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HIGH SCHOOL CROSS COUNTRY: OHS, Permian set to host Odessa Invitational - Odessa American: Sports

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HIGH SCHOOL CROSS COUNTRY: OHS, Permian set to host Odessa Invitational

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Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 5:50 pm

The cross country season is approaching the home stretch and both teams from Odessa High and Permian will prepare to get everything in order at the Odessa Invitational today at UTPB Park.

This will be the last tune-up before the District 2-6A meet October 11th in Amarillo.

“This is the time of the year where you make it or break it,” Odessa High girls cross country coach Tracey Borchardt said. “It should be a great meet for us heading into district.”

For both Odessa High teams, the 2018 season has revolved around the development of younger runners. Two of the top boys’ runners are underclassmen in freshman Mathew Ortiz and sophomore Adrian Lujan. Lujan says he gained confidence from the Lubbock ISD Coaches Classic on September 8 where he finished second.

“I felt like that we started doing better after that second meet,” he said. “A lot of us were nervous during the first meet but we felt faster and started gaining more confidence.”

On the girls’ side, sophomores Odalis Lujan and Nathalia Escontrias have both seen marked improvement from where they were at the start of the year.

“We got off to a bit of a rough start but we got it back together,” Lujan said. “I know the girls have achieved a lot and we’ve come so far by just giving it our all.”

One of the notable achievements for the girls’ team was taking home the team title at the Abilene Invitational and following that up with a second-place finish in Lubbock the following week.

For Escontrias, Thursday’s race serves two purposes — breaking her personal record of 20 minutes, 2.02 seconds from the Lubbock meet and showing out well at home.

“We’re a strong team and we want to show people what we have,” she said. “We’re motivated to come out and win our own invitational and get ready for district.”

At Permian, several new faces also have come into their own on the girls’ side.

Junior Sarai Quinonez admits that there were a lot of nerves during the team’s first meet in Midland back in late August, but she’s seen improvement as a runner.

“We’ve been better about being mentally tougher and physically stronger,” she said. “We just try to stay together and stay within each other.”

For all the new faces running for the Panthers, head coach Hilberto Ochoa has been pleased with how the upperclassmen have helped bring along the newcomers. For the girls, that task has been taken on by junior Brianna Harris.

“Brianna is someone that the girls look up to,” Ochoa said. “She’s got that experience and I think our other girls are about to start running their best meets.”

 “We’ve grown a lot from the summer to this point,” Harris said. “We have the potential to be district champions and am hoping we can show that potential.”

On the boys’ side, the defending District 2-6A champion Panthers are looking to get things right before traveling to Amarillo to defend their title.

Junior Joshua Garcia and senior Oscar Sotelo have practically been side-by-side in each of their three races this season. After finishing in the Top 4 at the Tall City Invitational in Midland, they took home Top 10 finishes at the Lubbock ISD Invitational back on September 22.

Both are eager to make a statement at a familiar venue.

“We just want to get our confidence up as a team before district,” Sotelo said. “We want to try to finish with great times and see if we can win another district championship.”

 “I’m looking at this race Thursday as a championship race,” Garcia said. “We practice there (UTPB Park) almost every day and we know where to make our moves.”

Having the home-course advantage is something that players and coaches from both schools admit will help. Now, it’s just about taking care of business.

“A lot of friends and family will be able to come out and that’s a big reason why we have it,” Borchardt said. “I’m hoping that we can use this meet to work on things as well.”

“There’s not much we can do other than just focus on what we can do,” Ochoa said. “I just want to see the team come together, do their best and put on a good showing heading into district.”

Odessa, TX

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