For the second year in a row, Grasiela Navarro has qualified for the state cross country meet.
She won the Decatur Invitational, Southwest Christian Meet and District 7-4A cross country meet this season, but with all of those accolades under her belt, Navarro has just one thing on her mind — running her best race of the year at the state meet Saturday at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.
The Fort Worth Arlington Heights senior is being recruited by top schools, including LSU and Oklahoma State, and has already been offered a full scholarship to Texas Wesleyan. Arlington Heights coach Andy Acuna said she has meant a lot to the program.
“Four years ago, I had some really good cross country runners, but she was the one that really took it over the top,” Acuna said. “She has gotten the program to where it is now, which is getting runners to Austin. That’s the ultimate goal.”
Navarro, 18, finished eighth at the Class 4A regional meet last week in Lubbock with a time of 18 minutes, 22.80 seconds, and she has helped lead the Yellow Jackets to the last four of its their six consecutive district cross country team championships.
“She’s always in top five wherever we go,” Acuna said. “Whether it’s [Flower Mound] Marcus, Southlake Carroll, or any of the big meets, she’s always right there in the pack with the top runners.”
Acuna said he recognized Navarro’s talent in distance running her sophomore year, when she missed qualifying for the state meet by one place.
Navarro said she is looking forward to competing in the state meet, but added that there is some anxiety as well.
“I’m very nervous,” Navarro said. “But I’m confident, because my coach has trained me well these past four years, and I’m ready to show what I’ve got.”
The fact that she and teammate Ivan Hernandez will be the only two runners representing Fort Worth is not lost on the Arlington Heights senior, either.
“I’m just happy that I can make it there to represent my school and everybody in Fort Worth,” Navarro said. “I just want to go out and run my race, and do the best I possibly can.”
For the sophomore Hernandez, a top-10 finish is the No. 1 objective.
“It’s going to be tough,” Hernandez said. “But bringing it home for my team would be great. It feels really good for me to be this young and have had the type of success I’ve had, and with the workouts we’ve had, there is almost no way not to get good. … I feel like I’m ready.”
Hernandez ran a time of 15:56.10 to qualify for state, also finishing eighth at regionals.
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