Sharyland High's Sidney Bravo celebrates as she prepares to sign with the UTSA Roadrunners to participate in women's cross country and track on Friday, May, 28, 2021, in Mission. (Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | [email protected])

MISSION — Sydney Bravo hit the ground running with her decorated high school athletic career immediately upon arrival at Sharyland High.

The Sharyland senior was awarded numerous accolades while leading the Rattlers as a four-year letterman in both cross-country and track and field and a two-year stint on the school’s varsity soccer squad.

After developing a reputation as one of the Valley’s most elite distance runners and endurance athletes, Bravo was rewarded with her biggest achievement Friday morning, when she signed to run cross-country and track with the UTSA Roadrunners during a ceremony at Sharyland High.

“I’m excited and really glad that all my hard work and dedication have paid off,” Bravo said. “There’s a lot of great athletes here in the Valley, especially runners, so to be up there just means everything to me. I think it shows that with hard work, you can accomplish anything.”

“They’re going to be gaining an elite runner. We wish we could hold her back just another year,” Sharyland High girls track and field head coach Melissa Dearth said. “She is just getting started and she’s been getting better every year since she started. I think UTSA is going to be very surprised with what she can do.”

As a freshman, she qualified for the University Interscholastic League’s Class 5A State Cross-Country Championships.

Bravo landed on the podium in the third race of her first high school season, taking third at the Rio Grande City Rattlers Invitational.

She continued to thrive with top-100 finishes in both the District 31-5A and Region IV-5A meets to advance to the state championships, where she posted a then-personal record to claim 138th.

“It was a good learning experience,” she said. “There were a lot of really talented girls up there with a lot of them coming from up north, so it’s more difficult but that just pushes you to work harder and run faster.”

Bravo used her experience at the State Cross-Country Championships as a freshman to fuel her rapid ascent in the sport to become one of the top competitors across the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas.

She shaved 61 seconds off her PR set at the state meet as a sophomore, earning All-Valley recognition from the RGV Cross-Country Coaches Association that season.

Bravo upped her performance again as a junior, returning to the State Cross-Country Championships before the remainder of her high school running career was thrown into question by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I had a little bit of doubt and I was scared that we weren’t going to have a season, but I had just had some belief in me that there would be a season and I kept training during the summer,” she said. “Since it was my senior year, I just had to work twice as hard to be where I wanted to be and hit the times I wanted to. … It worked in my favor and we ended up having a great season.”

Bravo’s dedication paid dividends as a senior.

She secured four top-10 finishes during a condensed cross-country season and claimed a top-50 at the Region IV-5A meet. Bravo then moved on to track season, where she shined in the 800 and 1,600-meter runs.

The Sharyland senior qualified for the Region IV-5A track meet in both events and earned top-10 finishes in 90.9% of her races in the 800 and 1,600.

Bravo ends her high school career as a four-time regional qualifier in cross-country, a back-to-back First Team All-Valley selection by the RGVCCCA and a First Team All-District honoree as a senior.

She now heads to San Antonio to join the Roadrunners, who finished third in the Conference-USA indoor and outdoor track seasons this past year, and continue the RGV’s long-standing tradition of collegiate distance runners at the Division I level.

“To represent the Valley is amazing,” Bravo said. “It’s not every day that you get the chance to compete at the DI level, but I was blessed with that opportunity.”

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Twitter: @ByAndyMcCulloch