• July 15, 2020

SCHOLAR ATHLETE PRESENTED BY ODESSA COLLEGE: Sanchez-Juarez kept focus on school first - Odessa American: Sports

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SCHOLAR ATHLETE PRESENTED BY ODESSA COLLEGE: Sanchez-Juarez kept focus on school first

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Posted: Saturday, May 30, 2020 6:37 pm

Jezreel Sanchez-Juarez would rather let his actions speak louder than his words.

That’s the approach that the Odessa High graduate took in his studies as well as his time in football, track and field and powerlifting.

He was able to find plenty of success in all of those avenues, twice qualifying for the state powerlifting meet as well as being recognized as Academic All-State for football.

Sanchez-Juarez said it was simply about making sure his priorities were in order.

“I just wanted to focus on school first before any sports or anything that I was involved in,” he said.

Sanchez-Juarez put that focus to good use by finishing in the top 10 percent of his graduating class and is heading to Texas A&M in the fall to study mechanical engineering. He’s following a similar path of his older brother, Nathan, who also is studying engineering in College Station.

Jezreel said seeing what his brother was able to achieve is something that motivated him to do the same.

“He did a lot of the same things I did and was also in IB and had a job,” Sanchez-Juarez said. “He had to manage a lot but he was always the first person to try something and would help me out in any situation.”

Sanchez-Juarez was determined to carve out his own path in whatever he pursued and that is something that stood out for head football coach Danny Servance.

Sanchez-Juarez was not a starter at the beginning of the Bronchos football season.

In fact, he said that he did give some thought to not playing football at all his senior year. He decided to go on through with his final season with a little bit of encouragement from assistant coach Ebbie Lisenbe.

“I had already been in the sport for the last three years so why stop now,” Sanchez-Juarez said. “I wanted to work for that spot and that’s what really drove me to keep going.”

Servance said that Sanchez-Juarez showed a lot of determination to get to that spot on the team.

“He’s a kid that will do whatever you ask him to do,” Servance said. “He didn’t start off as one of those regular rotation guys but when you have a kid that works tirelessly, he’s someone you can talk to other kids about not starting and later end up contributing.”

Aside from football, Sanchez-Juarez competed in the discus and shot put events in track and field but found his forte in powerlifting.

He qualified for the regional meets three different times and powerlifting coach Dean Garza said that he let what he did in competition speak for itself.

“Jezreel is a very quiet guy,” said Garza, who is also the Bronchos’ offensive coordinator. “You wouldn’t notice him in the room other than through his work ethic. He was easy to pick up that way.”

A seminal moment came during the Region I meet in March, 2019, in Plainview. Sanchez-Juarez was on the verge of not advancing in the meet and had one last attempt on the bench press in order to qualify.

Garza said that he could clearly see that Sanchez-Juarez was frustrated and gave him some extra words of encouragement.

“I told him that he had to get it out of your system and focus,” he said. “I told him that you’ve worked hard all year and that he had to channel that energy back to the task at hand.”

Sanchez-Juarez did just that en route to qualifying for the state meet for a second time. He was preparing for a third try until everything was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was kind of heartbreaking, honestly, that I wasn’t able to finish the year the way that I wanted to,” he said.

Even though it wasn’t the ending that he wanted to end his time in high school, his coaches are confident that his work ethic and effort can carry him to greater success like his brother.

“I see him being a boss one day telling people what to do because he’s just that type of kid,” Servance said. “I think it’s a credit to his parents because his brother was the same way.

“I just think it’s ingrained in both of them no matter what they’re doing.”

Odessa, TX

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