MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) – McAllen Girls Cross Country is set to compete at the UIL Cross Country State Meet for the first time in 26 years.

The Bulldogs qualified for the state meet in 5A, placing fourth in the regional meet in Corpus Christi.

“We’re so excited,” Kenzi Ramirez, junior cross country runner, said. “We fell short at districts for a district championship, so we’re super excited to get redemption at regionals and make it to State.”

McAllen placed the highest out of every 5A school in the Rio Grande Valley.

Three Bulldogs, Dana Rojas Vasquez, Kenzi Ramirez and Daira Rojas Vasquez, finished in the top 15 at the regional meet. To this year’s team, State is a measuring stick for the number of miles they’ve put into this season.

“Honestly, we’re super excited,” Ava Barreda, sophomore cross country runner, said. “It’s amazing that we’ve made it to this point, so we’re just excited to get up there and show what we’ve been working on.”

Head Coach Daniel De La Rosa has coached cross country for 18 years. 

De La Rosa has sent individual runners to the state meet. However, this is his first time sending a team to the meet. He said his team’s ability to qualify, as a whole, speaks to the work they’ve put in.

“There’s only seven girls running, and everyone has to be on their A-game,” said De La Rosa. “We started in June and we grinded for five months. This is a great experience and a great time for these ladies.”

The high school did a “spirit walk” send-off for the ladies on Nov. 1. The amount of support they have felt from McAllen Bulldog faithfuls, as well as their friends and family, is unlike anything they have experienced before.

“It’s awesome, plain and simple,” said Ramirez. “I hope our team inspires younger girls to come out and see just how great this sport can be.”

McAllen is set to run at 8:30 a.m., Friday Nov. 3, at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.