Beyond the game: Tina Valenzuela

By: 

Sports Reporter

According to junior track runner Tina Valenzuela, her ultimate goal at Texas State is to become an All-American track star.

Valenzuela said she began with track in 7th grade because she “wanted to be like her sister” who also ran track. She went to San Benito High School, where she was crowned district champion in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles and the long and triple jumps—all multiple years in a row.

“My biggest struggle has been the transition from moving from high school to college with track,” Valenzuela said. “You go from being a stud in high school, and then in college you get put on your butt, basically. It’s a lot different.”

For outdoor meets in the 2012 season, Valenzuela finished in fifth place in the heptathlon at the Southland Conference Championships. She took fourth place in the heptathlon at the Texas State Invitational and threw a season-high shot put distance of 10.32 meters at the SLC Championships.

Even though she said outdoor track and field is more her “passion,” in 2012 Valenzuela finished fourth in the indoor pentathlon at the Southland Conference. She achieved a personal-best in the high jump at the SLC indoors with 1.59 meters and had a career-best 8.85 in the 60-meter hurdles at the Houston Indoor, where she claimed first place.

Valenzuela earned All-Academic honors from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association last August along with 10 other members of the team. To earn the title, each athlete must have a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher and have met one of two standards. For the indoor season, an athlete must have finished the regular season ranked in the national top 96 in an individual event or ranked in the national top 48 in a relay event. For the outdoor season, the athlete must have participated in any round of the NCAA Division I Championships.

According to jumps/combined events coach Keith Herston, Valenzuela has grown immensely as a competitor.  He said she is a “role model to younger members of the team,” as she brings “an intensity” and a strong drive for competition.

“Tina brings a lot of leadership and work ethic to the team,” Herston said. “She brings a strong work ethic every single day, and she’s passionate about what she does every single day. She’s a strong leader for the team.”

Herston believes Valenzuela, who claimed first place in an indoor pentathlon meet last season, competes well because she is the “total package.”

“You get very high intensity (from training for meets),” Valenzuela said. “Our bodies are ready, but our coach trains us mentally. That’s a really big thing, especially when you’re young and you’ve got to compete against all these great people. You have got to be mentally strong.”

Valenzuela said one of her ultimate goals since first coming to Texas State her freshman year has been to finish in the top 16.