Barbers Hill cross country runners – junior Gabe Villanueva and freshman Makayla Johnson – have been named the top harriers for the 2019 season. The two were leaders for the boys and girls district champions (submitted photo)

Barbers Hill pair XC’s top runners

Cross country season ended without any area runners qualifying for a state finals appearance, but that doesn’t mean a number of top harriers did not record strong seasons.

Two of the strongest came via Barbers Hill high school, which won both boys and girls District 21-5A titles and were led by two of the area’s best.

Freshman Makayla Johnson and junior Gabe Villanueva more than paved the way for solid Eagles teams and their efforts has led them to being named the 2019 Baytown Sun Select Cross Country runners of the year.

Johnson, came on strong from the onset, and was district MVP, champion and Newcomer of the Year while finishing 53rd at the Region 3-5A meet.

“She was consistently my first or second finisher in both the 3,200-meter and 5K distances,” Barbers Hill girls coach Stacy Tucker said. “She improved throughout the season.”

Johnson was happy with the progress she made in her first prep season.

“I feel like I ended the season well,” she said. “The regional course was really tough, but I’m only a freshman and I plan to keep working hard and hope to do even better next season.   It felt great winning district individually and as a team.” 

Villanueva was a runner-up at the district meet and took 32nd at the region meet, while running a season-best 17:07 this season.

“I think I started off strong, and the harder I worked in practice the better I performed in the races,” Villanueva said. “I’m happy with my last race, but disappointed not to compete at state. I was about 20 seconds from qualifying this season, but I’m going to pick right up where I left off and work hard through track and hope to qualify for the 2020 state meet.”

The rest of the select 

(Criteria includes coach nomination and statistical data)


Daniel Armenta, Barbers Hill: The other half of Barbers Hill’s 1-2 punch with Villanueva, he was third at the district meet and ran a season-best 17:30.

Cristofer Cabrales, Goose Creek Memorial: A first-year runner, he moved up to varsity midseason and ended up 12th at the loaded District 22-5A meet and led the Patriots to the regional meet.

Moses Ridley, Goose Creek Memorial: The freshman was the Patriots top finisher at the regional meet.

Caleb Wampler, Barbers Hill: One of the Barbers Hill top runners, his PR this year was a 17:55.


Jessica De La Fuente, Barbers Hill: A district first teamer and ultimately ended up the top Lady Eagle at the region meet, finishing 43rd.

Hailey Pequeno, Goose Creek Memorial: The freshman won seven medals in 10 races and was arguably the top new runner in the area. She finished in the top 10 of five races and was sixth at the district meet and 58th at regionals.

Kelsea Risinger, Barbers Hill: She rose from a JV runner and ended up being one of Tucker’s top runners which included a season where she won the Bridge City Cardinal Classic.

Tania Rodriguez, Goose Creek Memorial: Runner-up for Runner of the Year, the senior will leave as GCM’s most accomplished runner in program history. She was a top 10 finisher in four races and finished ninth at the District 22-5A meet while ending up 54th at regionals.

“Tania is one of the best overall athletes I have had the pleasure of coaching,” GCM coach Roman Huizar said. “She shows up every day in practice and competitions does her best.”

Sarah Salinas, REL: Finished 10th at the District 22-5A meet and qualified for the Region 3 meet, setting a PR of 22:09.20. “We are all extremely proud of her for representing Lee with such pride and excellence and look forward to watching her compete again,” REL coach Crystal Aguero said. “I am honored to work with such a fine young athlete who is also a stellar student for us at Lee and a true role model, leading by example every day.”

Honorable mention


Jonathan Ferrell, Barbers Hill

Zach Ferrigno, Barbers Hill

Derek Salinas, REL

Edgar Truillo, GCM


Alexis Galaviz, Barbers Hill

Gloria Martinez, GCM

Vanessa Mendoza, GCM




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