Three Elgin runners competed in the regional cross country meet held in Huntsville on Monday, November 9. Led by Coach Hector Garcia, runners Mario Ruiz, Luis Araujo Reyes and Jaxon Larson matched themselves against dozens of other leading competitors from previous district meets.
Ruiz, who was the District 18 5A winner, finished in 18th place with a time of 16:47 seconds, Reyes in 19th place in 16:48 seconds and Larson in 77th place at 18:49 seconds. Winning time at the meet was by Dylan Sequeria from Magnolia at 15:18 seconds. None of the Wildcat runners will move on to the state meet, even though Ruiz just missed out by one spot from doing so. The good news is the Reyes and Larson will be back next year to carry on Elgin’s cross country tradition.
The girls' cross country team ended their season two weeks ago after the district meet.
Ruiz said even though this was the best overall season, it did not end the way he wanted it to at regionals. He felt the weather affected him more than he expected—it was extremely hot and humid—and he found himself in an unfamiliar place near the end of the race, where he knew he would need a strong finish to move on to state qualification; Ruiz ran in the state meet last year. With his final kick, he was able to pass several others in front of him but fell just short of qualifying to move on.
“I am devastated, but will use this failure to make major strides in my upcoming track season," Ruiz said. "I am looking forward to redeeming myself, but I am also very proud of myself and my teammates' accomplishments.”
Reyes said he wasn’t nervous at the regional meet. He too was disappointed he barely missed qualifying to move on, but is happy he has another season left to improve.
“We just have to continue working hard and push ourselves,” Reyes said.
Larson, a sophomore, called this season “one for the books.” The truly optimistic young man said he would wake up in the mornings and think, “I can’t wait to run today.” He knows he has time left in school to improve his running and has made a pledge to himself to keep running even after he graduates. He wanted to thank his parents, his coaches and his teammates for their support and he now looks forward to the upcoming track season.