SAN ANTONIO – Over the course of nearly two decades, Antonian has established itself as one of the best cross country programs in the state, and the premiere program in TAPPS.
The Apache boys have won a staggering 11 titles since 2000, including a current run of back-to-back championships in 2017 and 2018. The girls have added six — their most recent championship came in 2015.
But even with 17 combined titles since the turn of the millennium, Antonian enters the 2019 TAPPS Cross Country state championships wanting more, and they have the talent to get it done.
"We're looking really strong this year," junior Hunter Haynes said. "Hopefully, we run really fast and do our jobs."
"We're running really well as a team," senior Nico Pacheco said. "We have a really solid top seven, so we're just going to get out there and get after it. Our times are much closer together than they were last year. If our guys are performing well, there's no room for any other team to get their guys to score."
Being a part of a team that has had so much success brings its fair share of pressure, but the team has shouldered the weight of expectations together.
"There's always a little bit of pressure, but you just have to deal with it," sophomore Alexander Pena said. "We have a lot of state championships, so we want to keep that streak going."
"I've only been running since freshman year, and I love my team," sophomore Aubree Mora said. "They're like my second family, and I just feel at home here."
"We all run into practice really confident, telling each other that we're going to do good this season," junior Nico Flores explained. "Every practice, every morning, we're out there. We've just been working together a lot more and that shows that we're going to do a lot better. It's been a lot of fun this year, and getting to know these guys a lot more has been really great."
Another huge benefit for the Apaches is their wealth of experience on the race course in Waco, where the TAPPS Championships have been held in each of the past four seasons.
"It helps a lot," Mora said. "Last year, I was nervous and had a lot of anxiety, but this year I'm just ready to go out there and kill it."
"I know what I have to go out and do to be able to help carry the team," junior Myrella Rodriguez echoed. "There's a lot of uphill slants and I know I can dominate those."
Both squads received a proper sendoff from the Antonian student body Friday afternoon. That kind of energy and momentum, combined with the personal motivation to live up to decades of successful running, has the Apaches ready to go.
"The mindset is to just stay positive, mentally tough and give it our best shot on Monday," junior Adrian Losoya explained. "The outcome is hopefully that we'll come out on top again. We know it's definitely going to be our toughest race of the season. We've got to treat it like it's any other race. Don't get too worried or nervous, just go out there, prepare like we always have."
Antonian will compete in the 2019 TAPPS Championships at the Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco on Monday morning. The girls will race first at 11:00 a.m. The boys will then take the course at 11:55 a.m.