BY STEFAN MODRICH
STAFF WRITER

The Brownsville Veterans Memorial Lady Chargers cross country team won its first ever District 32-5A title and the Edcouch-Elsa boys also punched their ticket to Corpus Christi with a first-place finish as a team last Thursday morning at the BISD Encampment.

“The girls have been working really, really hard,” Brownsville Veterans coach Jorge Medina said. “They practice together, and they’ve gotten to where they bond really well. And they all, thank God, just ran really well today.”

The Lady Chargers scored 25 points and placed four of their runners in the top 10, led by individual champion Valeria Gamez, who set a personal best at the 3.1 mile distance with a time of 18 minutes, 50.1 seconds. Cynthia Ramirez (19:40.7) finished in fourth place, Lauren Averyt (19:53) placed fifth, and Christina Pena rounded out the Brownsville Veterans lineup with an eighth-place finish and a time of 20:11.9.

“I’m so proud of my girls,” Gamez said. “We did really well.”

Second-place Edcouch Elsa (61 points) was paced by Vanessa Cerda, the bronze medalist who clocked in at 19:01.1. Teresa Aguilar (20:00.4) finished sixth and Adriana Aguilar placed 10th for the Lady Jackets, who earned a regional qualifying spot.

Donna High finished third, led by ninth-place finisher Giselle Trujillo, who turned in a time of 20:16.5.

Individual qualifiers who did not already secure a regional championship berth with at least a third-place finish in the team standings were silver medalist Estrella Medellin of Porter, who recorded a time of 18:57.1, and Lopez’s Kenya Gonzalez placed eighth with a time of 20:06.4.

Gamez and Medellin were neck-and-neck until the district champion began her kick in the final mile, creating a separation as she accelerated around the final curve of the course and sprinted straight to the finish.

“I didn’t want to lose,” Gamez said. “All the pain I felt, I had to ignore it. I had to go.”

In the boys division, Edcouch Elsa won the district title with 34 points, paced by individual champion Albino Rodriguez’s 15:29.9 in the 3.1 mile race.

Rodriguez overcame a slow start to overtake Brownsville Veterans’ Marcos Paredes, who led through the first mile before he slipped toward the back. Paredes finished 19th with a time of 17:31.

“A lot of us were kind of just chilling for the first mile,” Rodriguez said. “(We were) trying to see who would make a move. … Slowly, all of us started catching up, and once we got to (the first mile marker), some of us started making up the gap.”

The Yellowjackets also had four runners finish inside the top 10, including fifth-place finisher Dominik Medrano (15:42.8), Cristian Coronado (16:42.1) in eighth place, and Jaime Hernandez in ninth place with a time of 16:42.5.

Runner-up Donna High also had four top 10 finishers, recording 37 points and securing a regional berth. The Redskins’ Samuel Martinez earned the bronze medal with a 15:40.7, and Kevin Hernandez (15:42.5) and Erick Chavez (16:23.4) were not far behind him, checking in fourth and sixth place, respectively. Javier Calvillo was 10th, recording a time of 16:43.1.

The Charger boys were able to earn the final regional qualifying spot with a 91-point performance and had four runners finished inside the top 20, paced by Luis Hinojosa (17:07.2) in 15th place.