Jessica Ortiz Rivera: For any young athlete, just making it to the state tournament in their chosen sport is an accomplishment enough.

Winning the state championship certainly makes for an incredible feat.  But, taking home the state’s highest honor five times is nothing short of spectacular.

Young St. Augustine High School sprinter Jessica Ortiz stands on a plateau occupied by a select few.  The five-time state Track and Field champion brought honors home to both her Alma Mater and the City of Laredo , winning three 1600-meter run crowns, one 800-meter title and one 4z400 medley championship.  Call her Laredo’s Track and Field answer to Michael Phelps.  Like the swimming legend, Jessica set records of her own in the 800-meter race, seven to be exact.

In addition to setting records, including jumping 16 feet during her high school career, the young Lady Knight also finished eighth in the National championship.   In the year 2000, the Laredo Morning Times paid homage to the legendary sprinter by naming her one of the Gateway City’s top 100 Athletes of the Century.

The University of Texas at Austin took notice of the sprint star, signing Jessica to be a member of the Lady Longhorn Track and Field Team, defending national champions at the time. She competed in both cross-country and track.

After earning her Bachelor of Science Degree in Applied Learning and Development in December 2002, Jessica returned to Laredo and to her beloved St. Augustine High School where she took on the job of coach for the girls’ track team.  History almost repeated itself when she led her team to within one-tenth of a second from a state title. The discipline she learned on the field translated well into her chosen career, as Jessica, now married to Felipe Rivera and the proud mother of two sons, Phil and Jake, went on to earn her two Masters Degrees, one in Science in Curriculum from Texas A & M International University, and the other in Administration from Lamar University.  She is now assistant principle at United Day School. But, it all started with the race, a race that she still runs, only the track is different.

Excerpt from 2013 Inductees Program

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