Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bobby Aguirre-TX High School Cross Country Great

As we head to the Texas State Cross Country Championships this weekend, I find myself wanting to give due to one of the all-time greats in TX Cross Country history, Bobby Aguirre of El Paso Riverside. Bobby had the misfortune of having a tremendous 4 year career in an era that doesn't have a lot of info online. If you visit the UIL website the archives start in 1984. Bobby's last championship was 1983. I'd like to add a little online history for this great runner. People often look back at Reuben Reina, Alan Culpepper, Brad Hauser and Colby Lowe as they should, but few accomplished in a 4 year span what Aguirre did.
Aguirre won the Dist 2-5a Title 4 years in a row. He won the Region 1 title 3 years in a row, after a 2nd place finish his Freshman year. His Region 1 Record at Mae Simmons Park stood for 24 years until Colby Lowe broke it last year. He was a 2 time State Champion (1981,1983) a 2nd place finisher in 1982 and finished 4th as a Freshman in 1980. The most impressive race to me was winning his Sophomore year over the great Carlos Quinones (Killeen). Quinones was a tremendous talent who finished his career with Track Pr's of 1:50, 4:08 and 9:10. Carlos was the 1981 State Champ in the 800 and the 1982 State Champ in the 3200. He had range. Bobby was coming off a 4th place finish as a Freshman (to Quinones' 3rd) . There is a story (reliable sources tell me it is true) that Bobby had a shirt made that said State Champ on it. Quinones approached him and asked him, "When were you State Champ?" Bobby replied, "I will be today" Quinones asked him, "What race are you in?" Bobby replied, "The one you're in!" Arrogant? A little, but he backed it up as he won the meet in 15:10. Quinones was 3rd.
His Junior year he finished 2nd to the great Jon Warren of Houston Cypress Creek. Bobby said he played the race wrong tactically , but losing to Warren was nothing to be ashamed of. Jon Warren later ran a sub-4 mile and was an Olympic Trials qualifier in the Marathon.
His senior year, 1983, Aguirre absolutely dominated the race. At the top of the first hill, he was dead last. He told us (my team at the meet) he was going to do this. He wanted to pass each and every runner. I was shocked when he went by me. He wasn't last long and took the lead at the 1st mile, he then backed off to save for the end. At the 2 mile mark he raced by Tony Martinez (SA Churchill) and Augie Flores (SA Burbank) and ran that last mile 25 seconds faster than anyone else as he defeated Martinez by that margin!! Tony (who later ran for Rice) was no jogger, he had a 9:02 3200 to his name.
Bobby never went to any of the post-season meets but I think he could have really made a name for himself at Kinney (now known as Footlocker). After losing to Aguirre at State, Martinez went to the Kinney Nationals finishing just a little outside 30 seconds of winner Matt Guisto. Bobby had so much left after winning that last State Title I think he could have beaten Martinez by the same margin at least.
His Track credentials were not on the same level as XC. He did finish 2nd in the 1983 State Meet in the 3200 (9:13) and he did not run Track in 1984 (Senior year). Real life responsibilities came way to young for Aguirre and he was never really heard from again after winning the 83 XC crown. Reuben Reina started his 3200/1600 meter title streak that Spring, but I think he would have had a real fight on his hands with Bobby. For the record,Tony Martinez took 2nd in that years 3200.
The runners who , over the years, had the same type of career as Aguirre usually went on to successful college careers and some even beyond college. It is worth noting that future Olympians Reuben Reina and Alan Culpepper (who both won USATF XC Championships) never ran as fast on the old Georgetown course as Aguirre. Reina's senior year he set a Footlocker (then known as Kinney) course record that stands to this day.
Bobby never had the opportunity to run in college. Some real heavy life changes at a very young age prevented that. I know of these, but certainly feel it is not my place to discuss them on a public forum. A lot of this information came firsthand as I was lucky enough to room with him at the 1983 Regional and State meets. I personally think he would have been great at the NCAA level, possibly moving up to the longer races in Track and running the 8 and 10K's in Cross Country. I hope at least 1 Texas Cross Country fan read's this and comes away knowing of a great runner they didn't know of before.


Pete trujillo said...

Joe, great article, it is incredible reading about the greats of El Paso Texas HS running before the advent of the Internet. Alot are lost to history; Frank Ariola, the El Paso HS XC state champ team, Patsy Norman even Gilbert Contreras.
Keep it up.

Wonderduck said...

Well I did read this and it was great. Good work recalling that and putting out there. Jon Warren is a fantastic coach now for Rice. He coaches us regular folk too and he just has a knack for training and running.

Jose said...

Way to bring light to El Paso's greats Joe. I never had the opportunity to run against Bobby, although I believe I ran in the same race as you at least once. My Track & Cross Country High School career was great, but Bobby left some big shoes to fill at my school (Riverside). I was a freshman in 1984, then graduated in 1988 always competing alongside Gilbert Contreras (whom you speak of in another article).
-Joe Padilla

Anonymous said...

Good story. I did have the opportunity to run against Bobby; he was way out of my league; I mean, you could say I was a junior high runner in comparison to Bobby. He could have done great in college and could have even represented the U.S. internationally had he been able to continue his running career. I wish him the best where ever he may be. JQ - EPSH Tigers Class of '85

Jim Phillips said...

Enjoyed the article Joe. I ran 4a back in those days, unfortunately the only time I got to face some of those guys was at Texas Relays prior to college. I remember Bobby's state champion shirt...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great article and great memories. I was friends and running-mate with Bobby in El Paso and life did catch up to him early in life. He was an outstanding runner (the best!). I too ran the 3200 and Bobby beat me (I finished in 9:21) and of course he was faster but I dont remember his time. I went on to college to run X-country (TCU). We were very close and I dated his girl-friend's sister Irma. He was a great guy and we somehow lost touch over the years. Again thank you for the memories.

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Unknown said...

Bobby joined the Army soon after high school and upon his discharge became an El Paso Police Officer. He retired after 20 years and his work spoke for itself. He was fondly known as 10-7 Bob during his career with EPPD. Great guy and is currently working with family in the family business.