Three Odessa College runners have chased down another opportunity.
Monday at the OC Sports Center, Odessa College's Yanet Roman, Melina Levario and Don Garnsey each signed letters of intent to continue their cross country careers on the other side of town at UTPB.
"I'm super excited," Garnsey said — a sentiment echoed by all three signees.
Odessa College head cross country coach Cate Walsh said the trio represented the first signees the Wranglers and Lady Wranglers programs have sent on to a four-year university since she took the helm in 2013.
"It's so exciting," Walsh said. "It is really special."
Between Roman and Levario, who are both Odessa High graduates, and Garnsey, a Michigan native, each of the three signees have taken different, winding routes to Monday's signing ceremony — but for all three, Monday was about earning opportunities and running with them.
"I'm very grateful for all of it," Levario said.
Roman and Levario both ran for the Lady Bronchos, graduating from OHS in the springs of 2013 and 2014, respectively. Neither said they quite expected to continue running at the collegiate level at the time, but both gave it a chance when they were recruited by their hometown junior college.
Now, they're moving on to a four-year school — still in hometown Odessa.
"I didn't think I was going to keep running after high school, and then they came up to me saying that OC was having tryouts so I came and tried out," Nevario said. "I got to run again for two years. Then the UTPB coach came up, and it happened.
"It's exciting to be running for a four-year university."
Garnsey certainly didn't expect to be running at the next level when he graduated high school.
Right out of school in Marquette, Mich., he moved to West Texas to work in the oil field during the area's latest boom period.
"I came down here with the boom to work in the oil field," Garnsey said. "After about my first year, I decided that was enough and I went to school."
While at OC, Garnsey, who was a sprinter specializing in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes in high school, saw that the Wranglers track and cross country teams were searching for distance runners, and decided to give it a try.
"Distance is what we had available," Walsh said. "And he was like, 'Alright, I'm in.'"
He ended up making a collegiate career of it. Garnsey, now 23, is set to continue that career at the four-year level.
"It's awesome," Garnsey said. "I'm so excited to get to compete again."
Just as Monday's three signees were able to take advantage of opportunities to compete for OC, similar doors opened for the trio across town at UTPB.
The three will join the Falcons and new UTPB head cross country coach Alick Musukuma, who took over the Falcons' program in April of 2015 and, through this past cross country season, was looking for talent to help shape the new-look program under his watch.
"Our practices are in the mornings at UTPB, so (Musukuma) saw us running and he went up to (Walsh) and started talking to her and then that's when he started contacting us," Nevario said.
At UTPB, each of the Wranglers-turned-Falcons will look to continue to run with those opportunities they've been given.
"I love that they're staying local so that I can keep up with them," Walsh said. "We see UTPB out practicing a lot when we are. That'll be fun, to continue that relationship."
Article by Justin Lee OA