Pirate Cross Country runners JoseCarlos Hernandez, Jose Cortez, Robert Wagner, Gregorio Alcorta, Abel Sanchez, Brandon Obando, Daniel Mercado, Eisabel Guerrero, and (if not for an injury sustained at Regional) Kyle Mueller capped off a great 2020 season in Round Rock at the State Meet on Monday, November 23rd.
Finishing the season at State was a tremendous feat in itself after the season not only began but also continued with the COVID-cloud hanging over its head.
Head Coach Gilbert Ruiz and Assistant Coach Hadley Foster, Jr. did a fantastic job leading their student-athletes under difficult circumstances.
“The lads and lady completed a season which was always one step away from never happening. Other states cancelled their seasons, postponed their seasons or had major changes for their season. On the 100th year of the UIL, the leadership of the organization fought for the athletes and gave them an opportunity to compete. Compete we did and Coach Ruiz in his guidance limited our venues of competition to four sites for nine races.
Eisabel Guererro began the day for Lytle by qualifying for the second year as a State qualifier. Even though the race is two miles you can tell much by how the runners start. After 800m, Eisabel was about 60th. It is hard in a race of State-caliber runners to make up ground. Eisabel battled and was 58th after the mile. She finished in 49th place out of 128 girls with a time of 13:08. Eisabel battled to the end and fought nagging pains and injuries all year.
The boys’ team came into the meet with a prediction of finishing no better than 8th according to Texas Mile Split projections but had their sights set for better. We began the year with four seniors, two juniors and one sophomore, which Coach Ruiz had penciled in to take us to the state meet.
We got off to a great start with every boy close together at the 800 m. At the mile we were keeping pace with a fast pace with every boy between 4:56 and 5:12 for the first mile. However, the race is 5K or 3.2 miles. The lads placed just out of medal position placing fourth with 135 points, 32 points away from 3rd place Whitesboro.
The senior boys began as seventh graders finishing fourth in the district and they walk away as seniors being fourth in the State. Over their four years, they have accumulated three straight district titles, two straight Region IV titles, and in their sophomore year they walked away with a third place State medal.
For three years they ended their season at State, finishing 3rd, 6th and 4th. They have set the bar higher for Lytle Cross Country and we in the Cross Country Family appreciate all their hard work over their six years of service.
It was the longest season I can remember. The State meet was held two weeks later than usual. We have been training since June except for a couple of COVID interruptions. This season could not have been possible without the support of so many people.
Mrs. Smith’s administrative support and the support throughout the district academically made tough decisions, which allowed us to continue to compete. Coach Lori Wilson’s support and her backing on all the practice and safety issues we implemented. Coach Jones kept us supplied with sanitation wipes and liquids in addition to scheduling our athletes for training help. We joke with the athletes that we will give them a parade and this year the parents support in goodie bags and send offs in front of True Value allowed us to fulfill our word of giving them a parade.
For fifteen years I have watched Coach Ruiz set a standard of excellence for a program where many said success could not be achieved. I have seen tough choices made because the standard of excellence is the requirement for all our runners.
If the qualification of the top four teams had been used in 2006, Lytle would have been represented in the State meet 8 of 14 years. Since 2006, we have been a consistent top 20 team. Yes, we had a good season but we are Lytle Pirates and as Pirates we want Gold. Take what we can and give nothing back. We will be back next year to defend our Regional Title and bring back gold. This is who we are and what we expect.”
I personally would like to thank Coach Ruiz and Coach Foster for their weekly submissions. In my opinion, they go above and beyond recognizing not only their outstanding program but also getting much deserved press for the runners who put in so much work to be the best.
Congratulations to the Lytle Cross Country program and to all who supported it through the 2020 season.
15th JoseCarlos Hernandez 16:27, 23rd Jose Cortez 23 16:36, 34th Robert Wagner 16:48, 66th Gregorio Alcorta 17:21, 96th Abel Sanchez 17:54, 109th Brandon Obando 18:16, 121st Daniel Mercado 19:54.
By Jerel Beaty