Alice freshman leads the way in Coyotes' run to 31-4A team titles

Rey Castillo
Corpus Christi Caller Times

Victoria Diaz was nervous leading up to the District 31-4A cross country meet on Tuesday at Tuloso-Midway High School.  

But it was nothing out of the ordinary for the talented freshman who has soared through the ranks in her first season on the Alice varsity team.

Diaz won five individual titles leading up to the district meet, including a first-place finish at the Javelina Invitational on Oct. 2 and second among 244 competitors at the FEAST Patriot Invitational in San Antonio with a time of 12 minutes, 15 seconds.

"I don't know how many times I've thrown up before a race," Diaz said. "When I get to the starting line I start to get butterflies. But when the gun goes off, my mind becomes clear."

Diaz took her time out of the gate, but only needed two minutes to take the lead for good.

Diaz completed the race in 12:59 to win her sixth individual title this season –– finishing 42 seconds ahead of Robstown's Madison Pinon. 

Diaz' performance fueled the Coyotes to the team title and a spot in the Region IV-4A meet on Oct. 25 at Dugan Stadium.

The Tuloso-Midway girls placed second and Robstown finished third to also qualify for the regional meet. 

The Alice boys edged Zapata for the team title and Tuloso-Midway placed third to advance.

"I love winning and pushing myself," Diaz said. "It makes you feel really good after the race. I really put a lot of work into it and my coach says she can see on my face that I'm pushing myself."

Alice's Victoria Diaz competes in the District 31-4A cross country meet, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, at Tuloso-Midway High School. The freshman finished first with 12:59.9.

Diaz used to watch the Alice cross country teams from the bleachers, envisioning how she could help the Coyotes in the coming years.

Diaz began running cross country in seventh grade and won first place in her first competitive race. 

Diaz said that's when she knew she had what it took to compete at a higher level and find her place on the team. 

"When she came in she was extremely humble," said Alice cross country coach Marissa Acosta. "She's very talented, but adding in the work aspect and getting in the right mileage for her is pretty incredible. I still don't think she's reached her potential. She cares a lot about this sport and I'm proud of her."

Diaz' ties to the sport run deep with her parents, aunt and grandma running track for the Coyotes. 

But Diaz is the first in her family to win an individual district title as a freshman and hopes to be the first to win a gold medal at a state meet. 

"It feels amazing and it opens my eyes for the more opportunities that are going to come," Diaz said. "I remember going to the high school track meets and telling my mom I would be there.

"Now coming into this year, I know it's going to happen," Diaz added. "I'm thinking I have a good chance to get a good place at regionals and I want to go to state. It would be my dream and as a freshman, it would be amazing."

The Alice girls and boys cross country teams each captured team titles at the District 31-4A meet. The Coyotes finished with 44 points and the Lady Coyotes totaled 49 points to advance to the Region IV-4A meet.

COYOTES SWEEP MEET 

The Alice boys followed the girls first-place finish with a gold medal of their own by winning the team title on Tuesday. 

The Lady Coyotes finished with 49 points and the Coyotes totaled 44 points to advance to the Region IV-4A meet. 

"The boys are a special group," Acosta said. "They have been training since June and it's so special. It's been a long time since we claimed a district title and we just claimed two of them today. We're very excited and I know they're going to be excited for a while."

Acosta said the teams will enjoy the win but will begin preparations for the regional meet this week. 

"The momentum is going to be good," Acosta said. "We have some things we need to adjust and that's going to help us out big time. We're excited."

Tuloso-Midway's Ivan Avila competes in the District 31-4A cross country meet, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, at Tuloso-Midway High School. Avila placed first with 17:54.2.

REDEMPTION

Tuloso-Midway's Ivan Avila carried the weight of not accomplishing his goal of placing first at last year's District 31-4A meet.

Avila led most of the race before suffering a breakdown and settling for second place.

"Last year I was expecting myself to win district and in the middle of the race, I had a mental breakdown," Avila said. "I ended up coming back to take the lead but my teammate took it from me."

Avila dedicated the offseason to making sure history wouldn't repeat itself. 

The T-M junior showed his hard work was not in vein after edging teammate Anthony Garrett for first place with a time of 17:54.

Garrett won silver with a time of 18 minutes. 

"This summer, I trained to find a way that wouldn't happen again," Avila said. "I wanted to makes sure I wouldn't lose focus. I had support from my friends and family. They pushed me all summer and pushed me to win it. I'm grateful for them."

Avila and Garrett's finish helped the Warriors place third as a team behind Zapata and Alice. 

Correction: This story was corrected on Oct. 17, 2021 to reflect Victoria Diaz winning by 42 seconds. The time was incorrect in a previous version.