Avila rewrites cross country record books

Farmersville senior adds another school record to her resume after shattering her previous mark in the cross country 5k race

FARMERSVILLE – Two years ago, Farmersville senior Julissa Avila was very much opposed to the idea of running cross country. A year later she was breaking records. This year she broke the school’s cross country record in the 5K, shattering her own record by over a minute.

At the Waller Park Goose Chase Invitational 5K in Santa Maria, Calif. on Sept. 18, Avila finished with a time of 18:54 and is the only person to break 20 minutes in school history. Her previous record was a time of 19:49 in the 2020 ESL Championship which happened earlier this year on March 18.

The record stayed in the family as the previous holder was her older sister Anahi who graduated in 2020. She ran a time of 20:26 during her senior year before graduating and having it broken by her younger sister.

The records didn’t stop there as the Avila sisters’ talent transitioned well from the grass to the track. They currently hold the top two times in school history for the 800-meter and 1600-meter events, as Anahi broke both records during her senior year with her sister following suit the following season.

The 2021 track season this past spring was one for the books for the younger Avila sister. In addition to her record setting performances in the 800-meter and 1600-meter races, her time of 12:34 in the track and field 3200-meter run is a school best, bringing her combined school record total to four which ties her sister’s combined total upon graduation.

A high school sports career in track and field or cross country was not in the plans for either Avila sister. Anahi decided to run her senior year and convinced her reluctant sister to join. As natural athletes, both sisters made an immediate impact in both sports. Julissa joined about a month into the season and the duo finished neck and neck in nearly every race, with Anahi finishing just ahead most of the time. During the spring of 2020, Julissa was a star on the softball field while Anahi continued breaking records by running track and field in her final semester at Farmersville High School. Once the older sister graduated, the younger Avila realized what could potentially lie ahead if she were to trade in her softball bat for running shoes.

“I was still attached to softball, but then I realized that I can do bigger and better things in running so that’s when I had to leave softball to do track,” Julissa said.

Add a global pandemic into the mix and suddenly Avila had all the time in the world to hone her running skills. She noticed that a lot of runners gave up on training during quarantine but she feels that the extra time at home to run on her own time was a major advantage.

“My first year I didn’t really take it seriously because I didn’t want to do it. Until last year I was like okay I need to be serious, I can do good in the sport. So I just started practicing more and more,” she said.

Last season in cross country, she finished first in the East Sequoia League (ESL) and ninth in the Central Valley 5K, ending the season as Tulare County’s fastest runner. This year she is again the clear front runner in the ESL while ranking in the top 25 in the Central Section as she looks to continue beating her own personal best time. If this season is anything like last year, she could save her best time for when it matters most as the ESL Championship is on Tuesday Nov. 10 at Corcoran High School.

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