Deer Park, La Porte runners clinch Region III berths after shining at 21-6A meet
LA PORTE - The high school cross country runners have waited all season for weather like Thursday morning’s.
Cool, crisp temperatures to go with plenty of sunshine. That also describes the Deer Park and La Porte runners, who used crisp 5K times at Northwest Park to claim plenty of berths to the Region III meet in 10 days.
North Shore ran away with the District 21-6A boys championship, but Deer Park employed 49 points and La Porte 63 to grab coveted team berths to regionals.
In the varsity girls race, La Porte and Deer Park motored to first and second place with 30 and 57 points respectively, while North Shore garnered third with 63.
Despite spike problems on his left shoe, La Porte sensation Ryan Schoppe, who attended Fairmont Junior High, upped his perfect district championship streak to three with the sizzling time of 15:13.3.
“I was looking to break 15 but that didn’t happen. I was on pace for the first two miles but with nobody to run with, it kind of took a toll on my body and I slowed down. So it is what it is,” Schoppe said.
Schoppe wasn’t a great deal off from a sub-15 minute time. As he rounded the corner for the final long straightaway to the finish line on the park’s soccer fields, the junior’s time was still in the 14s.
That’s pretty good considering he was doing all he could to avoid the discomfort of a spike that was attempting to protrude into his foot.
“A spike was coming up through my shoe. I was running on the side of my foot for most of the race. It hurt. I think when I took a turn on it, it broke through. I felt it. It stabbed the inside of my foot,” said Schoppe, who uses non-spike shoes when he warms up.
“It was bothering him. He’s not one to normally complain about stuff. I’m just glad it didn’t do any damage there. He had a goal in mind today to try and break 15. It’s the first time we haven’t run in the mud in a while,” La Porte coach Zachary Johnson said.
As for Deer Park, the guys traveled 5-8-11-12-13 into the finish chute to keep their season alive. All five nabbed medals.
Robert Olvera started the parade of maroon and gold by registering the time of 16:47.9 and Jarrod Moreno was next at 17:08.8. Robert Gonzalez, Zach Diaz and Ethan Cortez produced times of 17:25.5, 17:31.1 and17:32.4.
Their finish was appreciated but fourth-place Beaumont West Brook was so far back with 131 points that this was one race where the fourth and fifth runners weren’t crucial to the victory.
In 15th place was Jonathan Martinez and 16th went to Mark Lopez.
After Schoppe, La Porte had Andrew Cornett secure ninth , Nicholas Gracia bagging 14th, Alviery Yanez logging 17th and Lucas Guerrero in 22nd. Oscar Lopez placed 23rd.
North Shore went 2-3-4-6-7 into the chute for its title points and the group was led by Jose Gonzalez and his 16:20.
The only runner from the other 21-6A teams to qualify for regionals was Baytown Sterling’s Robert King, who nabbed the 10th and final berth to regionals with a 17:22.8 time.
Deer Park’s girls earned their first trip to regionals in several years by garnering the places of 3-11-12-14-15.
“That was one of our strategies coming in. We wanted to push the pace and stay close together to put the points up and push the other places back. We knew La Porte was going to be pretty strong coming in here.
“We knew we had to finish top three with Phoebe (Villarreal) which she did and we needed the other girls to step in and try to get four and five of their runners. We were running a good pack. We actually had four, five and six taken care of but one of our girls fell ill there at the very end,” Deer Park girls coach P.J. Graham said.
After Villarreal’s 21:31.7, the Lady Deer packed very nicely with the group of Anissa Garza (22:41.4), Alessandra Palma (22:42.2), Roslyn Aquines (22:47.1) and Jayla Viator (22:47.1).
“I’m really proud of the girls. They worked hard this year. They came in with a good attitude and were ready to run a great race and they did. It was a much improvement from last year. I’m glad to take these girls to regionals,” said Graham, whose club finished fourth last October.
Graham loved Villarreal’s determination from some nagging injuries early in the season to claiming the third-best time at district.
“That was one of her best times this year. She was determined to finish top three and she did,” Graham said.
For La Porte, the streak continues. This marks the 10th straight year for the Lady Bulldogs to snag first place. They did it by going 1-2-5-9-13.
“Considering we had such a young team at the beginning of the season, I was worried. But you just have to set a standard for your girls. The objective was to run together. That’s how you’re going to be successful. If you run in a pack in cross country, you’ll be successful,” La Porte coach Carolina Rodriguez said.
Ciera Luna and Naomi Green were the leaders with times of 20:34 and 20:35. Iza Hernandez was fifth at 21:51, followed by Jalyn Lozano at 22:07 and Kayln Holloway at 22:44.9.
Also advancing was Channelview’s Darla Faz, who was fourth and Beaumont West Brook’s Ashton Valdez, who was eighth.