AP NEWS

Martin’s regional champ

October 30, 2016 GMT

CORPUS CHRISTI – Martin’s Abril Escamilla picked up her seventh straight victory Saturday winning the Region IV title. United South’s Berenice Armendariz also qualified for the state meet as 21 Laredo runners competed at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

The state championships are Nov. 12 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

Escamilla is the first Laredo female cross country runner to win the Class 5A Region IV meet.

She has won seven consecutive races including the District 31-5A meet a week ago.

Escamilla crossed the finish line at 19:21.9 and second place went to Boerne Champion’s Anna Norman at 19:32.

"We had crunched some numbers and she has been working very hard, she was focused and she knew what she had to do to get the job done,” Martin head coach Oralia Aguilar said.

“She paced herself very well and it worked out for her. Abril ran a smart race and was able to come in first."

Earlier in the season Escamilla had mentioned she was aiming for a state berth but she never expected to be the regional champion after being ranked third coming into the meet.

"This morning I arrived to the meet and I just thought to myself, ‘I am coming in here and I am just going to give everything,’" she said.

"I was aiming for a top 10 finish, just to make it to state, but I never thought that I was going to come in here and win the championship."

For the first mile there were numerous lead changes as Escamilla was in fourth and then moved up to the third place spot, but the pace for her was too slow.

She started to pick up steam in the second mile and never looked back as Norman kept within striking distance.

"Coach told me to pace myself because you are not going to be in first place this time because of the greater competition at the regional meet," she said.

"In the second mile I just needed to start picking it up, if not I am not going to accomplish my goal of going to state.

That pace that they were running was too slow for me but I was also scared that I might burn out at the end.

In the third mile I was a little tired but I told myself, ‘I am already here, might as well finish it,’ and that has been my mentality all season long."

Escamilla finally started to open up the gap and for the last 800-meters she picked up the pace to give her a greater cushion as she raced towards Laredo history.

In the final straightaway it was only Escamilla and the finish line as she left everything on that course.

"I just felt that I needed to start picking it up because I did not know how close she was to me," Escamilla said.

"Every time that there is a straightaway, I tell myself give it everything and I just wanted to give everything that I had. Once I crossed that finish line, it was the greatest feeling in the world."

Armendariz was the dark horse heading into the regional meet after having an off district meet a week earlier.

She crossed the finish line in 12th place overall, but after the state team runners were taken out of the equation she moved to eighth in the individual standings to earn a state berth.

"At the beginning of the race I was just thinking that I could not let everybody down, especially coach (Juan) Salazar because he believed in ever since I came into the cross country program,” she said.

“I just want to make everybody who believed in me proud.”

Armendariz was the second runner from District 29-6A to cross the finish line behind Del Rio’s Megan Boenick who took second overall.

She becomes only the fourth female runner from United South to earn a state berth behind Julie Cantu (2001), Rainy Castañeda (2009-11) and Abby Madrigal (2014) who all went on to run at the college level.

"We were expecting good things from her," Juan Salazar said.

"At the district meet we knew that she was not feeling a 100 percent but today she did and no excuses. She ran a good race.

She ran a smart race and came in victorious at the end. Granted she came in 12th but she did well.

We are very proud of her and so glad for her that she is moving on to state as a junior."

In the 5A girls, Martin freshman Samantha Gonzalez took 29th in her first regional meet.

Cigarroa senior Leeroy Raya placed 47th in the boys’ division and Martin senior Marlon Amador took 109th out of 182 runners.

In 6A the United South girls place 13th out of 24 teams. Karla Resendez came in 36th and was trailed by Karla Flores (98th), Odalys Madrigal (117th), Ashlyn Rivera (163rd), Julissa Garza (177th) and Cristina Benavides (181st).

The United boys took 18th out of 24 teams.

Nicolas Martinez led the way in 53rd followed by Ruben Martinez (76th), Marcos Muñoz (86th), Tommy Muñoz (117th), Alejandro Cruz (151st), Abelardo Peralta (156th) and Gerardo Sepulveda (164th).

United South’s Alan Luna concluded his high school career finishing 65th. United’s Vanessa Gutierrez came in 49th and freshman Magaly Lopez took 113th in her first regional meet.

St. Augustine’s Zachary Jackson placed fourth at the TAPPS 5A state meet with a time of 16:36.4.

The The Knights placed 14th out of 28 teams.

Freshman Osvaldo Jimenez led the way for the Laredo Harmony Science Academy placing 38th out of 169 runners at regionals in Corpus Christi.

He finished in 19:11 and missed qualifying for state by only 12 positions.

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