Instead of running at Brooks City-Base, which was also site of his District 26-5A and Region IV meets, Vertiz will be running with the rest of the field at UTSA Park West Athletics Complex.
This is one of the few courses in the area Vertiz doesn't know, but that won't be a distraction. As one the top returning cross country runners in Texas, the chances are highly favorable Vertiz will adjust.
“I loved the Brooks course and the atmosphere,” Vertiz said. “I'm going to miss it. I don't even know what this course will be like.
“When you don't know a course, you just have to go out and run hard.”
Vertiz goes into the meet highly motivated. He recently made a verbal commitment to run cross country and track at Texas. In addition to being the reigning Romo champion, he finished third at last year's Class 5A state meet after winning 26-5A and Region IV titles. During track season, he advanced to the state meet in the 3,200- and 1,600-meter run in similar fashion.
“I'm feeling really good,” Vertiz said. “I'm getting faster times in my workouts and feel stronger. Last year definitely gave me a lot more confidence. I want to go back to the state meet this year and win. I want to go to Foot Locker Cross Country Championships and finish well there.”
Vertiz is on the right track. He dominated the competition in his season debut with a time of 14 minutes, 16.24 seconds in The Woodlands Invitational. The closest runner to Vertiz was Klein Oak's Nathaniel Jones, who clocked in at 14:34.63.
Vertiz's victory was due to the usual explosive start. After breaking out in front, he held the lead before pouring on additional speed down the stretch.
“That was a good way to start,” Vertiz said. “I'll have some runners from the region pushing me this week. I'm looking forward to getting better.”