WESLACO - Every time she tells someone she’s on the track team, they ask, “Well, what do you run?”
That’s when Jennifer Acosta gets to say something totally different. When she replies that she’s actually a shot-putter, folks are like, “What? No way! You don’t look like one!”
And at the 35th Meet of Champs Saturday, watching the senior tosser in a pack with the rest of the athletes competing in the event illustrated the rub. Surrounded by hulking behemoths from around the Valley, Acosta didn’t exactly look tiny. But she was definitely the smallest gal in a meat circle with little breathing room.
“I tell people that you don’t have to be huge to throw the shot,” said Acosta, who has improved steadily in her event with each meet. She threw 33-6 Saturday, not enough for any points. “Most of the power for the shot comes from the legs anyway.”
And legs she’s got, big-time, making her one of the favorites in the District 31-5A meet in three weeks. Acosta, who actually did run track and play volleyball at one point in he EHS career, notes that she comes from an athletic family, and that she’s really gotten into the field events these days.
Her coaches insist that despite the fact she may not be as burly as the competition, Acosta has worked hard to compensate for that with technique. And steady toil in the weight room, where she is among the strongest girls.
Also competing in the shot, but for the Bobcat boys, was Joey Galvan, the football strongman who has been hindered by a knee injury. Galvan, expected to be the team’s leader on the offensive line in his senior year, said that he’s not 100 percent yet.
“I have just been cleared to do all the workouts, and it is hurting quite a bit today,” said Galvan, who is among the best lifters the football program has had in years. He finished fourth.
One of these days, Leigha Brown is going to soar right out of the stadium. The Econ freshman enjoyed another productive day in the triple jump at the Meet of Champs, finishing fourth, and she is just getting started. A steady point-scorer in the triple/long and also the hurdle events, Brown has three more seasons to go, and when she perfects technique to go along with her considerable natural ability, we’re talking about a potential regional champ, or beyond.
For now, the title of Jump Champ for the Jags has to go to Nelson “The Little Cat” Hampton, who was third in the triple jump Saturday at 42-0 and third in the long jump too. Teammate Danny Garcia came second in the long.
Hampton has bulked up somewhat these days, and all eyes will be on him when his senior football season approaches. On a scorching day at the Champs, the Cat was disappointed with his effort, but for everyone else, it was solid. That’s the type of ambition the likeable junior brings to anything he does.
“No, I don’t feel like I am doing good today,” he said with a wan smile midway through the jumps, hiding under in a tent with fellow Econ jumper Kayla Longoria. Both those stalwarts looked plain tuckered out. “It is really hot out here!”
TIME ENOUGH TO WORK
The field events continued with North’s Alma Chavez, the busiest of bees this spring. She made it to the final four in the high jump before dropping out after failing at 5-2 and Chavez knows that one of the reasons is that she is the ultimate multi-tasker.
“I have been missing some practices because of all the things I am involved in lately,” she commented, saying that FFA, planning for the prom, and student government have all bitten into the available hours with which to hone her high-jumping skills. “I have a ways to go before I can match what I was doing last year.”
Still, her smooth approach and powerful leap got her a personal best of 5-0 for the day, and she has to be considered a decent bet to win the district crown, especially since the extracurricular schedule is slowing down now.
Another North athlete was in good form at the meet, as Cory Esparza came in second in the discus. Along with battling with Rio Grande City’s Alex Garza for the top spot, Esparza took time out to discuss football, or lack thereof. Seems that this impressive physical specimen is going to concentrate on track from here on out, eschewing the football field, upon which he was one of the program’s most promising defensive linemen two years back.
After a severe arm injury kept him out in 2009, Esparza decided that his best shot to win a free education is in the discus, and in the first meet of the year, a 164-foot throw confirmed that indeed, he has what it takes to get that done.
“No, I think I’m out for this football season,” he said. “I mean, I liked football well enough…I don’t know, I guess I just wanted to show everyone what I could do, and that’s it. I am going to keep working in track and hopefully get a scholarship.”
Esparza is working with Larry Howell, the long-time area guru in the throws, and has another year after this one to get his 164 into the 180s or more. The football program’s loss is most definitely the track group’s gain. Esparza is a rare beast!
MEET OF CHAMPS RESULTS
High jump: 4. Alma Chavez, North 5-0
Triple jump: 4. Leigha Brown, Econ 34-1
800: 3. Jenyse Vazquez, North 2:25.56; 6. Elizabeth Galloso, EHS 2:28.55
100 hurdles: 5. Clarissa Martinez, EHS 17.09
1600 relay: 6. North 4:16.46
Discus: 2. Cory Esparza, North 160-0
Shot Put: 4. Joey Galvan, EHS 47-2.5
High jump: 6. Adrian Flores, North 6-0
Long jump: 2. Danny Garcia, Econ 20-3.5; 3. Nelson Hampton, Econ 20-2.5
Pole vault: 6. Bryan Trevino, North 12-6
3200: 4. Luis Reyes, North 9:55.04
400 relay: 4. Econ 43.54
800: 2. Lucas Lozano, North 1:59.38; 3. Adrian Coronado, North 1:59.87
110 hurdles: 4. Jake Hrabacek, North 15.68
800 relay: 3. Econ 1:31.21
1600: 1. Luis Serrano, North 4:22.95; 2. Joe Morales, North 4:24.27
1600 relay: 4. Econ 3:29.62