Lady Blue Devils 9th best team in the state

PRESIDIO, AUSTIN – Here’s what four Presidio Lady Blue Devils track and field team members did at the state track meet in Austin on Friday: Daniela Soto Valenzuela won second place and the silver medal in the triple jump; she placed third and earned the bronze medal in the long jump; Soto and teammates Davinia Mireles, Nicole Felix, and Alejandra Valles placed fourth in the 4×400-meter relay; and Team Presidio placed 9th out of 54 Class 3A-size teams at the UIL-sanctioned event.

“It’s pretty unbelievable,” Soto told the Presidio International.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” said Coach Mayra Lujan.

“We are extremely proud of their performance at an elite level,” the coach said of her student athletes. “All their hard work and dedication paid off this past Friday. We are happy and excited to have them back next year and are looking forward on improving individual and team performances. When you see these young ladies, please congratulate them for all their accomplishments, and thank you all for your support.”

It’s not Soto’s first appearance at the state meet: she placed third and earned the bronze medal in the triple jump last year.

Soto said that she tried to convey that invaluable experience to her teammates in their first appearance at state about performing at the top of their game in front of thousands of people on the UT-Austin campus in the state capital.

“Don’t feel nervous,” she said she told her teammates, “The only people who know you are your parents, coaches, family and friends who have been coming to the meets all season.”

As for the other elite competitors who took the track and field with the Presidio student athletes and to not be intimidated by them, Coach Lujan said the best and brightest from Presidio have earned the right to compete with the best and brightest from throughout the state.

“We’ve got a lot of talent,” the coach said. “These ladies work really hard and have been amazing from the first track meet, working on personal bests and as a team. And none of the girls are seniors, the team stays the same.”

Coach Lujan said developing elite student athletes is a challenge she is up for and that some of the success is achieved off the track and field: recovery time, eating the right meals, and keeping their grades up.

And knowing when and how to beat Presidio’s heat,” Soto added.

“They’re really dedicated,” she said of head coach Mayra Lujan and her assistant and husband, Marco Lujan. “They took their time with us to perfect our running and handoffs.”

“Yes, we concentrated on handoffs, and put in a lot of time. It’s been a fun season,” said the coach who has helmed the team the past six years, and Presidio student athletes have earned a state berth in three of those years.

Here are the event results:

Daniela Soto Valenzuela

* 2nd place, triple jump, Silver Medalist, 37-10.50, the first Lady Devil to get a silver medal in school history;

* 3rd place, long jump, Bronze Medalist, 17-11.00, the first long jump medalist in school history;

4×400-meter relay

* 4th place with a time of 4:02.76 for Davinia Mireles, Nicole Felix, Daniela Valenzuela, and Alejandra Valles.

Presidio also qualified for state in the 4×200-meter relay, but committed a lane violation – a baton handoff occurred outside the prescribed distance – and the quartet of Jasmine Sotelo, Daniela Soto, Nicole Felix, and Davinia Mireles was disqualified. Soto, 17, grew up in Ojinaga, Chihuahua and has been attending Presidio schools since the third grade, the daughter of proud parents Rosa and Jose Soto.

“I believe I have a passion for the sport, because physically I’m not that strong. It’s the practice and effort I put into it,” she said, noting that she began running track in the eighth grade.

Throughout the years, her parents, teammates, coaches, and friends have all encouraged her, she said.

Asked what she was thinking as she stood on the podium as the silver medal was draped around her neck, Soto said she could have jumped farther and earned the gold, but added, “I’m proud to have represented Presidio.”

Her post-high school plans call for pursuing a nursing career on a track scholarship at the University of Texas at El Paso, a school known for its collegiate track success with a superb College of Nursing.

With silver and bronze medals in hand for the state triple jump already, Soto’s goals for next year are being the state triple jump and long jump champion in 2020.