At Old Settlers Park in Round Rock, Saturday, 107 of the best high school long distance runners from across the Lone Star State were off and running at the sound of the starter’s pistol signaling the start of the class 5A boys varsity cross country state championship race. Sixteen minutes, thirty-one and one tenth seconds later, Jose Jaime of Palmview High School crossed the finish line as the 39th best 5A runner in the state.
Having just completed his third year of running cross country for Palmview High School, Jaime has already attained a level of success that few high school athletes ever attain. Inspired by his sister and her coach, Jaime’s success began the very first year he ran cross country.
“I first started running cross country my freshman year when my sister Diana got me into the sport,” said Jaime. “She was in cross country when she was in high school. She introduced me to Coach Mendoza, who…was her coach too. He was the one that got me into the routine of running and he inspired me to run.”
Jaime credits Mendoza and his training program for his early success.
“When I was a freshman, Mendoza didn’t have all the runners for varsity and since I’d been training with him all summer he asked me to be on the varsity team,” said Jaime. “The first meet they had my freshman year was the RGV Classic and I came in second. Since then Coach Mendoza asked me to stay on the varsity. I’ve done well since my freshman year, but it was because of his summer training.”
Jaime finished off his freshman year by placing 32nd at the regional meet. As impressive as that finish was for a first year runner, Jaime knew he could do better.
“My sophomore year I won district and Michael Guerrero (La Joya High School) was the runner-up,” said Jaime. “We both qualified for regionals where I placed 7th. I also qualified for state that year where I placed 55th out of 110 runners.”
As a sophomore, Jaime saved his best for the meets that really mattered. The district meet, the regional meet and the state meet. As a result, he failed to win any meets prior to the district meet. In this his junior year however, Jaime found success early on in the season.
“I’ve done better this year. I won two meets before the district meet. I won the RGV Classic and the Edinburg Invitational,” explained Jaime.
Jaime attributes some of his success this year to his new coach Claudia Bazan and her coaching style.
“Her coaching style has helped me a lot,” said Jaime. “I used to tell her that I didn’t like her coaching style, but at the end it actually helped me out. I remember when I was first starting to workout with her I actually left one time because the workouts were hard and I didn’t want to do the work. But then I changed my mentality because I saw the other runners doing the workouts and they told me that it would help me out in the end.”
As a 15-year veteran of coaching girls cross country and track, Bazan took on the additional responsibility of coaching the Palmview boys this year. Having seen Jaime compete since his freshman year, Bazan knows that he’s the type of runner that performs his best when it really matters.
“He’s that type of runner,” said Bazan. “He performs but he doesn’t shine at the smaller meets. But when he gets on the line, the other coaches and runners understand that they can’t write him off. He’s the kind of kid that’s going to step it up when it really matters.”
Bazan has seen Jaime accept more responsibility for the success of the team this year.
“This year he had a lot of weight on his shoulders because he understood the impact he could have on the team,” said Bazan. “This year he was more of a team runner as opposed to an individual runner. His goals really came in secondary as opposed to what he needed to do for the team.”
Jaime qualified for last week’s state meet by winning the District 30-5A championship for the second year in a row and by placing 3rd at the regional meet. As well as he did this year, Jaime has already set loftier goals for next year.
“My goals for next year are to be the district champion again,” said Jaime. “Hopefully I’ll win regionals next year because the two guys that are seniors will have graduated already. At state I want to get top 10.”
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.