Weekly UTPA Sports Updates 3/30- 4/2/2014

April 3rd, 2014

Baseball

Lost to the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders 15-7 April 2 at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium.

 

Women’s Golf

Junior Melissa Bernal finished in a tie for 17th place at the Husky Invitational April 1 at the Riverbend Country Club in Sugarland, Tx.

 

Men’s Golf

Finished their final round with a 304. For a ninth place finish at the ULM Wallace Jones Invitational on April 1 at the Southern Pines Golf Club in CALHOUN, La.

 

Men’s Tennis

Lost against the University of Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns March 30, 1-6 at the Cajun Courts in Lafayette, La.

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Embracing the green and orange

March 20th, 2014

Just as UTPA and the University of Texas at Brownsville prepare for next year’s transition to The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, the City of Edinburg has found a way to demonstrate support for the University.

The first official UTPA Day took place Friday, Feb. 28 and UTPA students, their families and Edinburg residents were encouraged to wear a UTPA T-shirt or the University colors, green and orange. Local businesses including Edinburg H-E-B grocery stores and Doctors Hospital at Renaissance have pledged to participate in future UTPA Days, which will be the last Friday of every month.

The Edinburg City Council approved UTPA Day Feb. 18. Three of the five council members, including Mayor Richard H. Garcia, Mayor Pro Tem Elias Longoria Jr. and council member J.R. Betancourt, are Edinburg natives and UTPA graduates.

According to Irma Garza, the City of Edinburg’s director of public information, the idea came from the Edinburg Marketing Committee, made up of 15 representatives from local organizations including the City of Edinburg, the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce and UTPA.

“We believe in the work that the University is doing and we want them to know we are proud,” said Garza, a 2010 UTPA graduate. “What better way to improve our way of life than through education? I believe that education is the way.”

Simon Reyes, who has lived in Edinburg all of his life, said he thinks it is important for the University to have support from the community.

“It’s a win-win for each of us because Edinburg is benefitting because it’s producing college graduates for this area,” said the 21-year-old.

Jessica Quezada, a UTPA student and caterer at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, has lived in Edinburg for 10 years. She has not seen UTPA Day incorporated into her workplace, but she said she would wear the colors on that day.

“If we get more help from the city, it’s better, and people will want to come here into Edinburg, live here and go to UTPA,” the freshman said.

According to Garza, the hope is that not only local businesses, but the entire Rio Grande Valley, will embrace UTPA Day, especially now that the University will become UT-RGV.

“The long-term goals are to change the colors and mascot and ultimately to be able to have markers along the expressway to show that this is the home of the University,” Garza said. “Also signs or a statue depicting the mascot are for the mayor and community to decide.”

For now, this new tradition is Edinburg’s way of showing support for the 87 years that the University has provided a local means of higher education, Garza said.

Universities across the country in what are known as “college towns” receive support from the surrounding community, according to U.S. News & World Report, which published a list of “10 Great College Towns” in June 2010. A few of the cities listed are Austin, Berkeley, Calif. and Boston. According to the magazine, college towns are known for displaying the school colors and mascot around the city, and for instilling school spirit in visitors and local residents.

UTPA sophomore and Edinburg H-E-B employee Sebastian Garza said he thinks Edinburg needs to provide that sort of assistance for UTPA. He said he is proud to attend the University and plans to participate at work for the next UTPA Day.

“You know how Texas A&M  has its College Station, and the whole city around it is all filled with colors,” said the 19-year-old accounting major. “I feel that our city should be more oriented to how our college is doing and to be more of a college city than just a normal city.”

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Double header upset for Arlington

March 11th, 2014

Early on the UTPA Broncs baseball team has taken home a three-game winning streak against the Arlington Baptist Patriots. The game ended in a double header March 8.

The Broncs last game against the Patriots allowed for a 4-2 victory at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium. Originally, the game was meant to spread from March 7-9. But because of bad weather heading toward the Rio Grande Valley, Saturday’s game was turned into a double header, forcing the Broncs and the Patriots to play a total of 18 innings with only a 40 minute prep time in-between.

According to the Bronc third basemen, Alberto Morales, the team held together through the day. It was not easy but in the end its what they had to do.

“Anytime you get three wins on a weekend its good,” Morales said. “These (doubleheaders) are just a mental grid. You know you got to play 18 innings and you just got to grind it out. Fatigue is going to kick in but the mental side is the strong side.”

While the Broncs ended their back-to- back weekend, Kyle Tokunaga had his first start of the season against the Patriots March 8. He pitched a total of seven innings and led the team to a 5-2 game against their opponents.

