Previewing the San Antonio Half-Milers

Photo of Sophia Bendet at UIL 3A State Meet

The San Antonio Metro area could be in line for a huge year from the half-milers. The quality is spread out among all the different school classifications with high level runners at nearly every level. Among the 10 best returning boys there are four from private schools, three from 5A schools, two from 6A schools and one from a 3A school. The overall top 10 girls might be even more spread out with three from 6A, three from 4A, two from 3A, one from 5A and one from private schools.

6A Boys

The top returner is Reagan's Gavin Chapa who has options when it comes to what he focuses on this year. He ran a 1:55.02 last year but did not advance out of the Area round in the 800m. The 1600m is likely his best event but the 3200m might be in play more this year after he had a fantastic cross country season where he finished 10th in the State.

Chapa is not the only top returner who did not qualify for the Regional meet. In fact, there is only one 6A returner who made the Regional finals, O'Connor's John David Alvarado who ran 2:01.80 as a freshman. In addition to Chapa, there are four others who have personal bests under two minutes: Elijah Hernandez (Sotomayor), Alejandro Rosales (Churchill), Michael Repper-Molina (Johnson) and Luke Munoz (Reagan). After Chapa, my I really like Hernandez who was a State qualifier in the 400m.

6A Girls

Brennan's Caila Lyons has dominated the 800m for the last two years in San Antonio and it should be the same this year. Last year, she got upset in the Regional finals but she saved her best for last and ran a 2:09.82 at the State meet to take home the silver medal. She is one of a hand full of girls who have broke 2:10 and she could go for the city record of 2:09.33 held by Boerne Champion's Chachi Gonzales.

A strong #2 contender is O'Connor's Alma Lazo Cazares who just kept getting better and better last year and she ran a season best of 2:15.25. After Lyons and Cazares there are three other returners who ran at the Regional meet: Sanai Robinson (Warren), Alexandria Juarez (San Marcos) and Jadyn Cook (Steele). One more runner to watch is New Braunfels freshman Savanah Moya who ran 2:21.85 in eighth grade last year.

5A Boys

The 5A boys are a much stronger group than they were last year with five returners who broke 2:00 last year. Once again Anthony Zapata of Southwest Legacy is the top guy after he ran a 1:54.28 at the State meet. He had an outstanding cross country campaign where he finished eighth in the State and he appears ready to for a great senior year.

Boerne Champion has a pair of studs in Luis Tovar and Caleb Dehart. Tovar was a State qualifier last year and ran 1:56.25 at the Regional meet while Dehart has a best time of 1:58.27. The next duo to follow is a little under the radar, Pieper's Justin Martin and Noah Autry. Martin was an eighth grader last year and ran 1:58.47 at the AAU Junior National meet while Autry ran 1:59.97 in a loaded District 26-5A final last year. Caden Alvarado of Alamo Heights and Adam Ruiz of Jefferson are another pair of strong returners who both made the Regional meet.

5A Girls

Mia Perez (Smithson Valley) ran one of the most electrifying races I have ever seen at last year's Regional meet where she was tripped and fell just 200m into the race and was way behind the leaders before getting up and running an amazing final 600m. Unfortunately, she came up .09s short of earning a trip to the State meet. She should be the dominant 5A half-miler in San Antonio again this year and will be one of the favorites in Region IV, along with Cedar Park's Isabel Conde de Frankenberg.

Looking at the top returners shows a large group of sophomores including Pieper's Sadie Larson and Brittan Nichols as well as Adelyn Kincaid (Tivy), Aubrey Effler (Alamo Heights) and Mollie Allen (Canyon). Alicia Galvez of Southwest Legacy and Madellyn Fiedler of Tivy are two upperclassmen to follow who have each run faster than 2:23.50.

4A Boys

The 4A boys half-miler group is wide open this year with six returners who made the Regional meet and five runners who have personal bests between 1:59.84 and 2:01.36. Uvalde's Jack Collins has the best returning time while Davenport's Cal Taylor is the top Regional finisher. Taylor and teammate, Jaylin Morrow, are each among the top-5 returners in the 400m and 800m and it will be interesting to see if they each keep doubling up.

Wimberley's Arlen Hanle is an 800m specialist and Derek Adams of Fredericksburg is a middle- and long-distance stud. Both are legitimate half-milers who could challenge for a Regional title. Hanle ran 2:00.96 last year and had a strong XC campaign this Fall. Adams ran the 800m, 1600m and 3200m at the Regional meet last year and finished between 10th and 12th in each race. It would seem that this year he may narrow his focus to give him a better chance to make the State meet.

