WESLACO — Seniors Emma Arndt, Amity Ebarb and Destinee Longoria began key contributors for the Weslaco High track and field program as soon as they stepped foot on campus.
The trio combined for 37 district, area and regional titles between their four years competing in Panthers’ uniforms becoming one of the most successful sets of track and field teammates across the Rio Grande Valley.
Arndt, Ebarb and Longoria celebrated another group triumph Monday when the three long-time Panthers teammates signed to continue their running careers collegiately at West Point, Texas and Texas A&M-Kingsville, respectively, during successive ceremonies at Weslaco High.
“It’s very exciting,” Arndt said. “I’m just so proud of all of them. … I’ve just had a great time with them and I’m so proud of them. We’ve been through a lot together and it’s just so great to come full circle and end up here signing together.
“It feels so amazing,” Ebarb said. “Me, Emma and Des have grown up with each other and competed with each other since seventh grade, so it feels amazing to share this moment with them because they’re so deserving of it, too.”
All three members of the Panthers’ senior track trio said they were motivated to reach the next level after seeing a pair of former Weslaco High teammates — Elanor Arndt and Lisa Sanchez — sign to compete at UTRGV collegiately in 2019.
“Seeing my sister sign really meant a lot to me and really made me want to work harder,” Arndt said. “I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to go that distance, but to see that I was able to and seeing Lisa sign as well was just really important to me. It made me really work and push myself. I’m really glad that I’m here right now.”
“Now they’re going to see me like I see Lisa and Elanor,” Longoria said. “I want to be like them. It’s going to be weird but cool.”
Longoria heads to A&M-Kingsville as one of the Rio Grande Valley’s elite distance runners after medaling in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs during district and area meets as a senior.
After a shortened track season during her junior year, she grew more determined to maximize each of her limited opportunities in an explosive senior campaign that featured top-five regional meet finishes in the 1,600 and 3,200.
“It felt really good to get to come back out and compete,” Longoria said. “We didn’t know if we were going to get shut down or not, so I raced every race like it was my last.”
Arndt, meanwhile, follows in her sister’s footsteps by signing with West Point after a career at Weslaco High defined by academic and athletic achievement.
She was nearly unstoppable for Weslaco in the long jump and triple jump and a key contributor in the Panthers’ area championship-winning 4×200 and 4×400 meter relay teams.
Arndt took second place in the triple jump and won the long jump at the District 31-6A meet as a senior. She also helped the 4×200 and 4×400 relay teams capture a combined 12 first-place finishes while finishing fourth in her graduating class academically.
“I’m just overwhelmed with pride, happiness and excitement because I have an amazing future ahead of me and I’m just really excited that all my hard work is finally paying off,” Arndt said. “I’m pretty proud of myself and I’m just glad that I was able to have that opportunity to even go to West Point, but to run too is a really great opportunity and I’m just excited to get up there.”
Ebarb is set to join the Texas Longhorns after one of the most decorated high school running careers in Rio Grande Valley history.
She advanced to the Class 6A State Championships in both cross country and track and field after her promising junior season was wiped out, setting the Valley’s all-time record in the 400-meter dash and breaking the Region IV-6A meet record in the 800-meter run as a senior.
Ebarb ends her high school career with 22 district, area and regional meet championships along with several of the RGV’s track and field records and six state championship appearances between cross country and track field.
In the final race of her high school career, Ebarb took fourth in the 800 at the 6A state championship meet in Austin to mark her top finish in a state-title race throughout her four years of racing for the Panthers.
“It was an emotional moment, but at the same time I just felt so lucky to represent my team a little bit longer and go out with a fight representing Weslaco,” she said. “It meant everything to me because representing the Valley is something I take seriously because there are always little kids watching. You want to be such a good role model to them and show them that it is possible to get to those levels.”
Ebarb is set to join a number of former RGV high school track and field stars on the Longhorns. She’ll be teammates with Edinburg North’s Beth Ramos, Edinburg IDEA Quest’s Valery Tobias, PSJA Memorial’s Cruz Gomez, McAllen Memorial’s Evan and Trevor Williams as distance runners on the Texas track & field team.
“Being able to speak to the athletes over there, they were so welcoming and the girls were so sweet. Knowing that there are other Valley people up there on the team makes me feel comfortable and really excited,” Ebarb said.
“I just feel so lucky for the opportunity to even represent Weslaco because they’ve done so much for me. My coaches have done everything in their power to get me there so I just feel lucky.”