BY STEFAN MODRICH
MERCEDES — The Progreso boys had two key slots open in their varsity lineup due to injury ahead of their race in the Mercedes Invitational.
But the experienced Red Ants did as they have done all season long, relying on the next man up when necessary and earning a firstplace finish Saturday.
“We’re not a team that has one superstar,” Progreso assistant coach Ivan Gonzalez said. “We’re a team that has depth. We have a lot of strength in terms of our numbers, trying to stay together. When our second man pushes up, the third, fourth and fifth follow, and our No. 1 doesn’t want to let up.”
The individual winner in the boys varsity division was La Joya Juarez-Lincoln’s Freddy Calvillo. Hector Perales was the top individual finisher for the Red Ants, placing sixth. Jonathan Vega finished in 11th place for Progreso.
Gonzalez said Alex Pecina (18th place) and David Cervantes both recorded personal bests on the 3.1 mile grass course at Mercedes High School.
Checking in at fourth place in the boys and girls varsity team standings was Brownsville Hanna, which saw three of its boys place in the top 10.
John Abrego finished second and Felipe Parra was fourth, behind Mercedes’ Lupe Reyes. Marcos Tellez placed eighth for the Golden Eagles. Abrego and Parra steadily climbed from ninth and 10th, making their move around Mile 2.
Hanna coach Olaya Teran wanted the pair to lessen their pace slightly, a move that paid dividends when her top two runners surged into the top five. Parra said he beat his previous personal best by 20 seconds.
“From the beginning we knew who we wanted to keep up with,” Parra said. “(Reyes) and (San Benito’s Joaquin Medina) were the top two finishers at the San Benito meet. Obviously those were our guys, and we wanted to keep at them.”
Sharyland High’s Danielle Salinas picked up another individual victory, as the Lady Rattlers also prevailed atop the team standings. Finishing just behind Salinas was Brownsville Veterans Memorial’s Valiera Gamez.
Gamez, who found herself in a similar situation as that of the Hanna boys, was in the middle of the leading pack on the girls side. She was eager to put some distance between herself and her competitors.
“I knew I had to start in the front, especially at this race,” Gamez said. “When I started I was in fourth or fifth, and after that I was, like, ‘You have to go’, and I had to push myself to go further.”
Estrella Medellin placed third for Brownsville Porter, and Hanna’s Magali Osowski was 11th overall.
Official times were not made available by meet offi cials as of press time.
BOYS TEAM RESULTS
Progreso, 80; 2. McAllen Memorial, 86; 3. La Joya-Juarez Lincoln, 89; 4. Brownsville Hanna, 100; 5. San Benito, 163; 6. Economedes, 203; 7. La Feria, 232; 8. Edinburg High, 250; 9. Sharyland High, 279
Freddy Calvillo, La Joya-Juarez Lincoln; 2. John Abrego, Brownsville Hanna; 3. Lupe Reyes, Mercedes; 4. Felipe Parra, Brownsville Hanna; 5. Gerardo Munoz, IDEA Pharr; 6. Hector Perales, Progreso; 7. Ayden Granados, McAllen Memorial; 8. Marcos Tellez, Brownsville Hanna; 9. Jorge Perez; McAllen Memorial; 10. Daniel Lopez, La Joya-Juarez Lincoln; 11. Jonathan Vega, Progreso; 12. Jose Suarez; Edinburg IDEA; 14. Esteban Avila, Economedes; 14. Joaquin Medina, San Benito; 15. Raul Rojas, McAllen Memorial; 16. Hugo Chavarria, Edinburg IDEA; 17. Jorge Gutierrez, Sharyland High; 18. Alex Pecina, Progreso; 19. Sebastian Salinas, McAllen Memorial. 20. Luis Hinojosa, Brownsville Veterans Memorial
GIRLS TEAM RESULTS
Sharyland High, 39; 2. Economedes, 82; 3. Edinburgh High, 91; 4. Brownsville Hanna, 149; 5. La Feria, 162; 6. La Joya Juarez-Lincoln, 215; 7. San Benito, 250; 8. Donna North, 270
Danielle Salinas, Sharyland High; 2. Valeria Gamez, Brownsville Veterans, 3. Estrella Medellin, Brownsville Porter; 4. (not provided) 5. Dayan Lozano, Economedes; 6. Mel Marroquin, Edinburgh High; 7. (not provided) 8. (not provided) 9. Nancy Maldonado, La Joya Juarez-Lincoln; 10. (not provided) 11. Magali Osnaski, Brownsville Hanna; 12. Arianna Rodriguez, Harlingen South; 13. (not provided) 14 (not provided) 15. Jacqueline Medina, Edinburg High; 16. (not provided) 17. Audrey Chavez, Economedes; 18. Francesca Alvarado, Economedes; 19. Anahita Fuentes, IDEA Pharr; 20. Dianette Garcia, Economedes