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First baseman goes from Broncos to Broncs

July 1st, 2014

The UTPA baseball team has signed Correy Davis to a National Letter of Intent for the 2014-15 academic year June 16.

 

The Aubrey, TX native is coming to the Rio Grande Valley as a junior having previously played two seasons with the New Mexico Military Institute Broncos. While at NMMI Davis primarily played in the first baseman’s position for both seasons.

 

While at NMMI he held a .375 batting average, with 17 doubles, 48 runs scored, three triples and 42 RIB with three home runs. Davis also comes to the Broncs with 13 stolen bases, surpassing UTPA senior Alex Howe. He held the team record for the 2014 season for the most stolen bases standing at 12.

 

He has improved his performance since his freshman year at NMMI, originally hitting .261 with five doubles, three triples and one home run to his name. He had a 31 RBI, 21 runs scored and nine stolen bases.

 

“Correy is a terrific young man who also happens to be an excellent baseball player,” Head Baseball Coach Manny Mantrana said. “(He) is a middle of the line-up type…who can really hit. His baseball abilities and character will be a great asset to our team.”

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Beating the beast

June 10th, 2014

Mud pits, shallow pools and climbing towers filled the San Benito Fairgrounds June 1 as the Mid Valley events coordinated the fourth annual Hog Dash 5k. The event housed over 2000 participants and 4000 in total with spectators.

The Hog Dash is similar to popular alternative nationwide events such as Tough Mudder and The Spartan Race. The obstacles in these runs are considered extreme because of the stamina, endurance and team building required to complete the course. Certain obstacles require the help of complete strangers to complete, such as the warped wall, a 14-foot-tall near vertical wall that participants must run up, wooden towers to climb past and the log crawl, where individuals must surpass logs suspended over water by either running along or crawling.

It is these types of obstacles that appealed to Harlingen native Jesse Valdez. He considers the run to be a fun way to get out of the house and enjoy a day of non conventional physical activity.

“This is my second time doing this,” Valdez said. “(Events like this) keep me going. It’s motivation and I love doing this stuff. Everyone has that personal reason to do this but I do it for my health and for the Lord.”

Jonathan Bilton, a 26-year-old Weslaco native also participated in this year’s race. He is an all-around athlete who has competed out of state in similar events, such as The Spartan Race. He is a two-year veteran of the Hog Dash and has competed in a similar Rio Grande Valley event known as MudZilla which is a mud run and obstacle course race. According to Bilton he enjoys these types of events because they challenge him.

“All in all this is fun to do,” Bilton said. “It’s pushing yourself to the limits that you’ve never pushed yourself to. A lot of people are afraid to do that, but I enjoy it. There are events outside the Valley that are more intense and I’ve done those and once you finished you feel accomplished.”

Bilton is not alone in his feeling. He also ran with his friend Joshua Rodriguez, a fellow Weslaco native. Rodriguez is a Hog Dash veteran with two previous years participating in the run as well as several other similar courses.

Rodriguez participates with his friend not only because he enjoys the events but because every year is different. The obstacles change and vary; it’s a guessing game that he looks forward to being a part of.

“Your body never gets adjusted to it,” the 33-year-old said. “It never does. No matter how hard you train for it, it is still going to kick your butt. (This makes people) anxious and scared, they don’t think they can do it (but) as soon as you accomplish it you are ready to do another one.”

The event is designed to test a runner’s limits but coordinators of the event have made sure that everyone who wishes to participate can partake in the course. The groups of people that run it all at once can vary in fitness level. One wave is made up of only runners, another is a mix of runners and walkers and the final wave is for those who walked most of the course. There is also a special wave and path designed for children.

But that isn’t to say the course shouldn’t be challenging. Active participants look forward to the run every year and because of this the course has grown exponentially and changed throughout its four-year span. The jumps get longer and the walls get higher. This year the warped wall, also known as “The Beast” was 14-feet-tall and made nearly vertical. This obstacle is the final one before finishing the race and is considered the toughest.

In order to clear the obstacle participants take a running start and propel themselves up a nearly vertical wall, where other participants are waiting to help to pull those that reach the top over the railing, ending their run. Participants can take on the wall several times before either taking the sidewall, where steps are used to make it halfway or surpass it entirely.

Hog Dash veterans Bilton and Rodriguez each took their time at the last obstacle. Bilton pulled himself over in two tries while Rodriguez climbed it in four. According to the participants, though “The Beast” is the final obstacle it signifies what the Hog Dash is all about: physical athleticism and teamwork.

Now that the dash has completed its fourth year, it has shown no signs of slowing down. Last year the run attracted 1600 participants and the participation grew by over 400 more people. Because of the increase in this year’s participants runners like Bilton hope to make the dash a long standing tradition.

“This is a chance to get out here with friends,” Bilton said. “To do things and get together to actually have fun, and I would encourage a lot of people to do it.”

