By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
Former Port Isabel High athlete Gabriyella Torres is home for the holidays. She is a student at University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) and is happy to be back in Port Isabel after a successful first semester.
“I love it,” Torres told the Press this week. “It’s a great school and it’s growing rapidly and turning into a really big university. So that’s really exciting.”
Torres is majoring in Sports Management and Tourism and did well in all of her first term courses. These included “Information Systems” (computers), “Business Calculus”, and “History of Jazz.”
Torres was also an athlete and at Port Isabel High she competed in volleyball as well as track and field. She was district champion in the high jump and long jump all four years of her high school career and qualified for the 2014 state meet in the high jump as a junior. Torres was also part of the 4×400-meter relay teams that won district gold her junior and senior years and was also the area meet champion in 2015. She placed 7th at the state meet in the high jump as a junior.
At UTSA Torres will be competing in the heptathlon event. The heptathlon includes these seven events: long jump, high jump, 200-meter dash, 100-meter hurdles, javelin, shot put and the 800-meter run.
Torres was in training for the 2016 track and field season all semester long. The season starts with a meet at Texas A&M University next month.
“The first couple of months we did a lot of conditioning, a lot of hard workouts,” Torres said Wednesday. “Now, as we move closer to the season, we’re doing more on technique in our individual events, working on the little things.”
Torres is one of three members of the UTSA team who will be competing in the heptathlon. “I have two other girls with me this year and we’re all new to it, all freshmen. So we’re all working together … teaching each other.”
Torres has zero experience with the javelin, which is not an official high school sport in Texas, and she has never thrown the shot put in competition. Friend and former PIHS teammate Daniella Murchison helped out Torres with the shot put over the summer. Murchison was the Class 4-Ahigh school state champion in the event in 2015 for the third straight year.
“In the summer Daniella was working with me, telling the (basics) of shot put. College heptathletes throw differently than true shot putters, because obviously we’re not big, strong shot putters!”
“She can definitely do it,” Murchison told the Press this week. “It’s not all about size and strength. It’s about technique and quickness in the ring.”
Javelin is also a new event for Torres and she has worked hard to learn how to compete in that event. “Mostly we’re working on technique, how to throw it and getting the feel of it. We don’t have to throw javelin until outdoor season.”
There is no indoor training facility at UTSA. “All of our training for indoor season is done outdoors, actually,” Torres said.
The 2016 season starts with an indoor meet at Texas A&M on Jan. 16 and Torres will compete against other heptathlon athletes from 10-12 other schools. The first outdoor meet is scheduled for March.
Torres talked about time management and good study habits and how important they are to success in college. “I have a daily planner. Study hall, a certain number of hours, is required. That helps – I might as well get some work done while I’m in there!”
Torres is not in the habit of doing late-night study sessions. “As a student/athlete we need our sleep. So staying up late studying is counter-productive,” she said.
The head women’s track and field coach at UTSA is Adam Hudson and, said Torres, he is well aware of how well team members may, or may not be, doing academically.
“If you don’t have the grades before a meet, he won’t take you,” Torres said Wednesday. “He just makes sure that you do what you’re here to do. We’re not all going to be athletes the rest of our lives.”
Torres will have Christmas dinner at home with her family and will leave right after dessert for a trip to Washington, D.C. She plans to be back in San Antonio well in time for the start of second semester classes.
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