SJA’s Zolezzi claims third straight state crown

Winning one state championship in anything is hard enough for a high school athlete, and doing it two years in a row is an even taller task.

Winning three straight? Now, that’s another level of difficulty, unless you’re St. Joseph senior discus thrower Pablo Zolezzi.

Zolezzi won his third straight TAPPS discus state title, winning the Class 5A event with a throw of 159 feet, 5 inches on Saturday at Waco Midway’s Panther Stadium.

The SJA senior breathed easy after getting the job done once again, despite being disappointed with his overall performance.

“It’s definitely relieving, earning the three-peat,” the senior thrower said. “I’ve been wanting it for a while now. I didn’t do as good as I wanted, but I got the win so I’m happy. I wanted to throw a 175 at least, but unfortunately I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to. I still came out on top and that’s what counts.”

Getting through the rest of the competition proved to be a hard enough task for Zolezzi, but he also had to deal with a hurt finger from the long season and having just four throws instead of six after weather forced the two-day meet to be stuffed into one.

SJA track coach Teddy Lopez said Zolezzi didn’t seem bothered by it all and delivered in the clutch.

“It’s definitely an achievement,” the SJA coach said. “I’ve seen athletes who have been doing it since they were freshmen, for some reason or another, just get nervous. I knew Pablo was going to be fine. He’s a cool customer. With the shortened time frame due to weather, he only got four throws and scratched on two of them. He was being aggressive, and that’s how we all want him to be and why he does what he does.”

In the girls discus, sophomore Ale Ortiz finished seventh with a personal record throw of 89-5.

Back on the track, the St. Joseph girls underclassmen had strong showings despite not making the medal stand.

In the 100-meter dash, freshman Lucia Gonzalez finished fourth in 12.87 seconds, and she helped anchor the 800-meter relay team to a fourth-place finish with a time of 1:49.67.

The relay team is comprised of freshmen Elise Esparza, Alejandra Gonzalez and sophomore Marcela Valenzuela.

“I was excited about Lucia’s performance in the 100,” Lopez said. “She was a second away from third place. It was a very good performance on her part, she was closing very quickly in the last 20 meters. The relay came in as the No. 4 seed and performed as expected. The handoffs were solid and they did what they needed to do, and they finished where we kind of expected. They did well.”

In the 1,600-meter run, Valeria Bazan finished eighth with a time of 6:03.35.