TJ GARCIA | SPECIAL TO THE MONITOR
McALLEN — Gabby Torres, a senior at UTSA, has been a work in progress, and now she’s beginning to see the fruits of her labor.
The multi-track and field athlete from Port Isabel claimed the gold medal in the pentathlon event at the Conference USA Indoor Track & Field Championship in February. Torres posted a personal best 3,722 points, taking the title as best athlete in a conference that includes Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Southern Miss and other Division I schools.
Torres has steadily improved her performances in each of the five events since her freshman year — boosting her point total incrementally, as well. At the conference indoor meet last year, she placed fifth and scored 3,645 points, and in 2017, she notched a seventh-place finish.
“I think it felt like all the hard work and everything that I’ve put into this sport finally paid off,” Torres said. “I’ve worked harder and harder every year to progressively get better and to win the gold my senior year was exactly what I was striving to do. I didn’t come into college as the most talented or best athlete in the pentathlon, but I worked hard year after year to do what I did this year at the conference meet.”
This year, the 5-foot-8 Torres scored 715 points to win the long jump event with a leap of 18 feet, 2 inches. She picked up two second places in the 800-meter run and the high jump. Those finishes added a combined 1,541 points to her total. She took third in the 60-meter hurdles with a personal best 8.96 seconds (and 910 points) and then added 556 more points by posting a 34-02 mark in the shot.
Torres performed well leading up to last month’s indoor conference meet with several top 10 and top five finishes in several different events — indoor and outdoor. The Conference USA indoor title is her first. The outdoor season, in which she does the heptathlon, begins this weekend.
LOREDO FILLING UP BOX SCORE IN KINGSVILLE
Former McAllen Memorial baseball star Manny Loredo is putting up All-Conference numbers again at the plate and in the field. Through 17 games this year (one third of the season), Loredo is batting .397 with 16 RBIs, second on the team in both categories. The 5-foot-8 outfielder also has two home runs, four doubles and has scored 15 runs for the Javelinas.
Loredo, a UTRGV transfer, has stuck out just eight times in 58 at bats. The senior has walked nine times. And he’s up to usual stellar play in the field, which helped him garner All-Lone Star Conference honorable mention last season. In 2019, Loredo has made every play. He’s got 27 put outs in 27 chances for a perfect fielding percentage.
WESLACO’S ESCAMILLA ON FIRE AS FRESHMAN
Former Weslaco High Panther Alyssa Escamilla hasn’t needed any extra time to adjust to college ball in her first year at Temple College. The 5-foot-5 shortstop is batting an eye-popping .536, which is just one of several offensive categories where she ranks nationally (27th in batting average according to the NJCAA). In 19 games, the leadoff hitter has scored 39 runs ranking her fifth best in the country among junior colleges.
Escamilla’s 37 hits rank her 19th and her 18 stolen bases rank her 15th. What’s more, the right-hander that bats left has not hit into a double play in 19 games and 80 plate appearances. The contact hitter has struck out just five times. Temple College, the 2018 NJCAA National Champion, was 20-4 overall and 4-0 in conference through last weekend. The Leopards were ranked No. 3.
ROWE’S JACKSON HELPING ‘SAVE’ UTRGV BASEBALL
Senior Ryan Jackson has a defined role for the UTRGV Vaqueros’ baseball team. He’s the closer — the guy who comes in the end of games to shut down the opponent and earn a save. So far, so good. The right-handed Jackson had seven saves in all of 2018, the McAllen Rowe product already has three this year in eight appearances for the 11-5 Vaqueros.
The 5-foot-10 Jackson sports a spartan 2.08 ERA in 13 innings pitched. He’s surrendered 14 hits and six runs while walking two but striking out 21. Jackson has held opponents to a .269 batting average (52 at bats) and has allowed just one double, one walk and no home runs. Also key is that Jackson is holding batters to .265 from the plate when runners are on and .167 when there are two outs.
MEMORIAL’S JOHNSON ALL-CONFERENCE AND TOP NEWCOMER
William Woods University men’s basketball player David Johnson Jr. was named the 2018-19 American Midwest Conference Newcomer of the Year, the NAIA conference office announced recently. On top of being tabbed the Newcomer of the Year, the 6-foot-6 Johnson, a McAllen Memorial graduate, earned First Team All-Conference honors.
Johnson, a junior, led the Owls in scoring with 457 points on the season. He recorded seven double-doubles and 10 games in which he scored 20 or more points. He broke the WWU season blocks record with 43, ranking him 21st in NAIA Div. I for blocks. He ranked fifth in the AMC and 21st in the NAIA for blocks per game. He ranked second on the team in rebounds with a total of 181. He was named AMC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week one time this season.