Shorthorns Gallegos-Lopez, Luna head to state meet in Austin this weekend
By NICK WINCHESTER
MARFA — Shorthorns Arron Luna and Jose Gallegos-Lopez, both juniors, will compete at the UIL track finals in Austin Friday.
Both athletes qualified for state after gaining top positions at regionals. Gallegos-Lopez won gold in the 800m run with a time of 2:05.05, Marfa’s first regional championship gold for several years. Luna finished second with a time of 51.56 in the 400m dash.
“I believe the guys will do exceptionally at the state track meet in Austin. We have been plagued with minor injuries these past few weeks but I know the guys will fight through and make Marfa proud,” Josh Kelly, the boys’ coach, tells me.
On a 90-degree afternoon at Alpine High School’s track Luna runs two 320-meter practice laps, spurred on by coach Josh Kelly. The first practice lap he runs comes in at 39.4 secs, which translates to 49.25 seconds for a full 400 meters. Come race day, if Luna can keep that pace or better it, he’d be in with a chance at the title, coach Kelly tells me.
On the second practice Luna is a few tenths of a second slower. The wind, he says, slowed him slightly on the final corner.
Later, after his warm-down lap, Luna is all smiles and tells me he’s ready to perform at state.
Gallegos-Lopez, who is unable to run after cramping up earlier in the day, seems equally as prepared. Coach Kelly tells me he had to try multiple times to get Gallegos-Lopez to switch from 400m to 800m. Gallegos-Lopez, he says, would purposefully do badly until he realized the 800m was where his talents laid.
Luna says running in front of scouts at state is another motivation for him.
The boys both say they feel confident and excited for their races this weekend.
Gallegos-Lopez will race the 800m at 6:20pm and Luna the 400m 8:05pm Friday. The state meet takes place at the Mike A. Myers Track and Soccer Stadium, Austin
Coach Kelly says for the next year, as seniors, he can get both boys right to the very top.
Before the boys head off for Austin at 9am Thursday with their coach and family, they will receive an escort through the city.