Lizbeth Fierro’s journey to a silver medal in the Class 3A shot put is an unlikely one.
Perhaps one that would not have happened without the persistence of her coaches who never gave up on her.
The Tornillo senior surprised everyone – and we mean everyone – at the 2021 UIL State Track and Field Championship at Mike Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas on Thursday.
Fierro, a wild card selection to state, threw the shot put 39 feet 8.75 inches to earn her silver medal.
And the kicker?
She started throwing the shot put a month ago – yes, one month ago.
“I was always playing volleyball, basketball and softball,” she said, giggling. “The coaches had been asking me to go out for track since I was a freshman but I couldn’t. I was a softball player and the softball and track seasons are at the same time so I couldn’t do both.”
At the end of the softball season, Tornillo coaches Jesse Garcia and Frank Sapien asked her again.
“The coaches gave me the metal ball to see what I could do and I tossed it about 35 feet,” she said, again giggling. “They knew I could be good at it as long as I tried it.”
Fierro entered the state finals – only her fourth meet ever – as a sixth seed and eventually hit her silver mark in the fourth round. The winner was Jillian Howell, a junior at Bushland, with a toss of 40-3.25.
“At practice I’ve been throwing 41 (feet) so I know I could have done better,” she said with a sly laugh. “I was talking to the girls in the pit and they told me they’ve been training since 7th grade. When they asked when I started, they were all surprised when I told them just a month ago.”
Garcia was confident Fierro could do it.
“She’s a great athlete,” he said. “Everyone at school wanted to have a shot at working with her so track was always the last thing on her mind. Coach Sapien managed to talk to her and get her to give it a shot. Coach Sapien comes from a great program at Eastwood so he knows a thing or two about the shot put. He has passion for it and he did a great job with the time he had with her.”
Fierro acknowledges that there was more than a little luck in her earning a silver medal.
“It was little bit of beginner’s luck and a lot of work,” she said. “I wasn’t supposed to be here. At regionals, I had an allergic reaction to something and I wasn’t at my best and finished third. My coach told I might or might not make it as a wild card but I was happy either way because at least I tried, I didn’t regret anything my senior year. On the bus ride back, the coaches told me I was wild card and I was headed to state.”
Fierro said she was happy with the outcome of her final high school competition.
“This is the best feeling ever,” she said. “I’ve been competing in sports most of my life. In other sports you have to work as a team but in this one, it’s all individual so you’re working for yourself which it makes it more difficult and satisfying at the same time.”