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Maverick Excellence

CMU student-athletes embody the Maverick Spirit — excelling in whatever they put their minds to. Prior to the start of this semester, two student-athletes put this to the test. Jack Briggs from the Track & Field Team and Alma Mendoza from the Women’s Wrestling Team ventured outside of the United States to compete in their respective fields.

Briggs competed in the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru. He is no stranger to this type of competition as it was the fourth time he competed for Team USA. Briggs made the finals of the 100m dash, competing against other athletes who have proven themselves to be in the upper echelon of the sport. In this fierce competition, Briggs finished seventh.

“It's really nice,” Briggs said about finishing so well. “Placing seventh shows all the hard work I invested really paid off. I began training in September, which means that almost a full year of preparation was needed for an event that lasted only eleven seconds.”

Another difficulty included the focus required by Briggs to balance preparation with academic obligations — a challenge that is overcame by many CMU student-athletes.

“It's taxing from the mental capacity,” said Head Track & Field Coach Brad Gamble. “What we do on the track is not overly complex or difficult, but the competition does require mental toughness and dexterity. We're just proud of him for being there.”

coach and his student-athlete

Head Track & Field
Coach Brad Gamble and
student-athlete Jack Briggs.

Once at the games, Briggs stayed in the Athletic Village with other athletes from various teams. Even though the atmosphere was intense, Briggs was able to stay focused on the task at hand.

“It’s a high-pressure environment, everyone is excited and nervous. Lots of emotion. This was my fourth international competition, so I was a little more experienced than during the first couple. I had a better feel of what I was doing and what to expect.”  

More than 3,000 miles away in Guatemala another Maverick was showing the world what the Maverick Spirit means. This past summer, Mendoza competed in the Junior Pan American Games. Mendoza, who has been wrestling since seventh grade, spent the summer training for the Junior Pan American Games with her coaches at Colorado Mesa University and at the Olympic Training Center with the rest of Team USA women’s wrestling team. Her hard work and dedication paid off when she brought home a silver medal from the games dropping just one match to a wrestler from Brazil.

“It feels good but I definitely know going forward that I do have a lot to work on... but overall I was honored to be able to represent the women’s wrestling community.”

The hard work hasn’t stopped since coming back from the competition. Mendoza continues to balance her school work with wrestling with help from her coach Travis Mercado.

“Travis is great!” Mendoza said, “He is a very well-rounded coach. He's there for us on the wrestling mat and he’s there for us off the wrestling mat.”

Mercado is Colorado Mesa University’s first women’s wrestling coach and strives to help CMU athletes conquer the balancing act of schoolwork and sports.

“It’s about teaching them and providing a sort of guidebook.” Mercado said. “I communicate to them that there are steps you must take in order to be successful in academics, but also in life.”

Briggs and Mendoza are just two examples of the Maverick Spirit. Being a Maverick can be defined in different ways, but Mercado said it best: “being a maverick is going for that unique opportunity to do something out of the ordinary — to be a leader in this world.”


Written by Zoe Shanahan, student