Santa Maria frosh takes girls’ individual title, Mercedes duo dominates boys race at Mercedes XC meet

MERCEDES — Top finishes at cross country meets are becoming a regular routine for Mercedes teammates Dominique Cavazos and Jonathan Reyes.

For the second straight week, Cavazos and Reyes finished a close first and second by a comfortable margin over the rest of the field. Their standout showings this time came at Saturday’s Mercedes Invitational.

Varsity boys and girls races were competed over a 5,000-meter course at the high school campus.

For the Mercedes teammates, past state qualifiers in track and cross country, it was the same 1-2 finish as last weekend at San Benito’s Dog Pound Invitational.

Cavazos, a junior, won Saturday in 15 minutes, 54 seconds as Reyes, a senior, came in close behind for second place in 15:59. Donna North’s Jesus Mora was a challenger to the two leaders for a little while before coming in third at 16:15.

Also for Donna North, Fernie Teran (16:23), Danny de la Cruz (16:30) and Leo Vasquez (16:32) came in fourth, fifth and sixth to help the Chiefs capture the boys team title in decisive fashion with 32 points. Mercedes was the boys team runner-up with 96 points. Progreso finished third with 105 points.

Although he won his race last weekend, Cavazos wasn’t all that pleased with his time at San Benito. He was more satisfied with it Saturday after running on his home course.

“I came in with a new ‘PR’ (personal record time), so I’m happy,” Cavazos said. “I definitely feel better about my time this week. It was a good race. I wasn’t expecting the runner behind us (Mora) to be as close as he was. It just pushed us to go faster in the last mile. It was an amazing race, and it just gives us more momentum for what’s ahead.”

Reyes said he thought it was an amazing race as well.

“We knew there was a guy close behind us, but we weren’t going to let him beat us on our home course,” Reyes said. “These finishes (at our first two meets of the season) are really getting us pumped up. We know (now) that we deserve to be up there with the top competitors (every week), and we’re just going to go out and show it.”

Perhaps the most impressive performance of the day came in the girls 5K race, where Santa Maria freshman Kristen Aleman won by a fairly comfortable margin in 20:01. The second-place finisher was Jasmine Rangel of Rio Hondo in 20:06.

It marked Aleman’s first varsity win. She competed in the junior varsity division last weekend at San Benito and placed second. That strong showing prompted Aleman’s coach to move her up to the varsity race this week, and the result was something remarkable.

Exhausted, Aleman gave it her all and almost collapsed after winning Saturday’s race. She gasped to catch her breath and was supported at each side by teammates after it was over as she staggered forward to the water machine and tried to remain upright.

“This feels awesome,” a revived Aleman said of her victory a few minutes later. “I saw this race as beautiful because I’ve never had that big of a lead before. It made me push harder than (the) JV (race at San Benito).

“I felt confident that I could take first,” she added. “As the race went on and I got into a comfortable pace, I felt more confident. I thought I could handle it (running varsity), and I did. This just builds my confidence and makes me think I can run varsity next week and get first again. Me and my teammates, we want to work harder at every meet and get stronger.”

Rounding out the top six finishers in the girls race, it was San Benito’s Lauren Rodriguez (20:07) in third, Harlingen South’s Mya Price (20:31) in fourth and her South teammates Lindsay Zamorano (20:40) and Genesis Cruz (20:48) in fifth and sixth, respectively.

The South girls captured their division’s team championship with 53 points, while Brownsville Hanna and San Benito finished second and third with 72 and 76 points, respectively.

Mercedes Invitational results

At Mercedes High School

Saturday’s results

5-kilometer course

Girls division

Team standings (top five) — Harlingen South, 53 points; 2. Brownsville Hanna, 72; 3. San Benito, 76; 4. Los Fresnos, 92; 5. Hidalgo, 136

Individual finishers (top 20) — 1. Kristen Aleman, Santa Maria, 20 minutes, 1 second; 2. Jasmine Rangel, Rio Hondo, 20:06; 3. Lauren Rodriguez, San Benito, 20:07; 4. Mya Price, South, 20:31; 5. Lindsay Zamorano, South, 20:40; 6. Genesis Cruz, South, 20:48; 7. Monica Hernandez, San Benito, 20:50; 8. Jasaline Ayala, 21:11; 9. Hillary Pina, Hanna, 21:18; 10. Brenda Garcia, Los Fresnos, 21:20; 11. Clarissa Tellez, Los Fresnos, 21:24; 12. Estephania Aviles, Hanna, 21:29; 13. Alyssa De La Garza, Hidalgo, 21:33; 14. Kayla Rodgers, San Benito, 21:36; 15. McKayla Guerra, San Benito, 21:39; 16. Cecilia Tellez, Hanna, 21:46; 17. Kimberly Trujillo, Hanna, 21:46; 18. Scarlett Salazar, Hanna, 21:48; 19. Cynthia Gutierrez, Los Fresnos, 21:48; 20. Arianna Garcia, Brownsville Pace, 21:49

Boys division

Team standings (top six) — 1. Donna North, 32; 2. Mercedes, 96; 3. Progreso, 105; 4. Hanna, 147; 5. Los Fresnos, 151; 6. La Feria, 163

Individual finishers (top 20) — 1. Dominique Cavazos, Mercedes, 15:54; 2. Jonathan Reyes, Mercedes, 15:59; 3. Jesus Mora, Donna North, 16:15; 4. Fernie Teran, Donna North, 16:23; 5. Danny De La Cruz, Donna North, 16:30; 6. Leo Vasquez, Donna North, 16:32; 7. Ever Esparza, Progreso, 16:36; 8. (no name, school, time turned in to meet officials); 9. Reyes Rodrigues, La Feria, 17:10; 10. Omar Anguiano, Progreso, 17:12; 11. Juan Castillanos, South, 17:13; 12. Julio Dragustinovis, Hanna, 17:14.49; 13. Eric Lopez, South, 17:14.86; 14. Brandon Herrera, Donna North, 17:16; 15. Bruce Delgadillo, Pace, 17:19; 16. Leonel Pena, Hanna, 17:22.08; 17. Alonso Vidal, Hanna, 17:22.64; 18. (no name, school turned in to meet officials), 17:26; 19. Curtis Rodriguez, La Feria, 17:30.55; 20. Joaquin Medina, San Benito, 17:30.99