|RUNNING BIG: La Joya Juarez-Lincoln
senior Emily Perez is headed to Dallas this weekend to compete in the
Jesuit-Sheaner Relays. It’s an all-boys meet, however since 2005 the
Jesuit-Sheaner Relays has held one girls event — the elite girls 1,600
meter run — as a showcase race to highlight some of the state’s best
girls distance runners.
Meet officials contacted Perez’s coaches in January to inquire about the possibility of having her compete in the race.
“That was a definite ‘yes’ to that question,” Perez said. “I’m very excited about getting a chance to run with my buddies from the state meet. We are going to run really fast, though. I’m expecting a fast time.”
The race could give Perez the push she needs to put up a huge performance. Perez is only one of two girls from the Valley who have run a sub 5-minute time in the 1,600. The other is Sonia Sepulveda, who ran a 4:54.58 for Edinburg High in 1991. Perez clocked a 4:58.89 at a regional qualifier meet at The Woodlands last year.
“Our goal is to break a five,” Perez said. “If we are going at a faster pace, I’m going to try to break the Valley record. It’s an important race. I am there to run a really good time.”
Perez is one of three runners in the field who have a personal best of less than 5 minutes.
The race’s field consists of 18 runners and includes some elite runners from Arkansas. One of those is Margareta Montoya of Rogers, Ark., a junior who was ESPNHS.com/Gatorade cross country runner of the year in Arkansas last fall. More familiar faces to her include Meghan Shea of McKinney and Maggie Escobar of Fort Worth Boswell. They competed against each other at last year’s state track meet and last fall’s state cross country meet.
It will be the first time Perez has competed outside the Valley this track season. It opens a big two-week stretch for her. She’ll compete at the Texas Relays in Austin next weekend. On Saturday, Perez will have to implement different strategy than she usually does.
“I can’t really go out and run like crazy because everyone is just as good as I am,” Perez said. “I already know how to run with these types of girls. I think whoever runs the smartest race will be the one who wins.”
The Monitor’s David Hinojosa contributed to this report