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Men's cross country team secures UTPA's first Great West championship title
By UTPA Athletics
956/381-2221
Posted: 11/07/2008
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In four months of joining the Great West Conference, The University of Texas-Pan American men's cross country program has already secured its first championship title and garnered the Men’s Coach of the Year honor Nov. 1 at the Great West Conference Championships in Orem, Utah.


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Pictured are the Great West Championship cross country team. Kneeling front left is J.J. Hernandez and Luis Nava. Standing left to right are Head Coach Dennis Darling, Interim Director of Athletics Ricky Vaughn, Wally Gonzalez, Gilroy Martinez, Robert Najera, Vidal Ruiz, Angel M. Ramirez, and Assistant Coach Hugo Cervantes.
"I couldn't have asked for anything more. Beginning the season so rough and ending it with a championship is just a blessing in itself. I knew both teams were going to come into this race and do well," said Dennis Darling, head cross country coach. "This is something the program needed."

Luis Nava (La Joya, Texas/La Joya H.S.) recorded a second place finish with a time of 25:57.0 in the 8K race, while Robert Najera (Mercedes, Texas/South Texas for Health Professionals) finishing in sixth with a time of 26:15.6. Both Nava and Najera received First Team All-Conference honors.

J.J. Hernandez (San Juan, Texas/PSJA North H.S.) placed eighth overall with a time of 26:40.0. Sophomore Angel M. Ramirez (McAllen, Texas/McAllen H.S.) took home a ninth place finish with a time of 26:43.4, and teammate Wally Gonzalez (Edinburg, Texas/Edinburg North H.S.) finished right behind in 10th place with a time of 26:46.5. Hernandez, Ramirez and Gonzalez all received Second Team All-Conference accolades.

Junior Gilroy Martinez (McAllen, Texas/Nikki Rowe H.S.) recorded a 26th place finish with a time of 28:45.9. Vidal Ruiz (La Joya, Texas/La Joya H.S.) finished in 37th recording a time of 30:26.4.

Darling, who brought home the Men's Coach of the Year award, said he was thrilled the cross country program was the first UTPA Athletics team to produce the first Great West championship win.

"The men were confident going into this race and they knew they were going to win. They've been doing well all season long and they brought home the first Great West Conference Championship title," said Darling.

For the Lady Broncs, Carolina Izaguirre (Brownsville, Texas/Hanna H.S.) collected a third place finish with a time of 23:18.9 in the 6K race and also received First Team All-Conference honors.

Sara Rodriguez (Pharr, Texas/Valley View H.S.) placed 14th overall recording a time of 24:41.6 and received Second Team All-Conference accolades.

Sophomore Diana Galloso (Edinburg, Texas/Edinburg H.S.) finished 16th with a time of 24:44.5 with teammate Larissa de Leon (Mission, Texas/Sharyland H.S.) placing 32nd with a time of 26:22.9 and Sasha Suarez (Mission, Texas/PSJA North H.S.) taking home a 41st place finish with a time of 28:09.0.

"The women did a great job. Caro put up a good fight and I’m happy with their overall performance," added Darling.

The Great West Conference wraps up the regular season for the men’s and women's cross country programs except for the qualifiers who will be heading to NCAA Regional Championships on Nov. 15 in Waco, Texas.