The 2024 high school track and field season came to an end this past weekend, with a combined 28 individuals and four relay teams competing at the UIL and TAPPS state track and field championships.

From that group, five individuals earned state crown, including a pair of double champs. Another five individuals managed to reach the podium in their respective events, bringing the RGV’s state medal count for the 2024 season to 13.

Here’s a look at each individual to reach the podium during the three days of competition in Austin and Hewitt.


Edinburg North senior distance runner San Juanita Leal. (Andrew Cordero | Special to RGVSports)

SAN JUANITA LEAL, SR., EDINBURG NORTH: No RGV competitor reached the podium more times during either of the two meets taking place this past weekend than Leal.

The Texas A&M signee entered Saturday’s competition as a state qualifier in three events after earning regional titles in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs two weeks prior at the regional meet.

Leal made the most of her three state berths, reaching the podium in each, including back-to-back UIL 6A state crowns in the 1,600 and 3,200.

The Cougars’ distance runner opened her final high school meet by defending her state title in the 3,200, setting a personal-best time of 10 minutes, 2.1 seconds to break her own Valley record.

She followed it with a bronze-medal performance in the 800, an event she added to her plate this season. Leal clocked in at 2:08.88 during the race, just .24 seconds short of her personal best.

Leal put the final touches on a decorated four-year career during the 6A girls 1,600, setting another personal best and breaking her own RGV record with a time of 4:42.30 en route to her second gold medal of the day.

Edinburg North’s San Juanita Leal celebrates moments after winning the gold in the 1600 meter run during the UIL Track and Field State Championships at Mike A. Myers Stadium on Saturday, May 4, 2024, in Austin. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

The Edinburg North senior wraps up her career with five state track medals under her belt, including a pair of golds in the 1,600 and 3,200.

It feels so surreal,” Leal said. “My freshman self would have been so shocked at this. From not even qualifying for state back then, to medaling in three events and defending my state titles as a senior. I’m so grateful and really happy to be able to run again here.”


Harlingen High senior thrower Jazmine Thompson. (Andrew Cordero | Special to RGVSports)

JAZMINE THOMPSON, SR., HARLINGEN HIGH: The third time was the charm for Thompson, who reached the podium during her third state meet appearance for the first time in her career.

Thompson didn’t just reach the podium during her final meet, she reached the top of the mountain, winning the Class 6A girls shot put title.

The Cardinals’ thrower saved her best throw of the season for her final high school meet, recording a personal-best mark of 47 feet, 8 inches on her second attempt of the day to secure the state crown. The attempt was more than one foot farther than the next closest competitor.

Harlingen High senior Jazmine Thompson competes in the Class 6A girls shot put during Day 3 of the UIL state track and field championships Saturday at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin. (Joel Martinez | The Monitor)

Thompson capped her senior season by competing in the Class 6A girls discus, finishing sixth with a throw of 142-6. The Harlingen High senior nearly made her way on to the podium on her final attempt of the meet, but the mark was ultimately not measured after being labeled a scratch.

The Wake Forest signee finishes her career as a three-time state qualifier, with her gold medal also making her the first Harlingen High female athlete to win a state title in track and field.

“It feels amazing,” Thompson said. “I’ve been working for this for three years. Finally coming here and getting the gold, third time’s a charm. I’ve been through it. Senior year was hard. I guess I just let everything come out of me on that throw. It was kind of an accident. After I realized it was good. I just ended up breaking out.”



Grulla senior thrower Fatima Montes. (Andrew Cordero | Special to RGVSports)

FATIMA MONTES, SR., GRULLA: Montes waited four years to make her state debut, with her season ending in the district meet as a freshman and at the regional meet during her sophomore and junior years.

The Gators’ senior broke through this season, winning District 32-4A, Area 31/32-4A and Region IV-4A titles en route to her first state meet appearance.

Montes made the most of her lone state berth, reaching the podium with a silver-medal performance in the 4A girls discus during Day 1 of the UIL state track and field championships.

The Grulla thrower only recorded two throws during the state competition, scratching on her four other attempts. That was all Montes needed, however, with her mark of 132-4 good enough to capture second place.

Montes also added a fifth-place finish in the Class 4A girls shot put during the state meet with a throw of 39-3.25.

Grulla senior Fatima Montes competes in the 4A girls discus during Day 1 of the UIL state track and field championships Thursday at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin. (Joel Martinez | The Monitor)

She finishes her career as a three-time district champion in the discus, a one-time district shot put champ, and area and regional title holder in both events this year.

