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GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL CROSS COUNTRY: Odessa High repeats as District 2-6A champions - Odessa American: Oavarsity

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GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL CROSS COUNTRY: Odessa High repeats as District 2-6A champions

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Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2019 8:10 pm

The Odessa High girls cross country team wanted to make a statement at the District 2-6A Championships on a comfortable Thursday afternoon at UTPB Park.

By the time the last runner crossed the finish line, the statement made was the Lady Bronchos weren’t going anywhere.

Juniors Nathalia Escontrias and Odalis Lujan set the pace for Odessa High as it won its second straight district title with 50 points. Midland Lee (69) finished second and Amarillo Tascosa (79) was third to qualify for the Region I-6A Championships on Oct. 28 at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock.

Escontrias won with a time of 19 minutes, 50.25 seconds, followed closely by Lujan (19:51.38), who ran with her teammate step-for-step for nearly the whole race. Lillian Mueller and Farrah Creery, both of Tascosa, finished third and fourth.

Midland High’s Sarah Hernandez rounded out the top five and teammate Kari Tate finished just behind in sixth, while Wolfforth Frenship teammates Audrey Allen and Emma Lopez finished eighth and tenth, respectively, to all earn spots at regional.

Permian finished sixth (108) in the team standings. Raeley Howard (21:36.25) finished 16th to set the pace for the Lady Panthers.

“I just wanted to really focus on just dominating and trying to finish near the top so I could help my team,” Escontrias said. “I’m definitely proud for what we did winning another district championship.”

Thursday’s win also marked the second year in a row that Escontrias won the individual title. Her accomplishment was even more impressive considering she had been sick for the last few days leading up to district.

Having Lujan running alongside her gave her plenty of encouragement to push through despite not being 100 percent.

“I was just really proud of Odalis today and being able to run right beside me,” Escontrias said. “I didn’t want to push as hard just because I’ve been sick but she really did well and pushed me even harder.”

The runner-up finish marked a major step forward for Lujan after finishing third last week at the Odessa Invitational. Both runners noticed that they were able to create plenty of distance from the rest of the field and Lujan’s attention turned to finishing strong alongside her classmate.

“Nathalia is our fastest runner so my goal was to just stay with her,” she said. “Being able to keep pace with her showed me that I was doing well also.”

Having two Odessa High runners at the top was great to see for head coach Ricky Santiago, who was also pleased to see the rest of the team step up.

“They’ve been working hard to get to this point,” Santiago said. “Nathalia has been sick the last few days and I was checking with her to see if she would be good. She ran a tremendous race today. I also told Odalis that she could run with Nathalia and she was great as well.”

Santiago was more impressed with how the team handled the pressure of entering the race as defending champions.

“I told the kids that we didn’t have an excuse not to win this again,” he said. “I told them that we got the target on our back and they’re going to be hunting us down and with teams like Frenship and Midland Lee running well, I got nervous.”

Santiago remembered what happened the last time the District 2-6A Championship race was held in Odessa back in 2017. The Lady Bronchos won the Odessa Invitational the week before only to miss qualifying for regional the following week.

“We thought that we were going to walk through and get to regionals,” he said. “Everything fell apart that year and we didn’t qualify that year. It was a sick feeling to have after that and it stuck in my mind.”

The first part of that scenario happened again in 2019, but that worry went away when the final results came in and history did not repeat itself and the Lady Bronchos walked away as district champions again. The season keeps going for Odessa High and the team looks to capitalize on the momentum in Lubbock.

“We were just focused on pack running and staying with each other,” Lujan said. “I want to keep building off of this and see if we get a chance to get a whole team to state.”

Odessa, TX

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