Tivy Athletic director David Jones continued what has become his favorite signing-day tradition: Sharing a story about the signee.
He began senior Chloe Pena’s signing ceremony at Tivy High School on Thursday with a tale that captured her athletic gifts. Throughout the last several years, any time he drove on Holdsworth Dr. while the Tivy track team was practicing, he always noticed Pena dashing ahead of the pack of runners.
Pena shyly smiled during Jones’ brief story. In fact, she didn’t say too much when she signed her letter of intent to run track at the University of Incarnate Word. She doesn’t like to boast about her talent on the track, preferring to let her accomplishments in the sport speak for themselves.
And she will graduate as one of the most accomplished athletes in Tivy history. Pena never actually planned on running competitively. When she was in the seventh grade, former Hal Peterson coach Jan Anderson noticed her darting around the football field and then encouraged her to run cross country. The suggestion sparked a decorated track career. Pena holds the Tivy record in the 800 meter race, was the first Tivy athlete in track coach Kevin Pope’s coaching career to advance to the state meet in both cross country and track and always made sure to mentor the younger athletes in Tivy’s program, challenging them everyday during practice.
“What people may not realize is that she is one of the most prolific distance runners that we have had at Tivy,” Pope said. “She’s quite an athlete and an awesome kid on top of it. … When you lose a kid like that, it’s a big hit to our program. The good thing is that we got some young kids who got to compete with her as teammates during the last few years. Between her and all the seniors that we are losing, the good news is that those younger ones have learned what the expectations for work ethic are for our program.
“Hopefully, the legacy that she’s leaving isn’t just the records and all that other stuff, but it’s about teaching younger kids how to go about their day-to-day business and compete.”
She first received contact from UIW in August, when she received a call from the school’s track coach, Derek Riedel.
“I heard a couple of things about you,” Riedel told Pena. “I wanted to see if you wanted to come up here and visit for the weekend.”
She took a visit in October, and instantly connected with the members on the Cardinals’ track team. Still, she wanted some time to think before she committed to a major life decision.
Before track season began, Pena had made her decision: She wanted to be a Cardinal.
She followed that decision with a strong senior year, earning a silver medal in the 800 meter race at both the district and area meets. She’s hoping to experience more success at the college level.
“I am really excited,” said Pena, flashing a smile. “I just don’t show a whole lot of emotions, so I am not really able to show it well. But I am really excited about this opportunity."