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Cross Country: Hidden talent – After being plucked out of PE class, Esquivel becomes top runner

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, September 16, 2017
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Finding Niche

FINDING NICHE – Northwest runner Taylor Esquivel is coming off running the best time in her career at Southlake. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

While coaching cross country, George Lutkenhaus had an eye for talent and was always on the lookout for a runner.

Walking through the athletic wing, he spotted Taylor Esquivel going into an aerobics class and soon started the recruiting process of her.

“I would see this kid, going into a PE class and she had the look of a runner,” Luktenhaus recalled. “I talked with the teacher about her and she said she was a great kid. I convinced her to come out.

“You know a runner when you see them.”

Over the past three years, Esquivel has turned herself into the Lady Texans’ top runner. The Northwest senior and Newark resident will run in Saturday’s Ken Garland Invitational at the University of North Texas’ Discovery Park.

Esquivel is coming off running a personal best of 20:29 in the 5K at the Southlake Invitational.

“I’ve put in a lot of work and I have coaches that push me and teammates that make you want to do your best,” Esquivel said.

Her time at Southlake was three seconds better than her previous best time of 20:32 at the Reunion Run last year. It was just the third time for her to be under 21 minutes in her career.

“She’s a late bloomer,” said Northwest coach Josh Allen. “She’s a committed, hard-working kid.”

When she first started running, she battled through a series of injuries.

“It was rough, but I loved being around the people on the team,” she said.

Lutkenhaus recalled Esquivel’s instant commitment.

“She struggled with knees and shins that first year. She was in a lot of pain but would never let on,” he said. “You knew she would be good when she kept working through it. You could tell that she was hurting, but we’d have to make her stop.”

Just a year after starting running, she earned a spot in Northwest’s varsity seven. She finished 22nd last year at the 6-5A meet, running 21:06 as the Lady Texans’ third runner behind seniors Lindsay Klasek and Emma Frandsen.

Esquivel credited those seniors with her growth in the sport.

“They helped me a lot. They were very welcoming,” she said.

Nearing the championship portion of her senior season, Esquivel is not only eying personal records but is now looking to run after high school.

“I’m trying to run anywhere – a four-year school or community college. That’s the goal right now,” she said.

She will ever be grateful for Lutkenhaus’ ability to scout out talent.

“He’s at every race. At the end, he’ll give me a thumbs up,” Esquivel said.

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