“It felt pretty good,” Tokunga said. “Went out there, threw a lot of strikes, threw a lot of ground balls and that’s what you got to do when you go pitch, you got to give your team a chance to win. Getting strikes-that’s what is going to do it.”

With their noses to the grindstone, the Broncs pulled through against the Patriots but know that they still have a whole season ahead of them. With their first Weastern Athletic Conference game coming up, Morales and his team are eager to move up in the ranks of this new conference.

“We are excited for our first WAC weekend, which is coming up two weeks from now (March 21).” Morales said. “It’s exciting and we are ready to play. As a team we are just trying to win a WAC championship…first year will be a big deal for us…but that is what I am looking forward to.”

Although the Broncs ended this spring break weekend with a win they will head out on a 7 game road trip starting March 11-12. The first stop will be College Station, where they will battle it out against the Texas A&M University Aggies for the first time this season.

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Eight-minute donation

February 6th, 2014

Quick and quiet breaths come one after another as the phlebotomist says to stay calm and relax. She takes a light blue tourniquet and places it up above the crook of an elbow. “Breath,” she says, taking note of the blue vein as it begins to swell. Then there is a slight pinch, and a quick prick of pain as the needle hits home. Eight minutes later a bag of blood and plasma sit separated on a sterile white table.

 

This is the process of a simple blood donation. A process each of the Bronc baseball players went through in honor of Nolan Naranjo and Jiada Grace Ortiz, Jan. 30 at the UTPA Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex.

 

The drive was held by United Blood Services and is not solely for Ortiz and Naranjo, but the two have been sponsored by the team in the past with not only two previous blood drives but a bone marrow drive as well.

 

Both children are from the Rio Grande Valley were diagnosed with a type of rare bone marrow disease known as Aplastic Anemia. The illness affects the bone marrow the patient; this causes them to stop producing enough red blood cells and white blood platelets.

 

UTPA Assistant Coach Norberto Lopez explained that the blood drive was in honor of the children and marked another chance for the team, as a whole, to give back.

 

“We have been able to help a couple of kids in the past,” Lopez said. “They had some real rare blood disease…(Head Coach Manny Mantrana) wants to teach the guys, he wants to make sure that we teach them that it isn’t just about us and our lives. (It’s about) going every day and making sure that we are giving back and helping out.”

 

This event is by no means the first or last of its kind. This is the third year in a row that the Broncs have hosted the drive.

 

Recently, the baseball players paired with members of the women’s basketball team to host a bone marrow drive in November. The bone drive held Nov. 13 was to sponsor Naranjo, who was diagnosed with Pre-leukemia and was in need of a transplant.

 

Andy Fortuna, a Bronc outfielder, was present and donated at the January drive. He feels that he and the team should hold themselves to a standard where the community is also a priority.

 

“This is to set an example to the rest of the community,” the senior physical therapy major said. “If they see a group of guys in jerseys donating blood they will come around. Being a part of the University everyone looks at us in a certain way, we always try to set an example to everybody else.”

 

According to Fortuna this is a belief that the coaching staff has instilled in these players and has made the team what it is.

His coaches agree.

 

”We have been doing this for four years,” Lopez said. “And we might have a special group, cause they never complain. I’ve seen guys that are scared of needles and they are freaking out, they are almost turning white, but they still want to do it. And I think that is a testament to Coach Mantrana; he really preaches to them and tells them about giving back.”

 

Whether it is the ideals instilled in them by their coaching staff or peer pressure that keep them donating, the end, even first-timers see the value.

 

Jesus Garcia, a shortstop for the team, said sometimes it’s the little things that matter, and taking time out of their days to donate is a small price to pay.

 

”This was my first time,” Garcia said. “And you really don’t feel much. It did not bother me at all, it was for a good cause. We are doing a small part for something big and this is what we are doing, each of us, It will contribute little by little to something big.”

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Broncs rush past Chicago

January 21st, 2014

UTPA women’s basketball team gave the Chicago State University Cougars a fast paced game Jan. 18. Midway through the game the broncs went on a 16 point run to pull off a win at the UTPA Field House 66-44.

Currently the Bronc season record now stands even 9-9, 3-2 season record in the Western Athletic conference.

The game was at a standstill as the Broncs fought off the Cougars. But Kaelynn Boyd, a sophomore, scored a three pointer, starting the 16 point run. Then junior Tonashia Walker hit seven straight points using two free throws, a three pointer and one layup.

The Broncs kept up the momentum as Charrell Price scored another three pointer and Brittany Bush went for a free throw. Scoring Shawnte Goff ended the run 42-27.

