BY TJ GARCIA

McALLEN — Three former Rio Grande Valley standouts posted top 10 finishes in four different races to help the University of Texas Longhorns women’s track team win the 2019 Big 12 outdoor track and field championship last weekend in Oklahoma.

Senior Alex Cruz (Edinburg High) and freshmen Valery Tobias (IDEA Quest) and Beth Ramos (Edinburg North) all ran well, picking up points in three of their four races. For the Longhorn women, the victory capped a Big 12 indoor and outdoor title sweep, the first time the Texas women have accomplished that since 2016 and record seventh time in league history.

Cruz, an established competitor who’s qualified for NCAA regionals and championships in her UT career, finished seventh in the 1500-meter run with at time of 4:24.17 and picked up two points. Additionally, she tallied two more points with a seventh-place finish in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 16:39.96.

Tobias, a three-time 3A high school state champion from Edinburg, ran the fourth-fastest time in the 800-meter run in prelims (among 23 competitors) with a 2:07.77 to qualify for the finals in her Big 12 debut. In the finals, she recorded a 2:12.68 to come in ninth place. Her time was just off her collegiate personal best.

Ramos, a 6A state qualifier in the 1600-meter and 3,200 meter runs, was also making her Big 12 debut. The freshman posted a time of 36:10.62, completed the race in 8th place and picked up one point for Texas. According to the timing service TFRRS, it was Ramos’ second best time of the year.

WESLACO’S SALINAS NEARLY WINS CONFERENCE USA TITLE

Sydney Salinas was an all-around track athlete at Weslaco High. Now at Division I University of North Texas, the sophomore is focused on the pole vault. At the Conference USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Charlotte, NC last weekend, Salinas cleared a personal best 12 feet, 10 inches to tie for first, but she eventually finished in second place on attempts.

Salinas beat her previous high mark of 12-4 set at the Conference USA indoor meet earlier this year, but had mainly vaulted in the high 11-foot range during the season. The top three vaulters were all freshmen, and Salinas has a freshman teammate that cleared 11-4. Conference USA is composed of D-I schools such as UTSA, Rice, Louisiana Tech, Marshall and UTEP.

ROWE’S GARCIA HAVING BANNER YEAR AT LAREDO CC

McAllen Rowe product Christina Garcia has been on tear ever since she entered the college ranks two years ago — first at Hill College, now at Laredo Community College. For the Palominos, the outfielder and designated player is batting .406, which is second-best on the Laredo CC team and ranks 175th among hundreds of players nationally, according to the NJCAA.

Also, Garcia has played in all 42 of the Palominos’ games and has cranked out 58 hits (including 13 doubles and 5 home runs), 34 RBIs and has stolen 11 bases this season. The sophomore is adding on to last year’s performance at Hill College, where she hit .456 with eight home runs and 24 RBIs in 40 games.

PSJA’S AGUILERA EARNS CONFERENCE AWARDS AT H-T

Former PSJA High standout Amanda Aguilera finished the 2019 season and her college career with a bang. The senior at Huston-Tillotson in Austin earned First-Team All-Conference and 2019 All-Tournament honors from the NAIA division Red River Athletic Conference for her performances in the circle and at the plate.

Aguilera, an infielder when not pitching, hit .333 this year and .325 for her three-year career at H-T. The 5-foot-1 right hander was 8-11 from the rubber this season. However, she cut her ERA in half from 2018 to a paltry 2.30 and nearly doubled her strikeouts to 123. For her career at H-T, Aguilera went 29-39 as a pitcher. This season she was also an ace in the field committing just one error in 78 total opportunities.