Palmview High’s Felipe Valencia set a new gold standard at the UIL State Track and Field Meet in Austin last week. For the second year in a row, Valencia earned a gold medal in the state 5A shot put competition.
As the defending gold medal winner in the event, Valencia is now the only two-time track and field state champion in La Joya Independent School District history. Prior to his winning the gold last year, it had been 45 years since then La Joya High junior Noe Hernandez brought the gold home in the 880-yard dash.
“Winning back-to-back state championships and making history at La Joya means a lot me,” said Valencia. “It means even more because all my family was there to support me.”
While Valencia might have caught some of his competitors by surprise at last year’s state meet, he was the defending state champion this year so everybody was gunning for him. While that may have been too much pressure for some people to handle, Valencia took it all in stride.
“I’ve dealt with the pressure very well this year,” said Valencia. “I was just trying to be consistent and I was going for a new PR (personal record). While that did not happen, I’m still happy with my performance.”
Last year, Valencia’s gold medal winning throw measured 60 feet 5 ¼ inches. This year he bettered that mark by nearly 4 feet when his throw of 64 feet 4 ½ inches took the gold. In his sophomore year Valencia earned his first state medal when he finished in second place with a throw of 57 feet 2 ¾ inches.
After scratching his first throw, Valencia’s second throw was the winner. His third throw measured 64 feet 4 inches, his fourth and fifth throws both measured 61 feet 7 ½ inches, and he scratched his sixth and final throw.
“I did feel a little pressure when I saw the thrower from College Park throw a 62-footer, but I was in a groove so I didn’t let it bother me. I gave it all I had in my final throw and it might’ve been another 64-footer or possibly even a 65 but I scratched so it didn’t count,” explained Valencia.
Even before Valencia won his third state medal in as many years, he had already signed to attend school at and throw for the University of Houston Cougars.
“I am officially a Cougar,” said Valencia. “I’m hoping to be able to compete in the discus and the hammer in addition to the shot put but whether or not that will happen remains to be seen. If I can score points for the team then why not try doing everything? The coaches and I will have to decide if I should do all three or just stick to one or two.”
At 5 foot 7 inches tall the only thing that may keep Valencia from excelling at all three events at the U of H could be his height.
“I may not have the height for the discus and the hammer at the collegiate level,” added Valencia. “I’ve been using the spinning technique in the shot put since my freshman year and I have the explosion at the end for it but you have to be tall for those events.”