Two state meet appearances in a row are not enough for the Tech girls cross country team.
The Roadrunners are relatively new to the state spotlight and will aim to get back to the state meet by qualifying at the Class 3A Southern Region meet at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Craig Ranch Park.
If they get there, they might have their best shot to win a state title in large part because of freshman Diamond Morris.
“She just came out of nowhere,” coach Cathy Meyer said.
Morris has finished in the top five in five of her races this season, including second place at the Del Sol meet Sept. 24 and a victory in the 3.1-mile Lake Mead Invitational on Oct. 8 with a time of 21 minutes, 37.6 seconds.
“I feel like I’ve conquered a lot,” Morris said. “I’ve achieved more than I thought I would.”
It’s not just Morris. Sophomore Eden Tesfay has been right there all season, even beating Morris at Del Sol. Junior Jacqueline-Canas Rodriguez also has been a fixture near the top of the standings.
The team is talented and would be good even without Morris, but Tesfay said Morris immediately pushed the upperclassmen.
“Diamond came in, and she was a fast, young runner, and I had to mentally tell myself I can’t win all the time and I can’t be No. 1,” Tesfay said. “Her being on the team just has helped me, because I always see her ahead of me, and it pushes me. Pushes her as well.”
While the girls might be favored Friday, don’t count out the boys when they race at 2 p.m. Friday at Craig Ranch Park.
The Tech boys team has a longer winning history. Two regional championships in the past four years and state meet appearances since 2008 are proof of that. This year, the Roadrunners are led by junior Bruce Troncoso, who won his first career race Sept. 14 at Del Sol.
“I feel confident,” Troncoso said. “We’re strong. We’ve really banded together this year. I think we work well off each other.”
What is distinctive about Tech is that it is a magnet school. Southeast Career Technical Academy, as it’s fully known, doesn’t have a feeder program, and students have to apply for admission.
But Meyer sees it as a positive. She said the typical Tech student comes in with a level of determination that other public school coaches might not see.
“They’re a little more goal-oriented,” said Meyer, citing the multiple career programs Tech has that other schools do not. “They want to be here for school, for one, and that makes them maybe a little more dedicated. The kids that come here want to be here.”
It has built Tech into a Class 3A powerhouse, and for it to return to where it wants to be, each team needs to finish in the top four Friday.
And if the way the season has gone is any indication, expect to see the Roadrunners racing for a state championship Nov. 5.
Contact Justin Emerson at email@example.com or 702-387-2944. Follow @J15Emerson on Twitter.