The high jump crop in town has been particularly fecund as of late, with a number of athletes attempting to follow in the footsteps of the amazing Brendon Rivera, Vela bounder who went on to the college ranks at Arkansas.
One of the best in town these days is obviously Pete Segura, Econ’s senior leaper who performs ably in the long jump as well.
Though he worked through a knee tweak during the district meet in Pharr last week, Segura – also one of the best receivers in Jag history – advanced in his events.
Notably humble and awfully well liked by all, the former Parks and Rec summer track phenom is more at home talking about other Jags than about himself. As he prepared his marks for the high jump before Thursday’s preliminary round, he found time to praise the work of teammates.
“Now you take Gus, he has really come on, man,” said Segura of Gustavo Vazquez, who has been the Valley’s leading triple jumper for the season. “Freshman year, he was just out for track, really wasn’t sure about anything. But sophomore year we noticed he did well in some jumping drills and we were like, ‘Hey, you can do this!’”
With steady toil and improvement, Vazquez has worked his way into contention for a berth in regionals, which comes after district and then area. Along with Segura and hurdler Kyle Marroquin, he gives the squad mega points toward the team title.
Another guy contributing this season has been basketball star Angel Salinas, who barely missed the finals in the long jump at district. The lanky junior is a terrific rebounder in hoops to go with his superb ball-handling, and despite devoting much of his time to the roundball, has promise and potential in the pit.
“I did pretty good for not having been real active in track,” Salinas said. “But Pete and Gus are beasts, today Gus was one and done, all he needed was one jump and he was first.”
The girls who do the high jump have done well all season, led by senior Natalie Martinez of EHS and sophomore Bella Villarreal of Vela. Martinez, dogged by a hamstring issue, still managed to pace the field at district, Villarreal close behind. Working with an up-and-coming trainer, UTRGV athlete Anthony Magallan, Villarreal has parlayed her flexibility and agility from years of cheerleading into considerable success in track and field. And her best is yet to come.
One sub-theme to the track season has been injuries. Each school has experienced its share of trouble. Besides Martinez of EHS, teammate Nini Carrillo has been tormented with a lingering hammy, and yet gave a courageous effort in the 200 at district, despite obvious pain. A strong sprint prospect, she is expected to outpace these difficulties and be ready to be a major point girl next season.
Econ’s fine Monique Rodriguez returned to action over the weekend and gutted out her events in the wake of a long-term illness that has robbed her of 15 pounds of muscle.
“At this point I am going on all heart,” said the gal who made the higher tier last year in the jumps and has been the foundation of a Lady Jag resurgence in the sport. “I have really struggled this year, which is too bad, but I am not going to quit, I have to be there for my team.”
For Vela, the district meet was a sad one in a way, as excellent pole-vaulter Rylan Olguin, having undergone knee surgery earlier in the week, was reduced to a coaching role at Pharr. One of the highest fliers in the region, Olguin was injured running hurdles and is out for the year, but he should be able to land a spot on a college roster based on his past exploits, including a number of leaps past the 15-foot mark.