“This is definitely a dream come true,” Montes said. “At the start of this season, I had this down as a goal for myself. I just worked hard every single day, including practicing hard on the weekends. It definitely has been a long process, but it worked in my favor. I feel very emotional. It feels surreal. I never believed I’d be here. To medal in this big of a competition, it is a dream come true.”


La Feria senior distance runner Liana Navarro. (Andrew Cordero | Special to RGVSports)

LIANA NAVARRO, SR., LA FERIA: Navarro made her first state appearance as a freshman in 2021, just missing out on the podium that year in the 1,600 and 3,200, finishing fourth in both events.

The Lionettes’ distance runner broke through as a sophomore, winning the bronze in the Class 4A girls 3,200 in 2022.

Last year, however, Navarro finished fifth in the same event, leaving her hungry for a podium return during her final season.

The four-time state qualifier did just what she set out to do, wrapping up her high school career by winning the bronze in the 4A girls 3,200.

La Feria senior Liana Navarro competes in the Class 4A girls 3,200-meter run during Day 1 of the UIL state track and field championships Thursday at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin. (Joel Martinez | The Monitor)

Navarro ends her four-year run with the Lionettes as one of the Valley’s most decorated runners, leaving as a four-time state track qualifier and a two-time state bronze medalist.

“Last year I was a little disappointed after going from the podium as a sophomore to fifth place as a junior,” Navarro said. “Getting back to the podium and earning a medal my senior year, it made me really happy. I worked so hard for this. I’m just really proud of myself.”


La Feria sophomore distance runner Armando Morales. (Andrew Cordero | Special to RGVSports)

ARMANDO MORALES, SO., LA FERIA: Morales was the RGV’s lone male state qualifier to reach the podium during the three-day meet in the UIL and TAPPS state meets, taking home the bronze in the UIL Class 4A boys 3,200.

The Lions’ distance runner entered the state meet motivated after having to watch his twin, Anthony, make his state debut without him last season.

Armando ended up beating his brother for the bronze during his state debut this year, coming just .006 seconds ahead of Anthony to earn a spot on the podium.

The La Feria sophomore also competed in the Class 4A 1,600 during the state meet, finishing fifth in the event with a time of 4:19.39.

La Feria sophomore Armando Morales (8) competes in the Class 4A boys 3,200-meter run during Day 1 of the UIL state track and field championships Thursday at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin. (Joel Martinez | The Monitor)

Armando and Anthony enter next season as two of the top returning distance runners not only in the RGV but in the state after qualifying for the state meet in both cross country and track as individuals.

“Of course, last year motivated me,” Armando said. “It just sucked seeing him run and not being to be out there with him. Today just being able to stand next to him and race with him, it gave me so much motivation coming into this race.”



La Villa junior distance runner Kaycei Salazar. (Andrew Cordero | Special to RGVSports)

KAYCEI SALAZAR, JR., LA VILLA: An injury nearly derailed Salazar’s junior track season one year after earning a pair of medals at the state meet as a sophomore.

The 2023 Class 2A girls 1,600 champion wouldn’t let her injuries hold her back from competing, however, and she qualified for the state meet in the 1,600 and 3,200 once again.

While Salazar was unable to defend her state title from a year ago, the junior distance runner still managed to reach the podium in the event, capturing the silver with a time of 5:15.54.

Salazar also was the lone RGV athlete to medal during Day 2 of the UIL state track and field championships, which featured Class 2A and 5A athletes.

The La Villa junior just missed out on another medal during the Class 2A girls 3,200, finishing less than a second behind bronze medalist Yarida De Leon out of Chilton.

La Villa’s Kaycel Salazar celebrates after crossing the finish line to win the silver in the 1600 meter run during the UIL Track and Field State Championships at Mike A. Myers Stadium on Friday, May 3, 2024, in Austin. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Salazar enters next season with three state medals under her belt in two state meet appearances. Still, she remains motivated to reach the top once again and capture gold in both events during her final run.

“When I crossed in second, I was speechless,” Salazar said. “I didn’t know if I could do it this year after all the setbacks. Cross country I couldn’t run and that hurt me. Just coming back here and doing this in my favorite race, it feels so good.”



Lasara senior thrower Xiomara Rodriguez. (Andrew Cordero | Special to RGVSports)

XIOMARA RODRIGUEZ, SR., LASARA: It is hard to find another Valley athlete with a resumè as impressive as that of Rodriguez. The Lasara senior entered this season as a four-time state medalist, including a pair of golds in the Class 1A discus.

