Cross Country: Taylor Gutierrez repeats as 16-5A district champion


LUFKIN — Taylor Gutierrez is much like United States Mail carriers. Rain, brutal heat nor cold can stop either.

Running over a muddy course and in the rain, the Jacksonville High School senior, successfully defended her title as the District 16-5A girl's cross country champion by finishing in first place at this year's district meet in Lufkin on Thursday morning.

Gutierrez was clocked in 19:30.6 over the wet grass. Last year on a windy 45-degree morning in Jacksonville Gutierrez completed the course in 19:22.5 to win first place.

“This has been a goal of mine all season long,” Gutierrez said. “I wanted to end my senior year as a district champion. It has taken a lot of hard work to be able to do this, but it has been worth it.”

Gutierrez said that the biggest challenge she faced on Thursday was the weather conditions, but that she managed to put the proper spin on the situation and use that to her benefit.

“It wasn't the best conditions to run in, and some girls were complaining, but running in the cooler weather with the rain falling was actually a relief, because we have been running in the heat all season,” she said. “I convinced myself that this was better and went from there.”

As the race unfolded, Gutierrez said that she had her share of “bad spots” on the course to avoid, as well as numerous puddles.

Up next for Gutierrez and her Fightin' Maiden team mates — Jacksonville finished second in the team standings — is the UIL Class 5A Region II Championships, which will be contested in Grand Prairie on Oct. 25-26.

Gutierrez, who will be attempting to qualify for state for the third time during her prep career, said that all systems are go and that she is excited about regionals.

“I am looking forward to it,” she said. “My head is right and my body feels good. I am ready.”


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