On to State
Palacios Diaz punches ticket to state XC meet
Palacios High School has had a long tradition of success in the realms of cross country running.
Junior Julian Diaz aims to add to that legacy as he gets ready to be a part of the field at the UIL Cross Country State Meet in Round Rock Saturday.
Diaz will be among the 188 Class 3A boys maneuvering the 5,000-meter course at Old Settlers Park. His race will begin at 11:20 a.m. Saturday.
“It’s been a tough year, but made it through. It feels awesome,” Diaz said.
Diaz earned his spot at the state meet by turning in his personal best time at the Region III meet in Huntsville last week. His time of 18:20.50 was good enough for 24th overall and was 10th best among individual runners not attached to the top four teams from the region. Only 10 individuals can qualify to be a part of the state field.
“I knew it was going to be close. I didn’t know it was literally going to come down to the last runner at the very end though,” Diaz said. “I squeezed in there. Now I am going to show them what we can do from Palacios.”
Diaz’s success carries on tradition that started long ago, Palacios cross country coach Bill Fort said. This was the 40th straight season, Fort said, that Palacios has sent a team or teams to the regional competition. That run includes 25 district titles.
“The kids feel an obligation to continue that tradition,” Fort said.
Fort has had four runners in the last six years that have made to the state meet.
Going into regional, Fort knew that Diaz and his teammate, Hector Hernandez, had a shot of making the state field. Hernandez ended up 36th overall and missed out on being a state qualifier.
Fort has set very realistic goals for Diaz as he heads to Round Rock. The aim is for Diaz to better his personal best time of 18:20, which he set at the Region III meet.
“I’ve been realistic with him. I’ve been to the state meet numerous times. A good time for him would be in the 17s. He’s going to try and break 18. That’s his goal. I think he is fully capable of it,” Fort said.
Fort said competing at the Region III meet, one of the toughest in the state for cross country, was good preparation for Diaz and gave him a taste for what he will face in Round Rock.
“This is his first time. It’s going to be a whole new experience for him. But the region we have been going to the last two years is one of the toughest 3A regions in the state. So he knows what he is in for,” Fort said.
Diaz has been grateful for the support he has received during season. He said it has been a real catalyst for his success this season.
“I’ve had a very good support system in my parents, coaches and teammates, all my friends and my girlfriend. They have been there for me since the beginning of this year. They had faith in me and they encouraged me throughout the year,” he said.
Diaz said with that support, he will continue to compete at a high level at the state meet.
“I am just going to go out there and compete how I have been competing and give it my best and hope we can get some good results out of it,” he said.