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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Different paths yield quality results for seniors

    Arizona senior Bobby McCoy stretches before a run at Drachman Stadium, Tuesday. McCoy came to the UA as a football and track star, but after walking away from the football squad, he is one the top sprinters in the country.
    Arizona senior Bobby McCoy stretches before a run at Drachman Stadium, Tuesday. McCoy came to the UA as a football and track star, but after walking away from the football squad, he is one the top sprinters in the country.

    When high school athletes receive NCAA Division I scholarships, most are accustomed to dominating their competition and expect their college careers to follow suit. But what they don’t realize is that college competition can take them through ups and downs before they ever return to dominance, with some athletes never panning out at the college level.

    Arizona track and field seniors Bobby McCoy (sprinter) and Luis Rivera (long jump) each have taken many detours prior to becoming productive members of Wildcats’ team.

    McCoy, a native of Houston, started his career as a two-sport athlete and shared his time between football and track. In his freshman year in 2005, McCoy had a stellar year in which he set a freshman record in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.34 seconds. As he continued to produce on the track, he struggled to see significant time on the football field. After doing so well in track despite devoting most of his time to football, McCoy decided to do away with his first love.

    “”I played football and didn’t really play but I made nationals in track after only a few weeks of training,”” McCoy said.

    The 2008 season, McCoy’s first since leaving the football team, turned out to be his breakout season with the track team.

    “”Last year was a trying-and-learning year in terms of being out here full time and he ran very well,”” said UA head coach Fred Harvey. “”This year is year two and his ability level is through the ceiling, it’s just a matter of him having all the confidence to really push himself.””

    During the time that McCoy continued to pursue his football dreams, Harvey was all for it, even though it took away from his time on the track.

    “”Honestly, I’ve always wanted him to be just a track and field athlete, but he has a passion for football,”” Harvey said. “”When you’re young and athletic and you’re able to do these things, you have to exhaust your dreams.””

    McCoy will head to his home state to compete in the 400m event for the NCAA Indoor National Championships in College Station, Texas, on Friday, his last competition of his college career.

    “”I ran at home (Texas) once, my freshman year, but to run my last meet at home is like a dream way to go out,”” McCoy said.

    Rivera, like his senior teammate, took a slight detour in his road to becoming a part of the UA track and field team. Rivera eyed Arizona while in high school in Agua Prieta, Mexico, but was unable to attend due to eligibility issues that forced him to attend Central Arizona Community College for his first two years. All international students are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) before they can attend a university in the United States. According to Rivera, the minimum score that has to be obtained on the TOEFL in order to qualify is 550 and he received a 547.

    “”When I was coming out of high school I talked to coach Harvey, but unfortunately my English level wasn’t that high,”” said Rivera. “”I had cousins who attended the UA and I really liked the campus … Arizona was always my first choice.””

    Coming from Mexico, Rivera is grateful to be able to have the opportunity to compete and receive an education in the United States.

    “”In the United States they have first class facilities and the coaches have more knowledge about track,”” he said. “”This opportunity is like a once in a lifetime opportunity and I want to be able to open doors for other kids who want to come from Mexico to compete in sports. We live in a lower level than here (in the U.S.) and when someone comes to you with an offer that will change your life, it makes you grateful of the opportunity.””

    After his time at the community college, Rivera had several schools offer him scholarships, including TCU, Texas A&M, Nebraska and Illinois. Though he had numerous offers, he still had his eyes set on Arizona.

    Although Rivera is a senior, he will have one more opportunity to compete in the indoor season next year but this upcoming outdoor season will be his last. Rivera is looking forward to the upcoming outdoor season as he looks to improve from last year.

    “”I was used to my season being four months, but when I started competing Division I it was a six-to-seven month season with indoor and outdoor,”” Rivera said. “”I think last year I was tired toward the end, and me and the coaches have talked about it and have adjusted the workouts to improve this year.””

    The 2008 season was his first year as a Wildcat and he began his career by breaking an indoor stadium record in his first meet at Blue and Orange Classic in Boise, Idaho with a jump of 7.82m in the long jump. Then in outdoor competitions, he finished ninth in the NCAA Championships. He finished the season earning All-Conference honors in both the long jump and triple jump.

    “”We always knew that he was a big time jumper coming out of junior college,”” Harvey said. “”We’re hoping and praying he gets into the national championships because I know he’s ready to jump and if he gets in he can do some big things.””

    Rivera, ranked No. 17 in the nation, is currently on the bubble as he awaits the final results that will determine whether he will compete in the National Championships. He may still have an opportunity depending on whether athletes in the top 16 in the long jump opt to compete in the triple jump instead.

    “”My workout plan is the same whether I go to nationals or not,”” Rivera said. “”Whatever is going to happen is going to happen but it would be nice to be able to go.””

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