REFUGIO – Izac Canchola’s path to becoming a top javelin thrower in Texas wasn’t always easy.

Transferring from Refugio to St. Joseph his sophomore season gave him a different outlook on life and in sports.

“It was a big sacrifice,” he said. “I wanted to go to St. Joseph for college prep, but I missed my friends. It was like I lived in two different worlds. I had a group of friends there, and then I had my family in Refugio.”

Canchola made the most of his opportunities at St. Joseph by joining the football team and track and field program. He advanced to the TAPPS Class 5A state meet as a sophomore and captured silver in discus and shot put.

Canchola also played football at Refugio as a slotback/outside linebacker and helped the Bobcats reach the Class 2A, Division I quarterfinals this past season.

“I decided I wanted to end the year right,” said Canchola, who returned to Refugio his senior year. “I wanted to come back home with the people I grew up with.”

Canchola has made 10 appearances in the USATF and AAU Junior Olympics Track & Field Championships and has won gold in javelin four times and a gold in both shot put and discus. He made his national mark by throwing the javelin 205 feet to break the Gulf Coast record for Texas.

His success caught the attention of several college coaches, but one coach at Stephen F. Austin University stood out more than the rest.

“Coach Frenchie (Hadrien Choukroun, assistant coach for jumps and multis) reached out to me in a personal way,” Canchola said. “It wasn’t like most coaches — he wanted to get to know me and not use me as an athlete. They took me in during my visit, and it was very welcoming.”

Canchola made his commitment to the Lumberjacks official when he signed a letter of intent to join the men’s track and field program Friday at the Refugio High School cafeteria.

“He’s a well-rounded track athlete,” said Refugio boys track and field coach Kent Hawthorne. “He can throw the shot put, the disc and run the hurdles. He can pole vault and throw the javelin.”

Canchola said his biggest inspiration is his grandmother.

“My grandma.. she meant the world to me,” he said. “It was tough not growing up older with her like my brothers did. Every track meet she couldn’t make, I came home to bring her the medals. Closer to when she died, I brought her some more medals to keep. I made sure to put two in her casket so they can stay with her forever.”

Canchola will represent Texas on the Track and Field Team by Down Under Sports on July 7 in Queensland, Australia. He will compete in a single-event and a team championship title in the javelin.

But his focus right now is to help the Bobcats bring home a state championship with the season right around the corner.

“I think about the fundamentals and everything my coaches have taught me,” Canchola said. “My main goal this year is to help build a strong team and ultimately win a championship.”

NOTES: Canchola will major in mechanical engineering at Stephen F. Austin.

Rey Castillo is the assistant sports editor for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached at rcastillo@vicad.com, 361-574-1240 or on Twitter @reycastillo361.

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