Despite youth, Harlingen looks to compete in 2019

HARLINGEN—The Harlingen Cardinals hit the ground running this summer and are eager to put last year’s turbulent season behind them.

With the cross country season right around the corner, Big Red will rely on their sophomore and junior-heavy squad in 2019.

“We were young last year and this year again we are really young,” said cross country coach Efrian Ambriz. “A lot of these kids ran for us last year so they have experience. Last year I don’t want to call it a rebuilding year but it was a learning experience for us.”

The Cardinals only lost one senior to graduation and will have plenty experience from underclassman in the form of twin brothers Ivan and Able Montante and Gionvani Cisneros, who all look to carry the load for Harlingen this fall. The unique thing is Harlingen has no seniors on their current roster.

As for the Montante twins, these offseason workouts have been their first full set with the program and is something coach Ambriz has high hopes for in 2019.

“I was after them last year to get them to come run for us,” Ambriz said. “The bug finally hit them and they decided to come out and run. Really they joined us when the season started and they didn’t run with us in the summer, so this is their first full year in the program and I think you will see those things pay off during the season.”

Two years ago was the last time the Cards brought home the District 32-6A title. Last year, it was Brownsville Hanna winning both the boys and girls district crowns.

Ivan Montante, who is in his second year as a runner and also plays soccer in the spring, sees last year as an anomaly and is looking to right last year’s wrong.

“Last we did alright but we definitely could have stepped it up a notch when it came to district,” Montante said. “We didn’t do as good, so this year, we are hoping to put it all together and win the district.”

On the girls side, the Lady Cards also are back in the swing of things. And much like the boys side, the Lady Cards looking for a district title and hoping to rebound after a rough 2018 season.

Providing a boost will be incoming junior Rebeka Jimenez, who plays soccer as well as cross country.

Jimenez has run cross country since seventh grade and is back to full strength after suffering a stress fracture on her right leg early in the season.

Jimenez managed to play through the injury and didn’t realize she had suffered it until the end of the season.

“I just kept running and right now, I feel great,” Jimenez said. “I’m ready for this upcoming year and as the days go the easier the practices get for us.”