HIGH SCHOOL TRACK: El Paso area runners make clean sweep of distance spots

Athletes from El Paso made a clean sweep of regional qualifying spots in the 3,200-meters at the 1-6A/2-6A Area meet Friday at Ratliff Stadium on Friday.

El Paso Franklin’s Eva Jess set the pace for the girls with a time of 11 minutes, 18.63 seconds, while El Paso Eastlake’s Israel David placed first in the boys race, clocking in at 9:32.60.

David, like Jess, jumped ahead of the pack and led the entire race.

The rest of the girls’ regional qualifying spots were occupied by El Paso Eastwood’s Lauren Walls-Portillo, El Paso Franklin’s Alyssa Laspada and El Paso Montwood’s Kassandra Jimenez.

Competitors needed to place within the top four of their events to advance to the regional meet at Maverick Stadium in Arlington.

El Paso Franklin head coach Anthony Laspada was proud of the way his competitors finished the first race of the day.

“Hopefully we have a chance to continue this momentum into the evening,” Laspada said.

The El Paso Franklin girls made the four-hour drive to Odessa with a business trip mentality.

Their head coach hoped their performance set the tone for the rest of the team as the competition went on.

On the boys’ side, El Paso Coronado’s Luis Pastor placed second, followed by El Paso Eastwood’s Isaac Mendoza. His teammate Sergio Cuartas placed fourth in the 3,200 race to claim the final regional qualifying spot.

The main goal for El Paso Eastwood’s runners was to qualify for regionals. Head coach Mike McLain wants his athletes to save their best performance for next weekend’s meet.

“They ran the way I wanted them to run exactly,” McLain said. “Nice and relaxed and made sure they qualified.”

Odessa High School’s Adrian Lujan (7) brings up the front of a pack during the boy’s 3,200 meter race at the 1-6A/2-6A area meet Friday morning at Ratliff Stadium.
(Eli Hartman | Odessa American)

Although both coaches made a long trip to reach the area meet, the drive from El Paso to Arlington will be even longer at an estimated nine hours.

The regional meet will also feature an expanded field of teams. Only the top two finishers in every event will qualify for the state meet in Austin.

Before shifting his focus to the next competition, Laspada will prepare his qualifiers for the bus ride ahead. He will also look to clean up minor details with a shorter week of practice.

Managing stress and energy will be an area of importance in the short week for McLain and his runners.

“Most of the people, when they go to area, they don’t have to travel. Especially the people that we’re going to race next week,” McLain said. “The key is not being too tired with workouts and being too tired of travelling.”

Odessa High runners Jazira Perez and Angelica Palma placed seventh and eighth in the distance race, respectively. Perez finished with a 13:12.43 time, while Palma clocked in at 13:28.71.

Midland Lee runner Montana Mack placed fifth with a time of 12:44.81.

Permian runner Christian Chavez finished fifth in the boys’ race with a time of 9:50.65, while Odessa High’s Adrian Lujan placed sixth after clocking in at 10:02.29.

>> Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya