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La Vernia’s Stephen Elizondo signs with Western Texas College

La Vernia’s Stephen Elizondo signs with Western Texas College
NANCY PAVLICH/Reprints at La Vernia High School graduate Stephen Elizondo signs his letter of intent May 31 to attend school and run track for Western Texas College in Snyder. Elizondo is joined by (from left) Superintendent Tom Harvey; Coach Richard Hinojosa; Coach Danny Gonzalez; his father, Raul; his mother, Sonia; and Principal Cheryl Barron.

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Wilson County News
June 8, 2011
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LA VERNIA -- For the last few years, Stephen Elizondo has been a big part of the La Vernia High School cross-country and track teams’ success. His speed and endurance are matched by very few, and his leadership helped guide the Bear cross-country team to the state meet. Elizondo graduated last Friday, but his career is far from over. A few days earlier, on May 31, he signed a letter of intent to attend Western Texas College in Snyder where he will run for the Westerners.

“Stephen is as dedicated and hardworking an individual as I’ve ever had the pleasure to coach,” said Coach Richard Hinojosa. “He’s had a great high school career, and his best running is still ahead of him.”

Hinojosa isn’t alone in his thinking, and that’s why the coaches from Western Texas College made it clear to Elizondo they wanted him there. While he did consider other schools, such as Texas A&M-Kingsville and Cameron University in Oklahoma, Elizondo felt Western Texas College was the place for him.

“I thought it was a better fit for me,” he said. “The coach was straightforward with me and the programs are very similar to what we have in La Vernia.”

Once he relocates to the campus in Snyder, Elizondo will begin collegiate competition during the cross-country and spring track seasons. He will major in kinesiology, and hopes to one day work as a coach himself.

Elizondo is looking forward to competing at the college level. He knows it will be more challenging, but he is excited about the opportunity. He is also excited about living in the college atmosphere.

But there is a flipside to every coin, and Elizondo said his graduation and move to Snyder is bittersweet. He knows it means leaving behind his teammates and the great relationship he has had with Hinojosa.

Elizondo gave a great deal of praise and credit to Hinojosa, and said, “He always had my back.” He also gave credit to his parents, and thanked his father for always pushing him to be his best.

Elizondo’s father, Raul, expressed pride in his son’s accomplishments, but was also quick to credit Hinojosa for his efforts.

“Credit needs to go to Coach Hinojosa,” Raul said. “He has been the foundation at La Vernia. He is more than just a coach. He is a mentor and a leader, and Stephen gravitated to that.

“His dream is to become a coach, and that is a direct influence from Coach Hinojosa,” he added. “Coach Hino has a drive that is unparalleled by a lot of other coaches. Stephen saw that and it made him work harder.”

Elizondo was a big contributor to the Bears’ 2007 and 2008 state cross-country appearances and second-place finishes. He was the team captain in 2009 and 2010, and won a bronze medal at the state meet his senior year. Elizondo also excelled during the spring track season and was a regional qualifier during both his junior and senior seasons.

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