Just for good measure, Rodriguez added another pair of state medals during her final high school meet, completing the three-peat in the Class 1A discus and capturing her first career gold in the Class 1A shot put.

The Lions’ thrower was one of two Valley athletes to earn double gold during the UIL state meet, joining Leal.

Rodriguez began her final high school meet by capturing her third straight Class 1A discus title in the morning, recording a personal-best mark of 154-7 for the win.

She followed it by setting another PR in the Class 1A shot put, throwing 41-5.5 on her fifth attempt to move from silver to gold in the event.

Lasara senior Xiomara Rodriguez looks to her family in the stands and celebrates after winning her second gold medal during Day 3 of the UIL state track and field championships Saturday at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin. (Joel Martinez | The Monitor)

Rodriguez wraps up her career as a four-time state qualifier, winning six medals during that span, including three golds in the 1A discus and one in the 1A shot put.

“It is honestly an overwhelming feeling,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve worked so hard throughout these four years. My goal this season was to break the state record. I came close to it, but I gave it my best. Having this feeling though is awesome. Capping off my senior year is kind of sad, but at least I came out here and competed and got my third straight gold medal.”



Brownsville St. Joseph senior thrower Alondra Loya. (Andrew Cordero | Special to RGVSports)

ALONDRA LOYA, SR., BROWNSVILLE ST. JOSEPH: While most of the Valley’s athletes were competing at the UIL state meet in Austin, Loya was putting the final bow on her decorated career in Hewitt while competing in the TAPPS state meet.

The four-year letter winner ended her 2024 season just as she has since her sophomore season, capturing the TAPPS 5A discus title for a third straight year.

Loya won the event with a mark of 135-10, nearly 16 feet farther than the next closest competitor.

Brownsville St. Joseph senior Alondra Loya competes in the discus during the RGVCA Meet of Champions on March 23 at PSJA Stadium in Pharr. (Delcia Lopez | The Monitor)

The UIW signee has been among the Valley’s best throwers all season regardless of classification, showcasing her ability with a gold-medal performance during the RGVCA Meet of Champions.

She wraps up her career as a four-time state qualifier, three-time district champion, three-time regional champion and three-time state champion. Loya also leaves as the school record holder in the discus (145-0), breaking the record as a sophomore and surpassing it three times since.

“It means everything to me to complete the three-peat,” Loya said. “I’m just really grateful for everyone that has supported me the last three years. I would not have been able to do this by myself. I think it is special. Right now, I’m full of emotions and can’t really blurt it out, but it means everything to me.”


NICOLE RICHER, SO., BROWNSVILLE ST. JOSEPH: One year after earning bronze in the TAPPS 5A pole vault as a freshman, Richer reached the top, winning the gold in the event this season.

The Bloodhounds’ vaulter tied her personal best during the state meet, clearing 11 feet on her first attempt to win the gold. Woodlands Christian’s Reese Muzny also cleared the mark but did so in two attempts, giving Richer the advantage for the gold.

Brownsville St. Joseph sophomore Nicole Richer competes in the 5A girls pole vault during the TAPPS track and field state championships Friday at Midway High School in Hewitt. (Courtesy Photo | Bloodhound Media)

Richer, who won gold in the pole vault during six of her nine meets this year, enters next season as one of the Valley’s best vaulters and a favorite to repeat as the TAPPS 5A champion.

“It makes me feel really good that I’m an underclassmen and I could go up against these older girls and still put up a fight,” Richer said. “We do have D1 commit in my division so it is a little tough, but somehow we pulled through and we won. We almost got a school record too, just two inches short.”


Brownsville St. Joseph sophomore thrower Olivia Wood. (Andrew Cordero | Special to RGVSports)

OLIVIA WOOD, SO., BROWNSVILLE ST. JOSEPH: For the past three years, the TAPPS 5A discus crown has belonged to Loya.

While it will change hands next year with Loya graduating this spring, it might not change schools, with Wood a top contender to take the throne next season.

The sophomore thrower finished as the silver medalist in the event this year behind Loya with a mark of 119-11, giving the Bloodhounds the top two spots on the podium in the discus at the state meet.

The two-time state medalist isn’t far from Loya’s sophomore season marks, with Wood recording a personal best of 121-4 this season. Loya’s top mark as a sophomore was 128-8.

The shoes left by Loya are big ones to fill, but Wood seems primed to step into them for the next two years.

“Today was a very emotional day because it was my last day throwing with my favorite thrower of all time,” Wood said. “Waking up this morning and go through the last steps of doing everything together, I think it was really sad but I’m happy to see where she is going.”

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