Lakeside (AR) senior Joseph Bariola won the NXR South Championship Boys race
I take pride in getting things right or being as close to it as possible in my previews. However, I don't know everything. Sometimes, I am flat out wrong and sometimes I erroneously or accidentally just overlook teams and individuals.
Got It Wrong
Individually and team wise, I was almost on point in my boys preview for the NXR South race. However, I had an error and an accidental over sight.
I failed to include Arkansas 5A individual state champion Joseph Bariola. That was so wrong and he brought the awareness in a major way. The Lakeside senior was involved in this race from beginning to end.
Wearing a singlet that said Chicago in cursive script, I immediately took notice of Bariola because he was in the lead and because I'm originally from The Windy City.
Bariola either led or kept contact every step of the 5,000m course and took a gamble to take the lead in the final 400m and held on for the win and a big time 14:52 personal best.
Torres finished fourth overall to punch his ticket to NXN as an individual. He is the second individual qualifier in the program's history following Daniel Bernal's 2016 qualification that led to a tenth place NXN finish.
Already enjoying a great season, Torres entered the year with track PRs of only 4:37 and 9:50, but proved he is much improved. He was third this fall at the Desert Twilight XC Invite in 15:11, fourth in his race at the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic in 14:33, and was fifth at the UIL 6A state meet in 15:10.
In today's race Torres dug himself out of a hole where he was in the midst of a sea of chase pack runners. After running a very fast 4:43 first mile he found himself 10-15 meters behind the leaders, but he was able to join them by mile two.
Torres final fourth place finish in a 14:57 personal best run changes things for him state wide, nationally, and in the history of El Paso Eastwood's growing tradition.
Photo Credit: Jan Smits/MileSplit TX
Got it Right
I think you'd agree that after missing on Bariola and Torres, there was a lot that went as predicted.
In the midst of a very challenging field, we picked the Southlake Carroll boys to still be the team to beat. What they made look like a formality and them qualifying seems almost ceremonious, but it shouldn't be overlooked at how good the rest of the region was this year.
Six teams ran sub sixteen-minute averages and only one of them ran a split over 42 seconds and that was a 59 second split by the fourth place team Deer Creek.
With that said, we had a close and fast race between Carroll, runner-ups Bentonville, Austin Vandegrift, Deer Creek, and the rest of the field.
Individually, we had a solid host group to go along with our miss of Bariola and Torres.
Last year's NXR South winner Adam Burlison led for a good part of the race and finished runner-up, Caden Leonard also shared leading duties was third, and Benjamin Montgomery and Hudson Haley rounded out the NXN individual qualifiers.
Not only did we have the rest of the qualifiers right, but we also had eleven of the top sixteen finishers as individual runners to watch.
What our rights and wrongs mean in the grand scheme is that despite our imperfection, it's a credit to the consistency of teams and individuals as well as the ability to step up for others.