In the sport of competitive cross country running, a few seconds is a big difference.

For Alice High School freshman Rita Castillo, a couple of seconds was the difference between advancing to the UIL state cross country meet and the end of their season.

Castillo placed 29th with a time of 18:21.11 at the Class 5A, Region IV cross country championships Monday at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi.

The top two teams and the top 10 individual finishers not on a state qualifying team advance to the state meet. Castillo missed qualifying by just five seconds on the three-mile course.

Alice High School cross country coach Marissa Acosta said Castillo ran a solid ran against a tough field of runners.

“It was very close, and she gave her best effort,” she said. “Unfortunately, she just came up short. She ran the type of race that I was expecting from her.”

Junior Tania Lillich placed 38th in the race with a time of 18:38.13. There were 178 runners in the girls’ field.

Also running for the Alice girls was Ashley Arellano, 102; Jacqlyn Villarreal, 109; Paris Chalfant, 136; Kaitlyn Soliz, 151; and Samantha Pierce, 159.

The Alice boys were represented by regional qualifiers Guadalupe Garcia and Samuel Salinas. Garcia was 78th and Salinas was 93rd. There were 186 runners in the boys’ field.