4A Girls

The Fredericksburg trio of Ann Claire Cop, Rilyn Grona and Taylor Grona dominates the 4A girls distance events and that starts with the 800m. Taylor Grona is one of the best overall runners in the State. She finished fourth in the 800m last year and ran a season best of 2:15.62 at the Area meet. She will be looking for a fourth straight Regional title this year and that elusive State title. Rilyn finished sixth in the Region and has a best time of 2:17.84 while Cop ran 2:22.35, but her focus is on the 1600m and 3200m.

Davenport's Kendall Fallon and Canyon Lake's trio of runners; Hannah Hammer, Cadence Patterson and Aubrey Avey could all challenge Fredericksburg this year. Fallon is the top 300mH in the Region so she may not trio to double in the 800m while Patterson usually runs the 1600m and 3200m. Hammer is the next best 800m specialist but will have to be on her game at the District and Area meets to keep advancing since she is in the same District as the Fredericksburg girls.

3A Boys

Fresh off leading Great Hearts Northern Oaks to a Cross Country State title, Isai Moran enters the track season as the top 3A boy in the 800m. Last year, he won the Region IV title thanks to a two-second PR, 1:57.92. He is the only returner who has run under two minutes and it should come as no surprise that he has two teammates among the four best returners in the area, Benjamin Alcott and Krish Vijayvergia. Alcott has a personal best of 2:01.95 while Vijayvergia has run 2:04.46. Both are better in the other distance events.

After the GHNO boys, Lytle should have at least two high quality half-milers in Abel Sanchez and Brandon Obando. Both runners made the Regional meet last year and it would come as no surprise if Lytle puts three runners into the final again this year. Outside of GHNO and Lytle the next two runners to follow are Cole's Javier Hernandez and Randolph's Josh Howard who is highly rated in the 1600m and 3200m as well.

3A Girls

Sophia Bendet of Randolph stands at the head of the class in 3A. She currently is the owner of State titles in XC, 800m and 1600m. The junior won the State title running a time of 2:16.01 and has a personal best of 2:14.60. The only runner in the area who could challenge her is Poth's Brooklyn Albert who generally does not run the 800m but finished fourth in the 1600m and 3rd in the 3200m at the State meet last year.

After Bendet, there are only two returners who ran in the Regional meet last year, Klayre Cook of Lytle and Jasmine Jones of Poth. Cook ran 2:33.46 and there are two others who were faster than her, but did not necessarily focus on the 800m, Josie Davis of Great Hearts Northern Oaks and Aubrey Milam of Randolph. Davis and Milam will each have decisions to make on what events to focus on.

Private and Homeschool Boys

I am combining the private schools, smaller public schools and home school athletes into one group. The group of private school boys is the deepest and best group of 800m runners this year. The trio of Todd Worth (Antonian), Christopher Harris (Cornerstone) and Mason Wokoma (Antonian) match up with anyone in the city. Worth ran 1:54.11 and is a two-time TAPPS 6A State champion in 800m. He also owns State titles in cross country and the 1600m. Harris ran 1:53.52 at the TTFCA Meet of Champions last year and finished fifth at the AAU Junior Olympics. Wokoma has a top time of 1:55.8 and finished third at the TAPPS 6A meet.

After the top three, there are five more returning runners who ran faster than 2:00 last year: Christopher Chan (St. Mary's Hall), Noah Fernandez (Central Catholic), Marcelo Parra (TMI), Franco Parra (TMI) and Farrin Mangelson (SA Patriots). The Parra's and Mangelson will likely be running the 1600m and 3200m at the bigger meets.

Private and Homeschool Girls

It seems like the top half-milers all attend Antonian this year since the four of the top six returners are Lady Apaches. Micaela Villarreal is far away the best of the bunch after running 2:15.32 last year. She won State titles in the 800m, 3200m and cross country in the past year. Her teammates include Kayla Radtke (2:24.77), Serenity Menchaca (2:25.49) and Kaliya Jones (2:30.98). The best non-Antonian runners are Giselle Gonzalez of Providence and Gabbi Smith of SA Patriots. Gonzalez finished eighth in TAPPS 6A last year while Smith was seventh at the Homeschool State meet.

* 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.