It was a stellar day for the Odessa High athletic program as six Bronchos student-athletes across five different sports signed to officially continue their collegiate careers Wednesday during a ceremony at the OHS Fieldhouse.
Three of them, Odalis Lujan, Yareli Barrera and Sebastian Mora, are staying at home to compete for UTPB in cross country, soccer and tennis, respectively.
Brianna McClure is also staying in the Permian Basin after signing to continue her volleyball career at Midland College.
Nathalia Escontrias will continue her cross country career at Midwestern State while Amber Escontrias will play basketball at Concordia University in Austin.
Getting a chance to stay close to family was something the three UTPB signees to join with the Falcons.
“It is exciting to be able to be close to home and have my family go out and watch me play,” Barrera said. “It’s just a really good feeling to have.”
Mora added: “It’s here at home and it’s where I grew up. It’s just an amazing feeling to represent Odessa this way.”
Lujan and Nathalia Escontrias were the only two seniors on the Odessa High cross country team this season and they’re both excited to continue their careers within the same conference.
Lujan said that she’s looking forward to being close to home and also appreciated the fact that both she and Escontrias could both celebrate their accomplishments.
“At first we started competing against each other in middle school,” Lujan said. “But when we came here together, we grew up and we became friends and you could probably say sisters.
“We were there to support each other and it’s something that we can show the rest of the girls coming up in the program.
Escontrias shared a similar sentiment.
“It’s really great especially since I’ve known Odalis for the last four years,” Escontrias said. “It really has been a great experience to run with these ladies and I can’t wait to see what Midwestern State has to offer.”
Escontrias is also motivated to follow in her father’s footsteps, an Odessa High graduate who continued his running career at Texas State.
“It really means a lot to me,” she said. “It brings back a great memory and I know that he’d be very proud of me for getting this scholarship and continuing to run in college.”
All six were looking for that right fit and McClure found her in Midland.
She was a varsity player all four years for head coach Victoria Smith and credited her for helping her on her way to a collegiate volleyball career.
“She’s helped make me a stronger and mentally tougher person,” McClure said. “I’ve grown to be a better woman and just trying to keep myself disciplined.”
Amber Escontrias was an integral part in helping the Lady Bronchos reach the playoffs two of the last three seasons. She said she found a good fit at a smaller school and is looking forward to joining the program.
Escontrias also credited head coach Marcus Chapa for helping her see that getting a chance to play college basketball was within reach.
“I actually feel like he’s helped me more as a person than on the court,” she said. “He’s been there with me and has spent a lot of time with me to grow as a person and through a lot of other stuff.”
While everyone got to celebrate their individual accomplishments, they also recognized how important it was that all six of them signed together.
“It’s just amazing to see the other fellow Broncho athletes sign as well,” Barrera said. “It’s like opening another chapter into our stories.
“It just made me really happy to see a lot of us signing here today and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for them all.”
>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas