WESLACO - The track and field season has reached the beginning of its zenith and city athletes were up to the challenge last weekend at the 31-6A meet held Thursday and Saturday.
As expected, the Vela boys rode their top-flight field events crew to the team title at Bobby Lackey Stadium, getting six of eight spots in the throws and seeing both Victor Segovia and Jeremy Nino produce triple-gold performances. Segovia captured the long and triple jump titles and also won the 400-meter hurdles, while the powerful Nino aced the trifecta in distances with one of his greatest nights as a SaberCat. Beast Mode, that Nino nino.
Coach Hernan Figueroa, who has led the boys to three district crowns in the past four years, knows that his field kids paved the way, but also that the runners pulled their share of the championship weight.
“I just thank God for having so many kids willing to let us work with them as coaches,” said the veteran mentor, heartfelt and incisive, as always. “It’s very fulfilling to be a part of their lives and help them achieve these things. And having such a good lead in the field events definitely helped us for this meet.”
After the group led by George Hinojosa smashed the Thursday competition in the throws – he won the discus and got second in the shot while Kobe Gipson and Felix Hernandez moved on in both events – and Noah Trevino (high) and Nicholas Larsen (pole vault) won first, the Sabes were off and running.
“It enabled us to shift some kids around, save some bodies of guys who were injured a little this week,” Figueroa explained. “Some kids went from having to win to just qualifying, because we had a point lead, it just made everything easier heading into Saturday.”
Segovia engaged in the usual battle with North’s Roel de Leon in the hurdles, the latter winning at 110 meters and coming second to his rival in the longer race; their contrast in styles, physically dominant de Leon against leaner, lithe Segovia, was an aesthetic treat. De Leon’s points helped North to a third-place team mark at district as the Coogs keep on improving.
There were 11 gold medals won by city boys at district, as Jorge Ayala of EHS snagged one in the shot and finished second in the discus, as 2019 has offered one of the best throwing groups in town in a decade or more.
YOUNG LADY JAGS SHINE AT WESLACO
Econ and EHS went back and forth at district with the Lady Jags coming third in the league behind Weslaco and Weslaco East, the Lady Bobcats clamping down on fourth, 11 points ahead of Vela. The North girls had their moments in a season of resurgence, relatively speaking, and collected 57 points for sixth.
Econ’s Brianna Mitchell was outstanding in winning the 100 by a nose and paced the 4x2 and 4x4 relay teams to solid second-place finishes. Coach Brenda Lozano couldn’t say enough about how her strong-legged junior has kept getting better every week.
“Brianna has really worked hard, she did cross country and summer track and I think she came into this year with something to prove,” Lozano said. “She has become more of an outspoken leader for us, and we really needed that from her.”
The coach noted that after graduation took some great Lady Jags from a championship roster, she was left with some work to do.
“We had a lot of hard workers, always, and those young kids have gradually gotten better at being leaders, learning how to do that,” she commented. “I think it helped us to run at Raymondville last week, we shook it up a little, put some girls in different races, found out some things. We don’t quite have the numbers we had last year, but the girls have shown their improvement so far, and we would like to see more.”
Two of the youngsters who have been key hands are Arelly Ramirez and Dianett Garcia, the latter as a middle distance comer who is the daughter of soccer coach Robert Garcia, and the former as a real physical specimen who seems to be able to a little of everything, and do well at anything.
Though EHS standout Bri Sanchez swept the throws as predicted, Econ got 2-3 in the shot while North claimed 3-4 in the discus. The Lady Coogs have done well in the 400 and 800, with Evana Ramos and Stephanie Puente, respectively, while hurdlers Priscilla Sanchez and Nayeli Pena will be competing at area next week.
Smooth Gaby Solis blazed to the title in the 100-meter hurdles while Vela teammate Bella Villarreal copped gold in the high jump. And Lady Sabe Lili Perez made a triumphant return to prominence at Weslaco, running second in the 800 and getting bronze medals in the 1600 and 3200. The determined senior appears to be nearly 100 percent healthy at the right time.
EHS had some very bright moments, as lil’ powerpack Val de Leon came third in the 100 and had a hand in two relay successes; the Lady Bobcats squeezed into area with fourth-place runs in the 4x1 and 4x2. Other relays to make it out included the Vela 4x1 crew and North’s 4x4, led by Ramos and Puente.
The Guts Award goes to Mia Noyola of EHS as the soccer defender came second in the mile and then turned right around to dig down deep to help the mile relay team with a tremendous effort.
It’s back to work for the track and field kids now, with a week of work ahead in preps for the area meet, April 18 and 20 back at Weslaco; the groups from 32-6A are stacked, no kidding, and there will be some immense wars to be seen and savored.