Listening to our track and field coaches gush over the departing Oscar Rodriguez made me realize how lucky Del Rio has been when it comes to its track and field athletes.
While it’s true that Rodriguez was the first state champion in Del Rio track and field in decades, that doesn’t tell the full story of the program from the little town on the Rio Grande. We don’t have multi-million dollar facilities or specialized private coaches who drag every ounce of talent from our athletes. We have an amazing group of coaches, and have had them for years, that develop true kinships with their athletes and turn into more than just a coaching relationship but a true family feel.
I was thinking back to all the track athletes I recall as being legends in the years that I’ve been with the paper. I can’t name them all, because I’m sure I would forget some, but there are a few that will always stand out because to me, they set the bar for others to follow.
I remember how Del Rio was this pipeline to Texas A&M. The three names that always stand out to me were Crystal McBrady, Javier Olivas and Craig Nunley.
Nunley competed in the pole vault, McBrady was a multi-event competitor in the 100 meters, triple jump and long jump, and Olivas was a thrower. It was those three student-athletes that I always think about when I’m asked about the success of our student-athletes in track at the next level.
However, I know they aren’t the only ones, but they cast a long shadow that many others have strived to follow. Some, like Rodriguez and thrower Mark Covos, who was a medalist in the shot put in 2013, have set their names in the Del Rio record books by reaching the medal podium at the state meet. Others achieved their mark by just competing for multiple years in college where it’s a true test of student-athletes because of so many legal hoops and lines they have to watch and be careful not to cross.
I often wonder how often those legends of the past think about those days and I wonder if they’d ever want to come back and share those experiences with our current athletes and remind them all that work, all that time on buses and competing in the sun can truly pay off and lead them to bigger and better things.
We are blessed here in Del Rio to have the people we do. Would it be great to have a larger weight room or field house or state-of-the-art training and injury rehabilitation center at our high school? Obviously, but the facilities and staff we have are doing well and our athletes are responding.
The next great track and field athlete is out there. Maybe one of our current runners, throwers or jumpers is going to have a banner season in 2019-20 and bump someone from the record books before the school year is done.
And if that happens, I hope they’re prepared to share their story with fellow Rams and Queens and understand that what they’ve done is special no matter where they call home.
It just feels more special here in Del Rio.
Brian Argabright is the sports editor at the Del Rio News-Herald, where he has worked for the last 22 years.