Consistency paid off for the Progreso Red Ants, and it led them to a third-place finish at the UIL State Cross Country Championship held on Saturday in Round Rock.
“It was a big meet and they came back with medals,” Progreso head coach Ivan Gonzalez said.
The Red Ants went into the competition with their sights on winning the first-place trophy, and they kept their game plan the same as every race they compete in.
“We didn’t want to break the tradition of what got us here,” said Gonzalez, whose team won six meets this year. “The team entered the race relaxed and executed the plan they had to try and win the race.”
Three Red Ants finished in the top 50, led by senior Jonathan Vega, who finished 23rd with a time of 16 minutes and 6.3 seconds. Senior Gerardo Gallardo came in 26th with a time of 16:11.4. Rodolfo Sandoval followed up in 39th in 16:28.5.
“Fortunately we were able to get third place,” Gonzalez said. “We didn’t have a superstar; we had a consistent team that worked hard.”
The Red Ants boys’ team had advanced to the Class 4A state championship 11 times before heading into the Saturday competition that pitted them against 151 of the fastest runners in the state in the 5,000-meter run.
In 2017, the Red Ants finished second at state. In 2018, they finished fourth.
“Gosh, we’ve finished in every place except the first one,” Gonzalez said. “Hopefully next year we bring back a good group.”
The Red Ants will lose four key runners to graduation from this year’s team in Jonathan Vega, Gerardo Gallardo, David Cervantes and Samuel Cerda. They make up the team’s first, second, sixth and seventh runners, respectively.
“They guys who are coming back are real excited because they have even more to prove because we didn’t get to accomplish what we wanted to accomplish,” Gonzalez said about the team’s drive to win it all. “We’re going to have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what we have to do to hopefully get the result that we want.”
MERCEDES’ REYES FINISHES 75TH
Mercedes senior Guadalupe Reyes went for it all in the Class 5A competition.
At the sound of the starting gun, Reyes shot out of the pack and hit the first mile with the speed of 4 minutes and 45 seconds. His goal was to finish in the top 10, but he wasn’t able to get past higher than the eighth position.
He hung around with the top 10 runners in Class 5A up until the two-mile marker.
“He was going out there to be in the top 10,” Mercedes head coach Pete Martinez said. “He was doing well, and the last half mile he was done.”
Reyes finished 75th overall with a time of 16:15.4 and competed against 152 runners in the Class 5A 5,000-meter race.
“His ultimate goal was to medal in state, and he went for it all,” Martinez said. “He just fell a little short.”
SHARYLAND HIGH GIRLS PLACE EIGHTH
Going into state, sophomore Danielle Salinas helped lead the Sharyland High girls cross country team to another district championship and a third-place finish at the regional meet in Corpus Christi. On Saturday, she finished 21st overall with a time of 18:45.5. The Rattlers raced against 150 runners and finished eighth overall with 206 points.
MISSION’S ARRIOLA LEADS ALL VALLEY 6A GIRLS
After clinching a spot to race in the state tournament at the regional in Corpus Christi, Mission High’s Leila Arriola found herself finishing state in the top 50 with a speed of 18:40.7. She placed 45th overall. Following close behind her were Weslaco East’s Tessie Garcia in 51st with a time of 18:44.0 and Weslaco High’s Amity Ebarb, who finished 65th with a time of 18:58.0.
IDEA EDINBURG WINS STATE
IDEA Edinburg cross country team captured the Texas Charter School Academic and Athletic League State Cross Country Championship held Nov. 2, in Georgetown, Texas. The team is seen standing left to right with their team trophy beginning with head coach Tomas Martinez, Javier Pena, Uziel Vasquez, Isai Garcia, Joel Solis, Fabian Garcia, Jose Suarez and Hugo Chavarria. The team won three invitational meets heading into the state championship.