EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) – San Juanita Leal closed out her high school cross country career with a second place finish at the 6A UIL State Cross Country meet.

Leal’s time of 16 minutes, 57.6 seconds was her personal best, beating her own Valley record of 17:01.5 that she set at last year’s state meet.

Her 2023 finish also saw her move up two places, from fourth place to second place.

Courtesy: Enrique Leal

“It was a really amazing experience,” Leal said. “It was my first or second time competing with people head on this season.”

Leal left it all out on the course in her final state meet. Leal said she didn’t know if she would even compete this year.

However, she realized she had to finish what she started. 

Courtesy: Enrique Leal

“I just had to trust in myself, go out hard and mostly compete with myself,” Leal said.

Leal closed out her cross country career as a three-time district champ and two-time area champ, on top of her two top-five finishes at the state meet.

San Juanita also added her silver medal to the two gold medals she won at last year’s ​​state track and field championships.

“I’m planning to reclaim my titles,” Leal said. “I might add another event, which is the 800 meter, depending how training goes since I know how good the girls are who compete in the event.”

While Leal focuses her attention to track & field, she also reflected on her passion for cross country.

Courtesy: Enrique Leal

Specifically, she brought up the mindset that propelled her to the top of the sport.

“For young girls who want to give the sport a try, you have to have a plan,” Leal said. “Without a plan, you will not go where you want to go. Thankfully, my friends, teammates and family have helped me along my journey. It means so much to me.”

Leal is set to compete at the Nike Regionals in The Woodlands at Bear Branch Park on Nov. 18.