SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - The preview on
the 1600 meters is the seventh in the series of preview articles for the San
Antonio Metro area. The mile is a loaded event for the area with numerous State
champions as well as many teams who have multiple top returners. There should
be some epic battles on the track this year.
It figures to be a fast year for the 6A boys 1600-meter runners this year with seven returners who broke 4:30 last year. The head of the class is Johnson's Tate Underwood who qualified for the State meet as the best third place finisher and ran 4:13 at both the Regional and State meets. Underwood is also the top returning 3200-meter runner in the area.
Brandeis and Holmes both return a pair of excellent milers. Hayden Scott nearly broke 4:20 as a sophomore and Evan Noriega went sub-4:25 last year for the Broncos. Meanwhile, Holmes brings back Vincent Garza and sophomore Ben Montgomery who each ran 4:28. Reagan's Gavin Chapa (4:25.42) and New Braunfels' Ethan Stutts (4:26.70) are the other returners who cracked the 4:30 mark last year.
Brennen's Caila Lyons has the top returning mile in the area, but she normally focuses on the 400 and 800. Churchill's Madeline Moore ran a 5:15 as a sophomore and should continue to be at the top among San Antonio runners. Chasing her will be Lee's Helena Herzog and Warren's Sanai Robinson who are both top notch all-around distance runners.
After the top four, there are seven more runners who have run sub-5:25. Three of those runners accomplished the feat as freshmen last year; Jadyn Cook (Steele), Jadeyn Perez (Clark) and Alexandria Juarez (San Marcos). As usual, New Braunfels has a pair of strong milers in Aidyn Rundberg and Lola Daffin.
Similar to the 5A boys 800 runners, the top 1600-meter runners are a fairly small group led by Lockhart's James Franco who ran a 4:21.71 last season. Only Franco and Canyon's John Kelemen (4:24.77) have broke 4:29. However, it figures that Jefferson's Henok Hayele would attempt the 1600 this year and if the cross country season is any indication of what he can run he will be one of the tough milers in the entire State.
The next best 1600-meter runners hail from Canyon, Nathan Aguilar and Smithson Valley, Schaefer Robertson. Each has cracked the 4:30 barrier. Another runner to pay attention to is Boerne Champion's Luis Tovar who had a great freshman season on the track and was the team's top runner at the State Cross Country Meet this Fall.
It does not always happen, but this year the 5A girls are faster than the 6A girls in the 1600 meters. The top four runners all compete in the same district. Boerne Champion's Kynley Albright ran a 5:06.40 last year at the district meet and finished fifth! This year, it would be a big surprise not to see her advance, but she will have her work cut out for her. Smithson Valley's Mia Perez finished sixth in the 6A Regional meet last year and has the most speed in the group.
Canyon has a trio of excellent runners that could each win any meet. Taylor Cochran and Alexia Tiscareno Macias each ran 5:15 last year while Ava Jeckell posted a 5:20. Brackenridge star Melody Espinoza ran sub-5:20 last year and took 15th at the State cross country meet this year. Two more runners to follow are Mia Perez's older sister, Sophia, who was injured for most of last year, but bounced back with a strong cross country season highlighted by a 16th place finish at State and Champion freshman Elizabeth Leachman who was 20th at the State Cross Country meet and ran 5:23 in 8th grade.
The top 4A boys are led by a trio of sophomores; Christian Pena (Davenport), Eli Guerra (Davenport) and Derek Adams (Fredericksburg). Pena has an interesting MileSplit page that shows him sweeping the district titles in the 800, 1600, 3200 and cross country in the past calendar year but he has never run past the district level. He ran a 4:28.45 in the 1600 last year. His teammate, Guerra, has much more post season experience competing at the Regional track meet and the State cross country meet this year.
Bandera's Braden Cox breaks up the group of sophomores at the top of the area list and will challenge Pena as the top runner. He ran a 4:33.82 last year and finished 27th in the State in cross country. Boerne has three solid runners, but none that will likely challenge for a State meet berth.
The 4A girls are dominated by underclassmen this year. Fredericksburg's Taylor Grona is the class of the division after taking fifth in the State meet last year with a time of 5:11.55. She is one of the top runners at any level in the area.
Five other runners went sub-5:30 last year and none of them are seniors. In addition to Grona, Fredericksburg boasts Ann Claire Cop who ran a 5:22.62 and was 11th in the State in cross country and freshman Rylin Grona who took 10th in cross country this Fall. Boerne's Mary Marino is the second-best returner after running 5:20.38 a year ago en route to finishing 8th at the State meet. Canyon Lake's Cadence Patterson, Wimberley's Madison Anderson and Davenport's Madeline Reagan round out the rest of the group. Reagan notched a top-25 State finish in cross country this year.
I talked a lot about Isai Moran (Great Hearts Northern Oaks) and Robert Wagner (Lytle) in my article about the 800 meters and the two are also the top 1600-meter runners in the area. Moran ran a 4:38.46 last year and Wagner clocked a 4:44. Mora's teammate, Benjamin Alcott, has also run a 4:44 and both runners finished in the top 20 at the State cross country meet.
There are only four other runners who have run sub-5:00 miles in their careers. The best of that group is Josh Howard of Randolph who is a much better 2-miler. A runner who is down the list a little bit is Lytle's Johnny Alvarez who ran a 5:11.21 last year but appears to have put in the work in the off season after finishing in the top 10 in the State in cross country.
There is a large group of returning 1600-meter runners at the 3A girls level this year but only four have run under 5:50. The leader of the pack is also the youngest. Rylee Ellis of Poth is just a freshman, but she ran a 5:38.12 in eighth grade and she had a strong cross country season finishing 16th in the State. Her teammate, Brooklyn Albert, is also a freshman and was the State Runner-Up in cross country but does not have a time for the 1600 yet.
Poth appears to be loaded with milers as Keira McKinney ranks second among returners with a time of 5:44.98 from last year. The other two runners to go under 5:50 are Virginia Lessner of Great Hearts Monte Vista and Josey Davis of Great Hearts Northern Oaks. Davis did defeat McKinney at the State cross country meet.
I am combining the private schools, smaller public schools and home school athletes into one group. The big local private schools dominate the 1600 meters in the area with Antonian, Central Catholic, San Antonio Christian and TMI all sporting top notch runners this year. Marcelo Parra and Franco Parra of TMI are the cream of the crop with Marcelo edging his brother as the top returner. Both have run 4:15 or better.
Antonian's Todd Worth and Central Catholic's Nathan Morales are the other two runners to run sub-4:30 last year. San Antonio Christian and Central Catholic each have three runners who have times in the 4:30's. The best non-private school returner is Elias Flores of FEAST who ran a 4:56.26 last year.
The girls division is loaded with talent including three State 1600 champions in Micaela Villarreal (Antonian), Isabella Godoy (Boerne Geneva) and Lesli Salas (Cornerstone Christian). Villarreal was the TAPPS 6A champion and has a top time of 5:00.18 that she ran last year as a freshman. Godoy is the TAPPS 5A champion and the top 800-meter runner in the area. Salas swept the 800, 1600 and 3200 TAPPS 1A State titles last year and has a top time of 5:18.78.
Antonian has a bunch of quality runners to help Villarreal including the Maya twins, Haylee and Hannah, who both run in the 5:20's. FEAST's Loghan Gonzales is the top non-private school runner. She ran a 5:31.51 last year and was fifth at the Texas State Homeschool Championships.
* 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.