It was a good opening salvo to herald the upcoming track and field season, as five of the eight city squads got together at Richard R. Flores Stadium Thursday for what has become an annual event, the practice meet.
As usual, the North teams chose to keep their own counsel, leaving both girls and boys from Vela and Econ plus the EHS girls’ crew to run abbreviated races to warm up for the action ahead. Soon, Pharr, San Benito, and Elsa will be the sites of detonation for the season, and at Edinburg Thursday the seal was broken on what promises to be a competitive and entertaining campaign.
Coach Alicia Ramirez of the Lady Bobcats heads into the chase with the usual story; not too much depth, some quality veterans, and some multi-sport stars perhaps to help down the road.
“We are looking at bringing out some of the basketball kids,” she said. “We do also have some softball girls, so we will make it work somehow, at our school sharing the athletes is something we have to do if we want to continue to be in the hunt.”
Besides the moonlighters, Ramirez knows she can pencil in returning vet Adriana Cruz for points in every meet; Cruz is experienced and fit for the season. Melody Marroquin is another Lady Bobcat who should make a difference this year, as she did in 2017.
Meanwhile, Econ Coach Brenda Lozano begins the season with a loss, as sprinter Priscilla Vela went down with a torn ACL sustained in a soccer match. Now the Lady Jags must forge ahead without their fastest athlete but they still have some stars on hand, including the award-winning Monique Rodriguez, thrower Brittany Cantu, and the perennially solid distance group paced by Mayra Bernardo and Diana Lozano.
Rodriguez, who took the district by storm last year in the jumps, placed fourth in the triple jump at a prestigious upstate meet in Houston recently and had the honor of meeting some all-time greats, including Olympic legend Carl Lewis.
Over at Vela, new coach Iris Garza transitions into track and field after 22 years as a basketball mentor.
“It’s different in some senses, you don’t spend as much time breaking down film and scouting,” said Garza, the former P-SJ-A star who was a fine basketball player at UTPA back in the day. “In track, the individuals you train and work with, they form a team in a way, but not like in basketball.”
Garza told her athletes to approach the practice meet with seriousness but no pressure, which makes sense.
“We need to find out where we are, what we need to do to continue to prepare for the season,” she informed her assembled cadre.
Garza has a slew of effective athletes, from senior sprinter/jumper Sophia Ramirez to gutty distance runner Lily Perez. Perez is in golden early form and so is Ramirez, who said she is working on more than just training.
“Last year we had a bunch of seniors who were leaders, this year not so much,” she commented. “So it’s time for me to step up and show the sort of leadership I got from the older girls in past seasons, and I am looking forward to it.”
The numbers are solid with the Lady Sabes and even better with the boys. Even with a handful of athletes missing for various reasons, Coach Hernan Figueroa was able to marshal an impressive and intimidating phalanx of would-be contributors at the meet.
The throng of SaberCats stretched the width of the field during warm-ups, and its numbers included football stars Nick Enriquez and Brandon Guzman, among others. The younger Guzman, Eddie, is a hard-working rising presence on the unit for 2018. Rylan Olguin, so strong in the pole vault last year, has a shot at making a splash in the hurdles as well this time around.
The East Side contingent strolled into the stadium a bit late but acquitted itself well once the action began. The Jags did not have Pete Segura on hand, as he is working on helping the basketball team to the playoffs. But soon enough he will be back, to aid teammate Kyle Marroquin and some promising sprinters who hope to repeat last year’s creditable team showing.