Region 4-3A Runner-up Pirates Cortez, Wagner, Andrade, Sanchez, Obando, Aguinaga, & Alvarez run for State Championship Friday

The Pirate and Lady Pirate XC teams after qualifying for State.

For an amazing fourth straight season, the Pirate Cross Country team represents Lytle at State Friday, November 5th. Lytle won the District 37-3A Meet in Poth on October 12 then followed up with a Region 4 3A runner-up finish at Regional in Corpus Christi on October 25.
Jose Cortez, Robert Wagner, Israel Andrade, Abel Sanchez, and Brandon Obando along with Jared Aguinaga and Johnny Rey Alvarez have their eyes set on standing on the main podium after the conclusion of their season’s biggest and final race of the season.
Head Coach Gilbert Ruiz and his Pirate team did not have a smooth sailing ship throughout the season as the injury bug definitely played a role on several of Ruiz’s runners.
“No group that I have coached has had to go through more setbacks with injuries than this year’s varsity boys,” Ruiz stated. “With four returning runners from last year’s 4th Place State finish and all having a great summer, we had high hopes of returning this year. But all four had to battle injuries just as the season was about to start with three of those sitting out all of September.”
Definitely a rough go for Ruiz and his team but they had several great accomplishments over the course of the season winning a few meets, and having several individual runners win or place in the top 10 in many races.
“Fortunately, they all started to run again in early October and have relied on their summer training, tradition, and their own grit to finally run as a full team again.” said Ruiz about finally having his entire squad healthy, and determined, at the right time of the year.
Cortez, a senior, led the Pirates with a 7th place finish at Regional, individual qualifier to State, and according to Ruiz will become the first Pirate runner to represent the Lytle Pirates at the State Meet in each of his four years of varsity competition.
Ruiz pointed out that Wagner put on a “gritty performance” placing 18th in Corpus. Not only was his performance his first meet since late August, he also helped pace their 20th place runner Andrade to aid in securing a lower point total.
“Sophomores Abel Sanchez (35th) and Brandon Obando (40th) finished the scoring and helped us as runner-ups after going in as a 6-7 seed,” Ruiz said about the final two of the five runners who tallied official team points in Corpus Christi.
Shout out
Coach Ruiz’s final words came to those that have stood side by side with him and his team as they have put together a terrific 2021 campaign. He said, “I want to thank the Lytle ISD community, the parents, and all the supporters that tolerated that weather (in Corpus) to witness something special. It was the first time all our participants came home with a medal from a Regional meet. They literally gave it their all for each other as we had 2 girls and 1 boy that had to be carried to the medical tent after the race for medical attention. What they did for each other was truly amazing.”
Good wishes
Best of luck to the Lytle Pirate Cross Country team as they race for gold at State on November 5 at 10:30am.
By Jerel Beaty
Staff Writer