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The Veterans Memorial High School (VMHS) boys cross country team has been making history a lot lately. Two weeks ago, they became the first boys cross country team in the school’s 10 year history to win a district championship.
Coach William Proctor’s team advanced to the regional meet in San Antonio last week where they became the first VMHS cross country team to win a regional championship and earn one of 12 highly coveted spots at the state meet in Round Rock tomorrow.
As the VMHS boys cross country coach for all but the first two years of the school’s existence, Proctor is now seeing his runners’ hard work pay off.
“I’m very proud of this team,” said Proctor. “We’ve been working very hard and it was our goal for the season to win the district championship. I’m glad that we were able to make history for the school by earning its first district championship.”
The VMHS boys competed in seven meets this year leading up to the district meet. In those meets Proctor noticed steady improvement from week to week.
“In most of the meets we ran prior to the district meet, we ran in the elite division which includes a lot of the better 5A schools,” explained Proctor. “I think we ran well in those meets. We improved every week and I saw a really big improvement right before district so I knew that going into the district meet the guys were going to run well.”
With 24 schools competing at the regional meet and only the top three earning the right to advance to state, Proctor and his boys had their sights set on earning one of those three slots.
“Our goal at the regional meet was to get third and qualify for the state meet,” said Proctor. “We showed up over there and the boys ran great. We ended up getting first so we’re very happy about the results.”
As the only team at the Region IV Class 4A meet to finish with six runners in the top 50, VMHS took the regional championship with a team score of 117 points. That was 22 points ahead of two second place teams Mercedes and Boerne Champion. The Patriots’ top six finishers were junior G.J. Reyna, 9th place (15:25.04:58); junior Jose R. De Ochoa, 14th place (14:495:06); junior Martin Garcia, 29nd place (16:10.55:13); freshman Eric Chavez, 43rd place (16:28.75:19); sophomore Fabian Garcia, 55th place (16:37.15:22); freshman Jesus Mata, 57th place (16:38.05:22); and freshman Alvaro Mendez, 98th place (17:17.25:35).
In cross country the team scores are determined by adding up the placings of the top five finishers. The lower the score a team gets the better. Having upset district favorite Mercedes the week prior, Proctor knew that getting the better of the Tigers for the second week in a row and going head-to-head against other meet favorites would make finishing in the top three difficult.
“For me it was a close race,” said Proctor. “Mercedes was right on us the whole race. I didn’t know exactly how it was going to turn out at the end, but they scored 139 to our 117, so to me that was pretty close.”
“We were expecting Cedar Park and Boerne Champion to be real tough teams at regionals,” added Proctor. “Even we were surprised by the results. But the boys have been working really hard, so it’s certainly well deserved.”
Even though only the top five finishers’ results count towards the team score, all eight of the Patriots’ runners will be traveling to Round Rock today to compete at the state meet tomorrow.
“The state meet’s going to take place at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock this Saturday. We’ll be running again at 12:10 p.m.,” explained Proctor.
La Joya, Palmview and Other Runners
Two other Big 6 schools’ runners will be going for the gold at the state meet this weekend. La Joya High’s Michael Guerrero and Palmview’s Carlos Jaime earned that right by finishing second and fourth, respectively, at the Region IV 5A meet.
As for other local schools’ top boys finishers at the regional meet, Esteban Munguia was Mission High’s top finisher (21st place) and Rene Guillen was Sharyland’s top finisher (26th place). The Palmview boys team placed fifth at regionals while Sharyland placed eighth.
Sharyland girls placed fifth at the 5A regionals with Lizette Chapa and Maria Isabel Mendoza earning 14th and 20th places, respectively, for the Lady Rattlers, while the Palmview Lady Lobos team placed 11th with Mia Hinojosa placing 36th and Natali Gonzalez placing 42nd. The Mission girls team placed 26th at the regional meet with Aminta Flores (34th) and Ashley Diaz (40th) earning the Lady Eagles top two finishes.
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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.