Season Recap: Outdoor Athletics
RIO GRANDE VALLEY – The 2022 outdoor athletics season helped the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley junior teams lay the foundation on which to build for years to come.
With a new group of coaches at the helm, the vaqueros developed and bought their own unique team culture, pushing each other to new heights along the way. It seemed that at each meeting a different event group shined the brightest, and healthy competition among Vaqueros student-athletes to make their group the best sparked consistent improvement throughout the season.
“The 2022 season was the foundation we needed to drive our future success. We overcame many adversities and established our own culture and traditions,” said the head coach Shareese Hicks said.
UTRGV started the season strong, setting 10 personal records at the Longhorn Invitational. Second sprinter Jermarrion Stewart and second launcher Michael Campbell combined to make three entries in the program record books in the 100-meter dash, discus and shot put.
At the Roadrunner Invitational, the vaqueros won five events, had 15 PRs, and made three other entries in the record books. Sophomore long-distance runner Samantha Gonzales and Ricardo Garcia made their season debuts in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and both brought home gold medals. second grader Marco Guajardo won the javelin and triple jump and sophomore Uxia Pereira Won the women’s 400m hurdles.
That momentum continued into the next meeting, where the Vaqueros set 18 personal records at the UIW Invitational. second grader Alex Munoz and jr Tristan Pena went ahead and won gold in the 5,000 and 1,500 meters respectively. Campbell won the shot put and discus and Redshirt Senior Christian Hall-Gardner won the hammer throw.
The Vaqueros steadily improved throughout the season, showing their confidence in the training of Hicks and her assistants Mike Embry, Cleo Borel and Travis Pope. Although Borel and Pope joined the program mid-year, their pitchers and distance runners quickly adapted to their processes and made strides midseason.
At the Western Athletic Conference Outdoor Championships, the Vaqueros earned five All-WAC honors. graduate student Ricardo Mendoza became an All-WAC First Team honoree after ending his career with a silver medal in the 800-meter dash, his second win at the event this season.
“Ricardo was our top performer in the men’s. He proved himself to be a real competitor and rose to an elite level of performance,” said Hicks.
Guajardo, Campbell, Hall-Gardner and Junior Julian Trevin All earned All-WAC Second Team recognition by placing sixth in the triple jump, shot put, hammer throw and javelin throw. second grader Alex Galvan and Vincent Nguyen finished eighth in the men’s decathlon and triple jump. The WAC Championship performance that stood out the most for Hicks was the women’s 400-meter relay Mikayla Roell, Elizabeth Ortiz, Daniela Muniz and Devon Goodwin take eighth place.
“After dealing with injuries and COVID-19, this relay team has not competed all year. They overcame and eventually scored in the conference championships,” Hicks said.
Gonzalez was 10thth in the Steeplechase at the WAC meeting, set another PR at that event and made it into the program record books for the third time this season. She was named UTRGV Breakout Athlete of the Year. Galvan’s performance in the decathlon and Trevino’s javelin throw at conference championships also made the program’s all-time best lists.
In all, the vaqueros entered the record books 15 times during the outdoor season. Campbell has done it the most, with four entries in the discus and two in the shot put. Trevino competed twice in the javelin. Stewart scored two of the program’s best performances and junior Yashawn Hamiltonwho missed a lot of time through injury recorded one, all in the men’s 100m.
Away from the competition, UTRGV Athletics has made an incredible impact on the community and classroom. The women’s team placed first among all NCAA DI women’s community service TF programs, while the men’s team placed second. They together for 490 engine hours. Both vaqueros teams were also recognized as USTFCCCA All-Academic Teams.
Hicks has been proud of the overall growth the Vaqueros have made over the course of the season, both in competition and away, and she looks forward to building on the foundation laid in 2022.
“We’ve seen the biggest growth in accountability,” Hicks said. “Our young men and women took ownership of their actions on and off the track, which improved our overall team culture. The team grew closer and learned the true definition of ‘student-athlete’.”