McHi track star heading to Duke

McHi track star Alejandro Rodriguez posing for photos at his college signing day celebration. He is seen posing next to his cutout poster donning his Duke University track and field uniform. Raul Garcia | The Monitor

McALLEN — McAllen High track and field standout Alejandro Rodriguez signed on the dotted line Friday confirming his intent to run track and field for the Duke University Blue Devils next year.

“This has been a big dream of mine for as long as I can remember,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez, a senior, was surrounded by family, friends and teachers at his signing day celebration held in the McAllen High gymnasium.

His coaches and mentors praised him for his accomplishments, and reminded him Duke will not be easy, to rely on the work ethic that got him there and never to forget his support system back home is rooting for his success.

Growing up, Rodriguez said he always dreamed of attending Duke. He fell in love with the school’s basketball program.

And for years heading into his high school freshman year, all Rodriguez did was bounce the basketball around and shoot hoops.

McAllen High track and field runner Alejandro Rodriguez is seen signing his letter of intent to run track for the Duke University Blue Devils next year. His mother Erica De La Garza Lopez and his father Marcos Lopez are at his side during his signing celebration McAllen High School on Friday in McAllen.
Raul Garcia | The Monitor

One other important choice Rodriguez made was to attend McAllen ISD’s International Baccalaureate program offered at the Lamar Academy to prepare his academic training to be a successful Duke student.

Rodriguez said the International Baccalaureate program was such an important aspect of why he is attending such a prestigious university like Duke.

Growing up Rodriguez had aspirations of playing for Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and hitting the big shot for the Blue Devils.
He had aspirations of playing for Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and hitting the big shot for the Blue Devils.

But it wasn’t “Coach K” who came calling for Rodriguez’s athletic ability. It was Duke track and field head coach Norm Ogilvie who ultimately offered him a spot on the team and the chance to continue Duke’s winning tradition in track and field.

“I’m looking forward to everything that the experience has to offer,” Rodriguez said about running for the Blue Devils.

Rodriguez will be running the 200- and 400-meter dash for Duke, he said.

Before heading to Tobacco Road in North Carolina to run track, Rodriguez has some unfinished business on the high school track and field stage.

“Alex, I am so proud of you, but you have a lot more to do,” McAllen High head coach Bob Bechtold said as he addressed Rodriguez and his audience. “We have some records to break, we have the area meet, regional meet and we have state to go too.”

Rodriguez’s personal record in the 200 meter is 22.1 seconds and 48.49 in the 400.

Since his sophomore campaign, Rodriguez has made appearances to the regional competition in the 200 and 400. As a junior, Rodriguez won the district championship and area championship in both the 200 and 400 meter.

Rodriguez said he didn’t realize his potential for running track until his freshman year when he joined the team to stay conditioned for basketball season.

He found instant success as a runner. After his coach moved him up to varsity for the area competition, he decided to put his basketball dreams on the shelf and concentrate on running track to one day become a Blue Devil.

To help him reach his goal and live and breathe being a “Dukie,” Rodriguez signed up for a Duke track and field camp his freshman year.

“It has been a dream of mine to run for Duke since my freshman year,” Rodriguez said. “I want to thank everyone who has supported me through this and it would not have been possible without everyone who is part of the McHi team.”

rgarcia@themonitor.com