Numbers mattered for Matthew Jackson this season.

After a long jump of 23 feet, 2 inches to place first at regionals, Jackson would be just the second male athlete from Victoria East to advance to the state meet.

He would ultimately place sixth, but his finishes over the course of the year garnered him attention from multiple schools, including Sam Houston State University.

“In track, numbers matter, so I put up some decent numbers last year but nothing too much,” he said about the college’s interest in him. “After I jumped that 23 (feet) at regionals, I started to get out there a lot.”

On Thursday morning, he signed his national letter of intent to compete for Sam Houston State as a decathlete in the Victoria East gym.

“It’s been a dream. It’s been a goal since I was little, and finally it’s coming to real life,” he said. “Anything can happen, you just got to set your mind to it.”

Jackson also played football and basketball for the Titans, but track and field was the sport he excelled in the most.

“He came in as a freshman and showed tremendous promise and showed that he had a hard work ethic,” said East track and field coach Tyler Eblen. “That continued to pay off every year he got better, and I knew the sky was the limit for him from Day 1.”

Also continuing their athletic career on Thursday was East’s Nick Alfaro, who committed to Coffeyville Community College where he will play on the soccer team as a goalkeeper.

“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid, just trying to go out there and trying to prove that I can be something in the world, and the soccer world too,” Alfaro said.

Despite being two states away from his family in Kansas, Alfaro is excited for the opportunity to play on the next level.

“What primarily drew my attention to this school was that I knew I could grow in Kansas,” he said. “I know it’s a far drive, and it’s a far distance from home, but I knew that I was going to have the best opportunities there for my future.”

Jeremiah Sosa is a sports reporter at the Victoria Advocate. He graduated from Arizona State University in 2022 with a bachelor's degree in Sports Journalism.