CORPUS CHRISTI — Wiliams Macias looked as far as he could past the wide hilly path for the boys 5,000-meter race Monday at the Class 5A UIL Region IV cross country championship.
He was focused while waiting for the sound of the starting gun. Once the starting gun’s trigger was pulled, he and his PSJA Memorial teammates, who made up seven of the 183 runners at the event, were off to the races.
Eleso Salazar of PSJA Memorial came out leading the pack, which included teams and individuals from Brownsville Veterans, Donna High, Mercedes, Edcouch-Elsa, La Joya Palmview, Rio Grande City and Sharyland Pioneer, among others.
By the time they reached the first-mile marker, Macias was in the lead and never looked back.
Macias’ finished first with a time of 15:42.7 seconds, guaranteeing him a ticket to the UIL state championship slated Nov. 9 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.
Mercedes’ Guadalupe Reyes and Donna High’s Samuel Martinez also advanced individually.
The Edcouch-Elsa Yellow Jackets boys advanced to state as a team by placing fourth with 153 points in the race.
“He hit the first mile in 4 minutes, 45 seconds,” PSJA Memorial head coach Ernesto Cazares said about Macias. “He was flying, and the guys were trying to pace him, and they just let him go after that.”
Macias said coming into the race, he wasn’t sure if he could win it all.
By the time he hit the 400-meter mark, Macias was 40 meters ahead of the next-closest runner.
“When I finished, I turned around and nobody was there,” Macias said.
The Progreso Red Ants huddled for a prayer and took in hug from their head coach, Ivan Gonzalez, before marching to the starting line of the Class 4A race.
After they shot out of block, Gonzalez wondered if what he told the team was enough to fire them up on their fourth regional championship title defense.
He took comfort in knowing the hug was all it was going to take as he moved to another area of the 5,000-meter race to look for his runners.
“We felt confident and lucky we came out on top,” Progreso’s Samuel Cerda said. “We just needed to stay as close as possible and keep the gap close between all our top five.”
Progreso’s first man, Jonathan Vega, placed third with a time of 16:42.5. The Red Ants’ second man, Gerardo Gallardo, placed sixth in 16:55.3 to help lift the team to its first-place finish.
“Walking up to the podium for the fourth straight time feels nice,” Cerda said.
In the 5A girls competition, the Sharyland High Rattlers raced their way back to the state meet with a fourth-place finish. Three of their runners finished in the top 20. They were led by senior Andrea Gallardo, who finished 12th with a time of 20:05.6. Following her in 16th was sophomore Danielle Salinas in 20:19.4. Senior Delilah Vega finished 20th in 20:28.8. The Rattlers scored a combined 113 points.
Donna North’s boys also secured a fourth spot in its 6A race.
“It’s a great experience to be able to go to state as a team,” Donna North Jorge Ponce said. “Hopefully we can make history at state once again.”
Donna North was a second-place finalist in its 2016 cross country campaign.
“We knew we had to step it up as a team,” Donna North’s Jesus Mora said about his team’s victory.
Mora and Ponce finished in seventh and tenth, respectively. Both of them were on the 2016 team.
Weslaco High’s Amity Ebarb and Weslaco East’s Tessie Garcia were battling for a top 10 finish during the entire 6A girls race. Following close behind was Mission High’s Leila Arriola.
Each of them went on to punch their ticket to the state meet finishing in sixth, ninth and 12th, respectively.
“It feels so surreal to come here with my team and make it this far,” Weslaco High’s Amity Ebarb said. “There were so many elite girls pushing the race. It felt good to get a good start and have a good finish, too.”
Weslaco East head coach Josh Davis said Garcia worked every day through sickness and bad weather and never took a day off as she prepared for her postseason appearances.
“She (Garcia) had a goal and she met that goal today,” Davis said. “She’s been consistently one of the best in the Valley and she continued to do that today with her top 10 finish.”
In the 6A boys race, seven runners from the Valley placed in the top 10 to secure their tickets to the state meet. Donna North had two runners on that list finishing seventh and 10th.
The first two runners were Edinburg Vela’s Ramsey Moreno and Jeremy Nino, who finished second and third, respectively.
PSJA North’s Hector Solis participated individually and finished fifth in 15:59.2.
La Joya Juarez-Lincoln’s Freddy Calvillo finished ninth in 16:07.53.
“I managed to get to state again for the second time,” Calvillo said about his performance. “I’m real happy with what I did today.”