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One home run to rule them all

May 13th, 2014

One double header and 18 innings in the 100 degree heat had the Bronc baseball team striving for every strikeout and hit. But May 11 senior outfielder Andy Fortuna hit his first career home run during the final at bat of the series against the Sacramento State Hornets. The home run took the Broncs to a score of 2-0, taking the win against the Hornets at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium.

The Broncs played the Hornets May 9-11. They took a loss during the first game of the series. Originally the game was scheduled May 9 but was cut short due to weather, forcing the team to play a doubleheader May 10.

The Broncs were ahead 1-0, at the end of third but the Hornets took the lead. They scored three runs in the seventh, bringing UTPA pitcher, Sam Street his first and only loss in a year.

Despite the loss, Street remains optimistic. They have time to complete one more series and they are ready to finish out the season.

“Right now we are just looking forward to our last Western Athletic Conference tournament,” Street said. “That’s the next thing on the mind…fun times ahead.”

With the loss behind them, the Broncs completed their doubleheader May 10. Blake English, junior pitcher, took the mound in place of Street. English pitched a shutout, allowing only four hits, leading the Broncs to a decisive victory over the Hornets in the second game of the series, 2-0. English retired eight batters before hitting one and allowing for a walk to first. He retired another nine batters until the Hornets bunted the ball in the seventh.

The Broncs were then tied during the series 1-1, but Street knew he and his teammates could finish up the rest of the series.

“This just shows the group of guys we got,” Street said. “It is really exciting going forward into the postseason, (it goes to show) how successful we could be and I think we will be.”

Finally on senior night, May 11, the Broncs walked onto the field for their last home game of the series and season. Facing off against the Hornets for the last time made the game a back and forth stalemate, neither team allowing for any major plays to be made.

But in the ninth inning everything changed. Fortuna was up at bat, two Broncs before him had struck out and he was the last. After two balls and a miss, Fortuna swung high and left hitting his first home run of his career.

The game ended with a score of 2-0, for the Broncs. The crowd and the team went wild as Fortuna did a slow jog toward third base, losing his helmet in the process and meeting his teammates who waited for him at the home plate.

“It couldn’t have come at a better moment,” Fortuna said. “Bottom of the ninth, no runs. We needed it, we were already tired and for it to come at the moment was perfect.”

Though talent and hard work can’t be discounted, according to Fortuna, something else was at play. The team pulled out all the stops for their last home game and used all of their supernatural arsenal, all in the name of luck.

“We tried everything,” Fortuna said. “The water hose, we tried waking up the bats, we tried the worms, we tried changing our secret spots. We pulled out everything this game and sometimes that is what you have to do.”

In addition to the teams rituals, Fortuna, said he was using infielder Brian Ramirez’s bat, whose batting average is at .262 with a season total of 172 run batted ins.

“I give credit to his pop,” Fortuna said. “The ball just jumped off the bat and kept going.”

The Broncs have only one more series, facing off against Northern Colorado University in Greenly, Col. May 16. They will then head off to the WAC Tournament Championships and represent UTPA in Meza, Ariz. May 21-25.

 

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Weekly updates 4/10-17/2014

April 17th, 2014

TRACK AND FIELD

  • Broncs take top three spots in men’s and women’s hammer throw April 11 in the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinal Invitational at Tom Benson Track Stadium

  • Broncs had 12 top-five finishes April 12 in the Cardinal Invitational

  • Next event is April 17 at the Cal State LA Twilight Open in Los Angelas, Calif.

  • Next event is Mount Sac Relays April 17-19 in Walnut, Calif.

  • Next event is Long Beach State Invite April 19 in Norwalk, Calif.

BASEBALL

  • Won against Utah Valley University Wolverines 6-2 April 11 at Brent Brown Ballpark in Orem, Utah

  • Won against the Wolverines 13-0 ending in the seventh inning due to 10 run rule

  • Lost to the Wolverines 14-11 at Brent Brown Ballpark

  • Bryan Ramirez earns Western Athletic Conference Hitter of the Week

  • Next series is against Bakersfield April 25-27 at Edinburg Baseball Stadium

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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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What is the problem here?

March 27th, 2014

Former National Football League Head Coach and player Herm Edwards once said, “Players play to win the game.” If that saying rings true, then what is the problem with a teammate who is gay? If they show the work ethic that is necessary to win, would you treat them any differently?

Speaking as an athlete who competes in different leagues, played and continues to play various sports, winning should be the only thing that matters. At the end of every season athletes tend to care more about the win/lose column, striving for wins to outweigh the losses, and that the team at least had a chance to be called champions.

Throughout time people and sports have evolved. In 1946, Kenny Washington became one of the first African American professional football players, 26 years after the NFL was formed. Though a handful of blacks had played in the early days, this marked the first time in modern NFL history that an African American was paid to compete for a professional team, the Los Angeles Rams. As time passed he was able to change people’s perspective of “colored” athletes.