All in all Goff scored a total of 18 points, junior Jasmine Thompson scored 10 and Bush came close to a double double with nine points and 12 rebounds.
With this win in hand the Broncs will now face off at home against New Mexico State, Jan. 25, at the UTPA Field House.

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Location for new medical school in discussion

January 17th, 2014

One month ago, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling and City Commissioner Mike Perez started discussing the possibility of purchasing the 35.14-acre lot, with a price tag of $4.7 million, on the corner of Dove Street and Jackson Road. The land may be given to the new University, University of Texas- Rio Grande Valley, and used as a possible location for the new medical school, according to The Monitor.

This vision became more of a reality after the McAllen City Commission voted Jan. 14 to continue with the purchase of the land.

According to The Monitor, the close proximity to Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance makes the land more attractive as the University of Texas medical school has plans to partner with the hospital for their medical residency program, the on-site training earned by medical school graduates.

Across the street from Pharr’s strip club, Tex Mex, the location also sits on the border of McAllen, Pharr and Edinburg, making it a centralized locale. In addition, its close proximity to Expressway 281 makes it accessible to students.

While this decision is not set in stone, the University of Texas System will make the final decision as to where the location of the new medical school will be. When the UT system will make this decision is still unknown.

“I think ultimately, at the end of the day, UT will decide where everything will go,” businessman Alonzo Cantu told The Monitor. “Not McAllen or anyone else.”

 

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Spring Preview 2014

January 13th, 2014

Picture 4 253x300 Spring Preview 2014

 

Picture 7 226x300 Spring Preview 2014

 

Picture 3 230x300 Spring Preview 2014

 
Picture 8 300x193 Spring Preview 2014

 
Picture 10 300x181 Spring Preview 2014

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Bronc’s trample Mavericks

December 20th, 2013

The University women’s basketball swept in a win against the University of Texas at Arlington with a score of 75-63 at the Field House Dec. 18. After the win the team is now tied for the best season start in program history at 6-4.

The win was much needed after two back- to-back losses against Texas A&M and Texas Christian University, stated Shawnte’, Goff a guard for the Broncs.

“We came out and did what we needed to do,” Goff said. “We didn’t play good at TCU, we didn’t do good at Corpus, so we knew we had to come out and get this win.”

On top of the win the team put forward a season high of 11 three pointers, fourth highest in program history. Goff scored seven of those totaling her career-game high of 25 points. Trailing behind her was Jasmine Thompson who scored a game high of 22 points with five rebounds and three steals.

Goff and Thompson lead the team in scoring but at first the team struggled as they were down 28 to 15 with 10:30 seconds left in the first half. But the Bronc’s held tough and eventually caught up and pilled within one point with only 7 minutes left in the first half. UTA however, still held on to the lead until Goff scored a three pointer tying the game in the second half at 41, and the rest is history.

As Tonisha Walker, a guard explains they struggled at first due to one of their top scorers being out due to a broken toe.

“We all had to step up and contribute,” Walker said. “We have depth as a team and we will pull out in the end.”

Despite the setback of an injury and rocky start to their game the Bronc’s prevailed and will face off against the University of Nebraska at Omaha in Wichita, Ks. Dec. 21.

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Green vs White at UTPA

December 9th, 2013

The University men’s and women’s track and field teams hosted the the Green and White Alumni Meet Dec. 6. The teams got their first taste of friendly competition at the UTPA Track and Field Complex.

 

The athletes were split into two teams, Green and White, and competed against each other in various track and field events, such as the discus throw, hammer throw and track events, such as the long jump, mile run and the 300 meter hurdles.

 

Despite Team White’s efforts, Team Green took the win for the second year in a row with 136.5 points and white lost with a total of 109.5.

Admission was free for all and the meet went from 2-6:30 p.m. The whole point of the meet was to engage the track and field teams and some friendly competition. That is what kept the day going as the winter weather hit Dec. 6 with full force.

 

The temperature dropped to a crisp 40 degrees, plus wind chill. Kadine Johnson, track and field assistant coach, said the weather alone was cold but was even more frigid in athletic gear primed for movement, such as track shorts and UTPA track T-shirts.

 

“The cold is really making a big impact, mainly because we are so used to practicing in the heat,” Johnson said. “But it’s always a good learning experience because you never know what you are going to face out in a track meet. We are trying to get used to it.”

 

Edmundo Mata, a freshman on the track and field team, participated in several events during the meet, including the long jump and the high jump, where he took first.  Though he felt the weather was a bit bothersome, he did not consider it much of a big deal. He was just happy to get to compete amongst his fellow athletes.

 

“(Today) felt good. It’s the first time we do a full (competition), so it was fun to see where we are at, where our standings are,” Mata said. “It brings us together,cause prior (to the meet) we all get to talk a little bit of smack…we get to take a look at each other because a lot of us are freshmen, or just new, so we haven’t seen each other actually compete before.”

