competes for the school they did last year or that they are even competing in track and field anymore. These articles are just a very early preview of the upcoming season.