Now in 2014, Michael Sam Jr. made history by announcing his sexual preference Feb. 9, just three months before the NFL Draft. When ESPN featured Sam and his breaking news it quickly went to his University of Missouri teammates to ask about Sam’s “coming out.” Most of them talked about him being a great person, a workhorse on and off the field, and a person who came in and took care of business.

As a teammate, all you can ask for is a fellow player who is serious when it’s game time, a person not going to lollygag, someone who wants to be there – not just to play, but to win. Athletes of all types should be judged on work ethic and how they perform in the game.

The choices we make are our own and how we choose to handle the situation of a gay athlete varies from person to person. We have learned not to judge a man by the color of their skin, why can’t we do the same for athletes, regardless of sexual orientation?

Understandably, gay athletes must be aware of the media attention waiting when they make it known that they are openly gay. Some teammates may get annoyed or distracted by the media attention, but over time if every person on that team shows the media and everyone else that they are there to compete and win, then the day that these athletes admitted to the world that they are “gay and proud” will be a distant memory.

Times have changed but the end result has stayed the same, athletes want to be successful and have a chance at winning the championship. So does it really matter if your teammate is gay or straight? Is it going to change the way you prepare for a game?

If the team goal is to win the game or get to the championship then you’re not going to worry about who your teammate likes. The worry is to take care of business on the playing field, and to win.

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Weekly Updates 3/20-26/2014

March 27th, 2014

BASEBALL

  • Won 9-4 against New Mexico State University March 21 at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium

  • Lost 7-4 to the New Mexico State Aggies March 22

  • Lost 3-2 to the New Mexico State Aggies March 23

  • Lost 11-0 to Texas Christian University March 25 at Lupton Field in Fort Worth, Texas

  • Next game March 28 against Seattle University

 

WOMEN’S GOLF

  • Finished in 13th place at the Plantation Inn Intercollegiate in Crystal River, Fla.

  • Next match March 31-April 1 at the Husky Invitational in Missouri City, Texas

 

MEN’S TENNIS

  • Lost 4-3 to the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals March 21 at the Orville Cox Tennis Center

  • Lost 6-1 to the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners at the UTSA Tennis Center

  • Next match March 28 against the University of New Orleans in New Orleans, La.

 

WOMEN’S TENNIS

  • Won 5-2 against the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals March 21 at the Orville Cox Tennis Center

  • Next match is the WAC Championship April 25-27 in Las Cruces, N.M.

 

TRACK AND FIELD

  • Took seven first place finishes at the IBC Bank Cactus Cup in Kingsville March 22 at Javelina Stadium

  • Junior Leocajuan Williams named WAC Track and Field Athlete of the Week

  • Next match March 27-29 at the 87th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays in Austin, Texas

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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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Early 1960’s dynasty

December 4th, 2013

In 2011, the 1961 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Championship men’s tennis team was inducted into the University of Texas-Pan American Athletics Hall of Fame.

Members of that hall of fame team included current Hall members Ken Lang (HOF Class of 2009), John Sharpe (HOF Class of 2008) and Don Russell (HOF Class of 2007). Its other members were Harold Natho and Jim Watson.

“As a championship team or esteemed individuals, they each represent the proud tradition of Bronc Athletics,” former UTPA Director of Athletics Chris King said at the Hall of Fame ceremony in April 2011.

Although in 1960, in Kansas City, the Broncs could have won their first championship, they fell short against a Lamar Tech dynasty. The Beaumont school had won the previous five titles, and the Broncs took the national runner-up spot that season. The 1961 men’s tennis team was the first of five championship teams, in a row for the UTPA, or Pan American College as it was called then.

In 1961 and 1962 PAC took the championship, winning by 19 and 18 points over Southern Oklahoma. In ‘61 Sharpe won the NAIA national singles title as part of the team’s championship victory. Sharpe paired with teammate and fellow Hall of Fame member Russell to win the NAIA national title in doubles.

The Broncs’ closest victory came in 1964 when Corpus Christi University was four team points away from taking its first title.

The 1961 team was the first team to claim a national team title for the school. The 1960 unit was national runner-up but like any good team regrouped and went 12-4-1 overall the 1961 season, finishing first in the nation.

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broncs defeat Cardinals

December 1st, 2013

Sophomore, Shaquille Hines, had career-highs of 18 points and 11 rebounds in his first-career double-double. His performance lead the Broncs to victory against Lamar University Cardinals 66-61 Nov. 27 at the Montagne Center in Beaumont.

Hines was one of three Broncs (4-4) in double-figures. Javorn Farrell scored a game-high 22 points with six rebounds and one steal. senior Jamal Dantzler scored a season-high 10 points, five rebounds, one block and two steals, a career-high.

 

Marcus Owens of the Cardinals made a three-pointer that brought them within one point. After a Hines’ jumper gave the Broncs the lead, the Cardinals were not able to come close to the Broncs for the rest of the game.

The Broncs will be back in action Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. when they visit Bradley University in Peoria, IL.

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