When senior cross-country captain Anthony Molina said mistakenly at the first pep rally that his team were the 2017-2018 district champions, he probably didn't know he was stating an inevitability. He just meant to say "captains" instead of "champions." But his misstatement was dead on: that's exactly what they are.
Last year the team enjoyed similar amounts of success behind a team lead by superstar Daniel Bernal. The team was overall grateful to run alongside such a gifted runner, especially the younger members of the team who gained valuable experience from him. Sophomore Elias Perez and Sophomore Juan Olmos felt that by watching his hard work pay off that they could succeed.
“I know for myself I really looked up to him. I was able to see all the success that he was having due to all the hard work and dedication that he put into his running,” Perez said, “That showed me that if I truly worked hard and put in the work that the success would come soon.”
The younger members of the squad certainly showed out at the district meet, with Olmos finishing fourth place and Perez finishing sixteenth. Bernal and other factors motivated the team to succeed. Senior captain Gabriel Armijo knew the team had it in them the whole time.
“With all the success we saw him have at state and nationals, it motivated us to really want to qualify for Nike Nationals and it feels great because we knew we had it in us the whole time,” Armijo said, “Now everyone gets to see the finished product that we have been grinding all year to produce.”
Molina and Armijo finished first and second, respectively. Both were very humbled and hope to continue their success at the regional meet. However, they do not want to negatively affect the younger guys by being too overconfident.
“It was very humbling to be racing against powerhouse cross-country schools in Texas,” Armijo said, “We want to do our best and come out on top at state. With these younger guys looking up to us, to Anthony and me, I sort of think twice before I say something in front of them to make sure they aren’t negatively influenced by us being overconfident at times.”
Molina was also very humbled by his win. For him, it was a moving experience and valuable payoff after four years of arduous work which included hardships such as an injury and a lung infection. He was “untapped potential." Despite all that, he came out on top and is now the number one ranked boy in the district and the city, and ranked second in the region. This is a feeling that is both frightening and exciting for Molina.
“It feels really good, but at the time its really scary,” Molina said, “Everyone works hard to get to the top, but when you get here you have to work even harder to stay because you suddenly become the guy to beat. Not to mention that a lot of people start to look up to you. Overall, it's great and I'm really glad to have made it.”
Next in the teams’ sights is the regional meet on Oct. 23, where they feel they can do well if they maintain their focus on running for each other and not for themselves.
“Toward the beginning of the year, we were predicted not to do well because we lost four of our varsity guys,” Junior Eddie Gallegos said. “To prove to people that we can rely on each other, makes me feel that this team can accomplish a lot.”