HARLINGEN — They rushed forward in the late morning sun, faces flushed with heat and sweat, lungs heaving with air.

The young enlistees had congregated from throughout the Valley yesterday for the Marine Corps Recruiting Station San Antonio Regional Pool Function.

They gathered next to the tennis courts at Marine Military Academy to demonstrate their fitness, their readiness, for boot camp.

“It was great. We were very competitive,” said Trinidad Leal, third squad leader at the station for the Harlingen recruits.

Sgt. Guadalupe Campos, marketing and public affairs chief at the recruiting station in San Antonio, said about 250 enlistees had come to the event.

“This is to see where they are,” Campos said.

Upon arrival for boot camp, enlistees must meet minimum standards for pushups, pullups, crunches and the 1 1/2 mile run.

If they don’t meet those requirements at boot camp, they will not be allowed to continue their training, said Staff Sgt. Frank Castaneda. He’d been holding weekly physical fitness sessions.

“We’re getting them ready for the physical, mental and emotional rigor of training,” said Castaneda, recruiter for the Harlingen station. He’d brought 55 recruits.

“They did extremely well,” he said. “They are going to get first and second place. They got second place in crunches.”

Every recruit had his or her special challenges. Zenaida Araujo’s challenge was the pushup.

“I have very little arm strength,” said Araujo, 18, first squad leader for the Harlingen trainees.

How does she work on her pushups?

“Powerlifting,” said Araujo, of Brownsville.

Two bright medals hung from her neck. One was for being the most physically fit female. The other was for doing 130 crunches in two minutes, more than anyone else training that day.

Pride was clearly written on her face.

“Everyone is very motivated, very competitive,” she said.

Crunches presented the greatest difficulty to Leal, 18, a graduate of Los Fresnos High School. He challenged this event so well he performed 80 of them.

“I decided to join the Marine Corps because I wanted to challenge myself,” he said. “College wasn’t for me. I’ve been going to PT every Thursday.”

Each recruit had his or her own challenges, difficulties that had confronted them for quite some time. They seemed ready to face them as long as necessary to obtain victory.