2018 High School Track and Field Season Preview
By: HENRY MILLER
(EDCOUCH) — The bar is set high for the Edcouch-Elsa boys and girls track teams, especially the pole-vaulting bar.
Bianca Cardenas and Carlos Guerrero are among the favorites this year to not only win the district title but to also reach the state championship meet and possibly bring back something their vaulting coach Jaime Ochoa has – a state championship ring.
“They have one of the best coaches in the state in my opinion,” said EE boys head coach Victor Cardenas, who is the father of Bianca. “He starts them off young, teaches them well and it shows with the results they come back with.”
Guerrero finished third in regionals last year, just one spot shy of heading to state. He was part of the freshman team that won the district title and had a personal record of 14-feet, 6-inches last year which he expects to shatter this this season.
“He was just a freshman last year and he’s bigger, stronger and faster this year,” Cardenas said. “We’re expecting a lot of good things from him this year.”
“Guerrero and Bianca Cardenas work together and push one another,” the boys coach said.
They also went to summer camps together.”
Bianca is a two-time district champion and the defending area champion. She finished fourth in regionals and head coach Juan Aguinaga expects her to “pass that and into the state meet.”
He is also expecting great results overall in the district, coming off a surprising third-place finish in the district meet last season.
“We were in the hunt all the way to the end,” he said. “We had one athlete who got hurt in the Meet of Champions and that made a different at the end. But nobody expected us to be contending with Mercedes and Brownsville Veterans with their army of athletes they bring.”
Other athletes he expects to shine this year include twin sisters Shana and Brianna Alvarado. Shana competed in the triple jump and long jump, which she qualified for regionals last year. Brianna competed in the long jump and pole vault and is also a part of the 4×100, 4×200 and 4×400 relays with her sister.
Shot Put and Discus thrower MacKenzie Contreras returns after qualified for the area championships last year as a freshman and Aguinaga says she could reach state this year.
Aguinaga also expects great results from his long-distance crew, headed by All-State Cross-Country qualifiers Haley Villapando and Natalie Mireles.
“I thought we lost a lot last year, but we are in a good position this year,” Aguinaga said. “Our relay group is stronger this year and older and we have an extremely young and talented distance group. We’re expecting another district run and the key is if we can get some points in other areas, we have to nickel and dime it – if we can’t get 10 points, get one – every point matters.”
On the other side of the equation, young is the only way to describe the boys’ team, a team that only has one senior on it.
Of course, there’s Guerrero on the pole vault – but he will also help in the 400 and is part of a large sophomore group that scored 161 points en route to the district title last year.
“The relay teams are pretty much all coming from that freshman team,” Coach Cardenas said. “We were building the foundation in the 4×100, 4×200 and 4×400 and now we will see the return we will get on that investment of sweat and hard work.”
The Yellow Jackets finished fifth in district last year, but Cardenas said that doesn’t mean they don’t have their eyes set on winning a district title – especially since the team has good experience and are still young.
“Last year we had a ton of freshmen and they were competing at an age of 14 against the likes of 17- or 18-year-olds. I loved the fact that they were up to the challenge and willing to compete,” Cardenas said. “They understood they may not win right away. But they kept working and investing the time and in the long run, it’s gonna pay off – We’re expecting it to pay off starting this year.”
John Michael Gonzalez is the lone senior and he will compete in the jump events as well as some of the relays. He’s been with the program for four years.
“We won’t settle for anything less than a district championship,” Cardenas said. “That’s always the goal. “Considering they are young doesn’t stop us from trying to reach our goals. We want to go on to regionals and compete and get a couple of athletes to state.”
“We don’t just want to be Valley fast, we want to be San Antonio and Austin fast.”