In 17 years of coaching, McAllen High boys track coach Bob Bechold can’t recall feeling the way he does now going into a season.

“I’m probably as optimistic as I’ve ever been starting off a year,” Bechold told Texas Scorecard. “I’m really looking forward to a great season, given all the potential I know my guys to have.”

All Bechold’s knowledge comes first-hand after the Bulldogs capped a strong 2018 season with several state qualifiers.

Juniors Alex Rodriguez (400 meters) and Josiah Martinez (pole-vault) both return after winning district titles last season  

“They’ve made my job easier by making it easier to recruit kids for the program,” Bechold added. “When I took over as head coach in 2016, the program was sort of struggling, but as we’ve had more success it’s become easier and easier to get the kids out.”

The Bulldogs also return seniors Dylan Martinez (100, 200) and Raul Cantu (shotput), along with underclassmen Leo Lerma (110 high hurdles) and Hunter Herrera (long distance).

“We’ve got a lot of young guys back and we’re trying to expose them to as much as we can so as the season progresses no moment will seem too big for them,” Bechold said. “We’re traveling more, getting them out to see other things and teams outside of just the Rio Grande Valley.”

Bechold said his team having the work ethic that it does also helps make his job a lot easier.

“We know we need to improve on our relays and in the sprints like the 100,” he said. “Our straight-line speed hurt us last year, so we’ve spent a lot of time working on it. That indicative of how are guys are working to take the next step, plus we’ve got some other kids coming out that didn’t run last year that should be a really big help to us.”