Looking for reasons as to why EHS dominated the district cross-country meet, scoring the somewhat rare honor of a team and individual championship? There are several, from a burst of emotion from new uniforms, a rigorous training regimen, a re-dedication after a midseason slump, and a masterful race-day performance under pressure.

Bottom line, the Lady Bobcats are No. 1, for the second time in three seasons on the path. Coach Tencha Lancaster was still fired up Wednesday, four days after the awesome display over in Harlingen, saying that her girls put it all together at the best possible time.

“We’ve been having a good season overall, but then there was that bad run at the Meet of Champs,” said Lancaster, in his third season at the helm after returning to the sport from retirement. “But I think they learned some things from that meet and they were able to do all the things they needed to do. When I saw all those girls up there afterward, getting their medals, I was like, ‘Wow…just wow.’”

Claiming five of the top 10 finishers, the EHS squad now prepares for regionals, to be run in San Antonio next week. That includes first-place runner Beckah Rodriguez, the multi-sport star who came home in 12:01.66 to pace the field.

“She has really worked hard, considering she’s in volleyball half the time,” said the coach, who added that she is working with contacts at the college level to see if there is a place for Rodriguez there; she believes there is. “She went with the other girls for about a half-mile, then she just got tired of waiting and took off. And when she finished, Beckah wasn’t even that tired!”

Rodriguez and Audrie Vela (fifth, with North star Jenyse Vazquez fourth) are the only seniors for this talented program, meaning that next year could be as fine. But for now, it’s off to SA, with confidence and yet humility.

“We were celebrating, and we were intimidating in our new bright red uniforms,” Lancaster laughed. “But it wasn’t an in-your-face thing, the girls were just excited about what they were able to accomplish. They earned back some respect after the Meet of Champs. They knew that the other teams didn’t beat them then, they beat themselves.”

Lancaster said that getting first in team and individual competition is something to be proud of, and that it’s a mark of consistency and excellence.

“Last year we never ran the same girls form meet to meet but this year we have been better at dedicating ourselves and putting in the time it takes to be successful,” she noted. “I juggled the list a little this time, to get the girls who were mentally toughest on the course. I needed the kids who were going to perform.”

The result of all the preparation was a rush of color at the finish line. All red.

“The girls wanted to get them, so we did,” the coach said about the new togs. “The other teams seemed to be in awe of them in a way.”

Lancaster praised Vela for “really stepping it up” when she had to, noting that, “Audrie knows that as a senior, this is it for her. She was totally focused on the race.”

Freshman Laura Mendoza also came in for special commendation from the leader, along with former JV standout Dulce Lopez, who earned a spot on the big team with a great late rush this month.

As they get set for the regional meet, where the top three teams and best 10 individuals advance to state, the Lady Bobcats volunteered over the weekend at the Great West Conference championships, hosted by The University of Texas-Pan American at Los Lagos Country Club. This civic engagement is part and parcel of the team’s seriousness when it comes to running.

“They have worked hard, overcome some obstacles, and proven that they can stay focused and run a great race,” concluded Lancaster. “They trained together, they raced together, and hey, they finished together, too!”

NOTES: The North girls came in second and advanced to the regional meet as well. Vazquez, who went to state last year, was the lone Lady Coog in the top 10.

On the boys’ side, North took the team crown with EHS third, with Cougar Luis Reyes continuing his fine season with a winning time of 16:19.90.


GIRLS TEAM: 1. EHS; 2. North; 6. Econ

INDIVIDUALS: 1. Beckah Rodriguez, EHS 12:01.66; 4. Jenyse Vazquez, North 12:19.68; 5. Audrie Vela, EHS 12:29.74; 6. Evelyn Aranda, EHS 12:33.71; 7. Laura Mendoza, EHS 12:34.21; 10. Yvonne Zerda, EHS 12:37.06; 11. Kimberly Burgoa, North 12:41.90; 12. Katia Romero, EHS 12:50.91; 13. Arianna Lumbreras, North 12:54.75; 15. Dulce Lopez, EHS 12:56.86; 16. Elisha Sanchez, North 12:58.81; 19. Gladys Ibarra, Econ 13:07.68

BOYS TEAM: 1. North; 3. EHS

INDIVIDUALS: 1. Luis Reyes, North 16:19.09; 4. Jeremy Castaneda, EHS 16:49.09; 6. Adrian Coronado, North 16:54.49; 7. Joe Rodriguez, North 16:54.62; 9. Omar Trujillo, EHS 17:06.37; Isaac Chavez, North 17:38.65; Louie Gonzalez, North 17:40.37; Ruben Gonzalez, EHS 17:45.24