EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) — More than a handful of Rio Grande Valley track standouts won gold medals at the UIL State Track and Field meet in Austin.
Only one came back to the RGV with multiple golds, Edinburg North’s San Juanita Leal.
Competing against and beating the best runners in the state is an experience she’ll never forget.
“To think I pulled it off in one day, it really amazed me,” Leal said. “It’ll stay in my memory forever.”
The junior had to run the 6A 3200-meter run twice because the first attempt was halted by a weather delay.
“We were already halfway through,” Leal said. “This is time to make my move, pick up the pace and then they just called it off.”
Once the weather cleared up, Leal switched her soaked socks and gave it another go.
“Really physical,” Leal said. “Kept getting tripped and elbowed a bit. I didn’t know how fast I was going that last lap, I was just trying to take off and get over it and come back with the win. I pulled it off.”
Leal won the race with a time of 10:19.19.
She doubled her medal haul in the 6A 1600-meter run.
Leal edged the second-place finisher by just over a second with a time of 4:47.36.
“It’s a lot of work,” said Edinburg North distance coach Homer Martinez. “Not something that happens in spring and fall. It starts in June. Preparing these kids for the long haul.”
Leal, surprised herself with her outstanding performance in Austin.
“Last year, I came up short not medaling,” Leal said. “Coming back with gold was shocking. That was really my expectation for senior year to come back with that. A year early doesn’t hurt.”