UIL Region IV Cross Country Championship
Oct. 28, 2019
1. Progreso, 55; 2; 2. Liberty Hill, 71; 3. La Feria, 167; 4. Fredericksburg, 174
1. Boerne, 78; 2. Lockhart, 129; 3. Dripping Springs, 144; 4. Edcouch-Elsa, 153
1.San Antonio Johnson, 59; 2.San Antonio Brandeis, 182;
3. Comal Canyon, 237; 4. Donna North, 241
1. Liberty Hill, 76; 2. Bandera, 156; 3. Salado, 160; 4. Johnson (Buda), 176
1. Boerne Champion, 35; 2. Dripping Springs, 80; 3. Austin Johnson, 87; 4. Sharyland High, 113
1.Austin Westlake, 77; 2. Comal Canyon, 122; 3. Spring Branch Smithson Valley, 128; 4. Laredo United, 152
TOP 10 BOYS 4A
1. Hudson Bennett, Burnet, 16:21.93;2. Adan Jonjuitud, Zapata, 16:28.40;3. Logan Rickey, Salado,16:39.76; 4. Jonathan Vega, Progreso, 16:42.50;5. Griffin Neal, Wimberley,16:43.72;6.Orlando Oliverto, Pleasanton, 16:48.69;7.Gerardo Gallardo, Progreso,16:55.39;8.Carlos Romero, Boerne,16:56.21;9. Isaiah Delagarza, Liberty Hill, 17:03.50; 10. Zaine Leal, Pearsall, 17:06.32
TOP 10 BOYS 5A
1. Williams Mancias, PSJA Memorial, 15:42.77; 2. Guadalupe Reyes, Mercedes, 16:05.48; 3. Philip Metcalf, Austin Johnson,16:08.11; 4. Albino Rodriguez, Edcouch-Elsa, 16:11.23; 5. Foster Wilfong, Boerne Champion, 16:12.97;6. Christian Castillo, Corpus Christi Tuloso-Midway, 16:15.73;7. Ricardo Garcia, Eagle Pass Winn, 16:26.14; 8.Cody Fountain, Gregory-Portland, 16:27.17; 9. Caleb Lopez, Dripping Springs,16:27.48; 10. Christopher Martinez, Boerne Champion, 16:27.73
* 14.Samuel Martinez, Donna, 16:32.23
TOP 10 BOYS 6A
1. Victor Zuiniga, San Antonio Johnson,15:51.35; 2. Ramsey Moreno, Edinburg Vela, 15:53.28; 3. Jeremey Nino,Edinburg Vela,15:56.13; 4. Taj Lee, San Antonio Johnson,15:56.52; 5. Hector Solis, PSJA NORTH,15:59.26; 6. Joaquin Medina, San Benito, 16:02.49; 7. Jesus Mora,Donna North,16:05.27; 8. Jakob Love,San Antonio Lee, 16:06.27; 9. Freddy Calvillo, La Joya Juarez-Lincoln,16:07.53; 10. Jorge Ponce,Donna North,16:09.19
*17 Hunter Herrera,McAllen,16:22.26;
*18.John Abrego, Brownsville Hanna, 16:22.27
TOP 10 GIRLS 4A
1. Jaci McGregor, Salado, 11:26.82, 2. Zaila Smith, Liberty Hill, 11:42.63; 3. Ayanna Donwerth, Liberty Hill,11:44.38; 4. Ashlyn Royal, Wimberley, 12:03.52; 5. Kyra Gaddy, Johnson (Buda), 12:11.59;6. Marina Villanueva, La Feria, 12:17.30; 7. Veronica Moreno, Gonzales, 12:17.88; 8. Briana Roberson, Churchill Fulshear, 12:19.63; 9. Anna Lesley, Salado, 12:21.76; 10. Karolyna Martinez, Pleasanton, 12:26.20;
* 12. Odette Fernandez, Grulla, 12:30.87;
*13.Kassandra Gonzales, Progreso, 12:31.63
TOP 10 GIRLS 5A
1. Kelsie Vicknair, Boerne Champion,18:46.91; 2. Emme Odonnell, Port Lavaca Calhoun, 19:08.95; 3. Maddie Livingston, Dripping Springs, 19:33.35; 4. Sophia Dale, Austin Johnson,19:33.69; 5.Samantha Gonzalez, Laredo Martin,19:42.26; 6.Trinity Warnicke, San Antonio Alamo Heights,19:43.89;7. McKenzi Popper, Austin Johnson,19:48.97; 8. Katie Houck, Boerne Champion, 19:49.35; 9.Grace Flores, Boerne Champion, 19:50.36; 10. Kate Williams, Boerne Champion,19:50.69
TOP 10 GIRLS 6A
1. Sara Scott, Spring Branch Smithson Valley, 18:40.97; 2.Elise Smoot, Austin Westlake, 19:05.71; 3. Kennady Fontenot, New Braunfels; 19:08.48; 4. Cassidy Beard, Austin Westlake, 19:12.62; 5. Abigail Parra, Buda Hays, 19:16.87; 6. Amity Ebarb, Weslaco, 19:17.66; 7. Valerie Garcia, Laredo United, 19:19.46; 8. Amalie Mills, Spring Branch Smithson Valley, 19:26.99; 9. Katie Crider, San Antonio Reagan,19:27.19; 10. Tessie Garcia, Weslaco East, 19:28.81
*Advancing to state individually