Sophomore Antonio Delacruz is in the midst of his second year with the Mean Green track and field team. He is held in high regard by his coaches as one of the fastest sprinters, breaking various records after walking on his freshman year. Delacruz leads by example on his team, sharing the work ethic learned back home in Dallas, Texas.
“I’ve always been around hard-working people,” Delacruz said. “I surround myself with people who have the same mentality. [They are] who I associate with on that team. I would say I am very glad that we get along.”
Delacruz has become one of the men’s sprinters’ more frequent personal record breakers. His personal favorite and “greatest accomplishment” was breaking the school’s record for the 4×100-meter relay in 39.37 seconds. His personal bests include the 60-meter in 6.77 seconds, the indoor 200 in 21.24 seconds, and the 100 in 10.47 seconds.
“Even though he’s only a sophomore, he has a maturity of somebody that I would like to lead that sprint group,” said David Burnett, the assistant coach specializing in sprints and horizontal jumps. “He’s not going to be the super vocal leader but he does in his own way do that. He leads by example. He initially did not want that leadership role because he didn’t think that he was good enough … but I told him, ‘You’re doing all the things that a leader should be doing. You’re making good grades, you’re showing up on time, you’re putting in hard work.’ He’s grown into it.”
Delacruz attended The Colony High School in Dallas, Texas, and dabbled in sports throughout his time in both middle and high school. He had a close group of friends throughout his childhood when he played football and soccer as a wide receiver and a striker, respectively.
“My dad did football and track during high school,” Delacruz said. “[Sports] came early to me because my first sport was soccer, at 3 years old. It stuck to me and I just became a sporty person. My dad [was my role model] because of what he has done to serve.”
With a father who had served in the military for 30 years, Delacruz was able to go to school under the Hazlewood Act, and earned a scholarship for track and field. His family shows their support by attending many of Delacruz’s competitions.
“I remember last year at Texas Relays, they were all there, grandma, everybody was there,” Burnett said. “They’re great people, they support [Delacruz], they love him. It’s cool to see him coming from the colony to North Texas being able to stay close to home.”
When Delacruz first came to college, he had been used to sprinting even before he decided to walk on the track and field team. He didn’t know exactly what sport he was going to join as a freshman, but then he realized track was the only sport he would feel confident about training for every day. When he got into contact with the coaches, they were impressed.
“We were trying to see what his form looked like, how competitive he was, how badly did he really want the opportunity … and he did really well,” Burnett said. “For it being August, he ran a time that I would expect from somebody maybe two or three months later in the year. It showed that he put in the work over the summer to do that well.”
After Delacruz first joined his sprinting group, his teammates were a large part of building his confidence to become both a prominent leader and a component that flourished under the pressure of competition. The men’s sprinters group have a close bond that Delacruz believes resembles brotherhood.
“My first impression of Antonio was that [he was a] savage … in a way to where it meant I can go to war with this guy any day or time of the week,” sophomore Davonye Jones, who participates in the 60-, 100- and 200-meter races, said. “I gravitated towards that because I’m a fierce competitor.”
Delacruz is currently studying sports medicine and minoring in economics. He does not yet know what the future will bring him.
“Now that I have one calendar year of training and competition, my confidence and talent have risen,” Delacruz said. I’m only a sophomore and we’re only just getting started. If another path opens up besides track, of course, I would take it. But, also I’m coming here to get an education, to get a degree. I’ll always have a secondary route.”
Featured Image: Sophomore sprinter Antonio Delacruz runs through drills during practice on Feb. 19, 2020. Image by Zachary Thomas