 

With all the fresh new faces on the team, Head Coach Xavier Richardson felt the meet allowed the athletes to showcase their talents and to bond as a team for the upcoming season.

 

“We have a lot of sprinters and jumpers that have been training all fall and they haven’t really had the chance to compete,” Richardson said. “But I’ve seen a lot of great things, a lot of good throwing, good jumping and good sprinting, so we are very excited about where our indoor season will take us.”

 

Now that the team has had their first taste of competition, they will be headed out to the start of their season Jan. 17 at the Texas Team Invitational in College Station.

 

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Safety first

December 5th, 2013

Victoria Villela remembers being flipped over when she was hit by a car on campus Nov. 6. The alum was at the crosswalk between Parking Lot C and the Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex, crossing Sugar Road, when a gold Chevrolet Suburban failed to yield at the crosswalk and struck her right knee, causing her to flip over. According to a police statement, the vehicle’s driver said he did not see Villela until he struck her.

“I have never gone through something so traumatic. The accident plays in my head every night before I go to bed,” said Villela, a May 2013 UTPA graduate with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and public relations. “Since I did not blackout, I saw and heard everything as I flipped and hit the ground. A few days later after the accident, my father and I drove past the crosswalk and I freaked. I started panicking and crying. It is hard to walk by or across it. I get this eerie feeling as if something is going to happen again.”

Keeping the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers in mind to prevent future accidents, the city of Edinburg has put a bike box and traffic signal on the conjunction of University Drive and Joe Ochoa Avenue. The box is the first of its kind in the Rio Grande Valley and allows visibility of all cyclists by requiring drivers to stop behind the 24-inch stop bar. The traffic signal became operational Nov. 18.

Roger Stearns, chief of police for the UTPA Police Department, said crossing from University Drive to Joe Ochoa Avenue is a lot like playing Frogger, a popular 1980s arcade game that involves directing a frog back to its home by avoiding cars on a busy road.

“So I play Frogger and wait for cars and get to the center island,” Stearns said. “When I meet halfway with students who are coming from the other direction, we congratulate each other on making it halfway across the street and wish them well on the other half. So I’m very excited for pedestrian safety purposes that there is something in between Sugar and Nevarez [also known as 4th Street] and will now allow students to cross safely at the main entrance of our campus.”

The most important aspect of pedestrian and driver safety, Stearns said, deals with traffic enforcement on campus.

“I have asked officers to pay particular attention to vehicles who are failing to yield for pedestrians at crosswalks,” he explained. “It is important to have traffic enforcement because if drivers think there’s a negative consequence or possibility of getting a ticket, are they going to run the red light? Probably not.”

Records show that one auto-cyclist accident and one auto-pedestrian accident occurred in 2012, according to James Loya, assistant chief of police at the University.

As a pedestrian, Jaime Ramos said he feels safe on campus, but admits that it depends on the traffic flow and driver.

“I feel as though there are many types of drivers,” the biology major said. “Some pay more attention than others, but overall, I feel like those in the area pay attention pretty well, except when it gets busy. It seems like one end is constantly going and never has the courtesy to let the other (vehicle or pedestrian) pass. This can get frustrating and causes people to drive recklessly.”

Commuting from The Palms Apartments to campus on bike, Francisco Garza said he has to always keep an eye out for drivers.

“I’ve been close to having an accident several times,” the political science and history double major said. “I lost count. But at crosswalks and lights, I’ve been close to being run over by idiot drivers because most drivers are not cautious.”

Garza said he hopes the traffic signal will help make the community a safer place for both pedestrians and cyclists.

“We live in a community exclusively for drivers,” Garza said. “And not pedestrians or cyclists, unfortunately. Hopefully our community in the near future becomes a friendly place for cyclists and pedestrians.”

Villela’s crosswalk accident resulted in torn cartilage in her knee and five stitches in the back of her head. She had surgery Nov. 20 to repair the damage in her knee. To prevent incidents like this from happening again, the UTPA Police Department plans to do more to increase pedestrian and cyclist safety on campus.

Later on in the academic year, the University’s Police Department plans to initiate a safety campaign that involves partnering with student organizations to help raise awareness of pedestrian, cyclist and driver safety precautions, according to Stearns.

“Pay attention,” he said. “Pay attention to your surroundings. Drivers, pay attention to pedestrians and cyclists. And I see the majority of students who pay too much attention to their smartphones and not enough attention to their surroundings. I think that inattention that we have due to the convenience of our communication devices is becoming as much as a danger as driving while intoxicate.”

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