Cross county running is a tough sport and so is football.
Football demands someone willing make and take hits. Cross country requires mental toughness and a runner who can fight through pain and exhaustion to finish a three-mile course.
El Campo Ricebirds senior Andres Torres has been doing both since his freshman year.
With football and cross country overlapping, not many students take part in both, Even fewer have done it their entire high school career.
Torres is the only athlete in the county to have participated in both competitions all four seasons of his high school career.
“Cross country is like more fun,” Torres said. “You go out and run and compete against other people. In football, you try your best to get better. You need stamina and running (helps) to play football.”
The similarities between both sports is one reason why he’s kept doing it throughout the years, Torres said.
Competing and training for both sports means the senior’s schedule is jam-packed.
He wakes up around 4 a.m. every morning during the week to be at cross country practice by 5:15 a.m. After practice, he goes to the weight room at 6:30 a.m. to lift with the football players.
Torres then goes to school and will be there until football practice is over in the late afternoon. From practice, he goes to work until 10 p.m and will be up until around midnight eating and studying.
“I just have (all this energy),” Torres said. “My mom is the same way, she wakes up in the morning goes to work (all day long) and goes back to sleep.”
Torres wasn’t always a cross country runner. In middle school, he was a football player and long-distance runner in track. Once he got to high school, his friend and now fellow teammate Dharma Sabrsula talked him into giving the cross country team a try.
The Ladybirds always have enough members for a full team. However, the boys cross country team haven’t had enough runners to compete as a team. Torres and a couple of other boys ran as individual runners as part of the Ricebird team throughout the last few years.
Torres is a skilled runner, last season he was the only Ricebird to make it regionals. This season, he’s collected some top finishes. At the Brazos meet two weeks ago, Torres was 11th out of 78 runners.
“Andres has worked extremely hard this season, considering he has to balance morning cross country workouts and morning weight lifting for football,” El Campo cross country coach Gabriel Villarreal said. “He never complains about having to go from one sport to the other. It has been rewarding to me as his coach to watch this young man develop over the last four years. Hopefully, he can get back to regionals this year.”
On the football field, Torres isn’t a starter but he does just about everything asked by the coaches. Torres does scout team work and gets in for special teams plays and is a backup defensive end.
“Whatever he can do to help the team, he is all in for,” El Campo Head Coach Chad Worell said. “He doesn’t complain. He doesn’t gripe. Doesn’t ask to get in. He’s just happy to be a part of it and be out there. He really does exemplify the kind of attitude and work ethic we want everyone to have.”
Torres this season has often gone from a Friday night game to running at a cross country meet hours later early Saturday morning. The reverse will happen on Oct. 14 when he competes in the district cross country meet and the following day the Ricebrids football team will play the Brazosport Exporters at home.
The hard work and grind Torres puts into playing both sports at the same time is something Worrell sees as a positive for the rest of his life.
“We’re going to look up in 10-15 years down the road and Torres is going to be a success because of the work ethic he has,” Worrell said.
Alongside Torres, football teammate senior Xavier Olvera has started running cross country this season, but the Ricebirds will not have enough runners for a full team at the district meet.