22 September 2011
Track team recruits one of nation's elite race walkers.
Alejandro "Alex" Chavez (front, center), formally
chooses to attend MBU as part of the university's
first race walking team.
Photo by MBU
The Missouri Baptist University track team has landed one of the nation's top race walkers.
All-American Alejandro Chavez, from Pharr, Texas, is a 13-time All-American and winner of the 2011 USA Track and Field Junior Olympic Championships.
Chavez walked the second-fastest one-mile walk ever by a high school junior in the U.S., and the sixth-fastest 5K by a high school student.
Alejandro "Alex" Chavez rounds
the track at the 2009 Penn
Relays. He placed first in
the Junior Men's 10K.
Photo courtesy of Racewalk.com
Chavez said he wanted to pursue his walking career and began looking for universities. His high school coach sent Chavez’s times and accomplishments to MBU head coach Gordon Reiter, who immediately contacted Chavez and offered him a scholarship.
Chavez, who has been race walking since he was in fifth grade, says he became involved with race walking during his younger years because he was a bit heavier than his peers and not coordinated enough for other sports.
His gym teacher showed the class what race walking was and it immediately sparked his interest. Chavez was a natural and it helped him lose weight.
Chavez values his education greatly. “God willing, if I am able to become faster and qualify for the Olympics I will pursue that, but my education comes first,” Chavez said.
He has not declared a major but would like to be a math teacher or an engineer.
There are two main rules governing race walking. The first dictates that the athlete's back toe cannot leave the ground until the heel of the front foot has touched. If the racer violates this rule it is known as a loss of contact.
The second rule requires that the supporting leg must straighten from the point of contact with the ground and remain straightened until the body passes directly over it.
The track and field season begins Jan. 13, 2012, with an indoor meet at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.