State Champion Q&A with Preslee Quisenberry and Guido Zapata

November 27, 2000 to December 10, 2000. Thirteen days separate the births of Preslee Paige Quisenberry and Andrew Quentin “Guido” Zapata.
May 3, 2019 to May 11, 2019. Eight days separate a UIL State Championship from the same two individuals.
Both born in San Antonio; both stood on our state’s biggest stage in Austin. Both punctuated outstanding careers at Devine High School with the ultimate gold medal proudly dangling from around their necks.
Preslee captured 4A UIL Editorial Writing while Guido dominated the 4A 110m Hurdles.
You are a state champion. No one can ever erase that. How does it feel?
PQ: Being a State Champion is pretty great! It was always a goal of mine, but I never thought that it would be in UIL. To say that you are one of the best in the entire state of Texas is a really big deal.
GZ: I am extremely honored to be the first Warhorse to be a State Champion in track. It is just amazing that all the hard work and dedication that Coach Khera Vay, Coach Lon Cozby, and I have put in over the last 6 years has finally paid off.
Go back in time to when you first started competing. How have your goals changed from then until now?
PQ: When I first started sophomore year, I really just wanted to win district and make it to regionals. By my senior year, I was no longer content with just making it to regionals, so I worked hard to prepare in order to place at regionals and make it to state.
GZ: I have always wanted to be the best. I like being the athlete that everyone stops to watch. The goal at the beginning of my freshman year was to be a district champ in an event. I ended up being champion in both 110m and 300m hurdles. That year we watched Dillion Ricord race at the state track meet and that is when I realized my goals were too small. From then on, I knew the ultimate goal was to be on that podium in Austin before my career ended.
Pitch Devine High School to anyone who may not understand what great things happen there on a daily basis.
PQ: I am so grateful to have gone to school here because the support here is like no other. The faculty, staff, and community consistently know how you are doing, and they are always very encouraging of every student.
GZ: In Devine, we take things for granted. We are used to being the best and winning everything; from all sports to UIL to FCCLA and FFA. That’s just what we do.
How has it been to work with so many different coaches and teachers over the course of your high school career?
PQ: Mrs. Petty has taught me everything that I know. I had no idea what editorial writing was, or that it was even a UIL event before high school. She taught me how to write and without her, there is no way I would have won state.
GZ: Every teacher/coach is different. You just have to learn how to work with them. Fortunately, for track, I have had the same two coaches for the last 6 years.
Other than your state championship, what is the next most proud moment of your high school career and what makes it so special?
PQ: My next proudest moment is getting District MVP in basketball for two years in a row. My MVP’s are so special to me because it meant that in the last 5 years my sister Baylee and I together won four of them.
GZ: My next proudest moment of my high school career was being accepted to my dream college. It has been a lifelong dream that I graduate from Texas A&M University. Getting accepted was the first step towards that goal.
What would you tell your freshman self if you had the opportunity to go back to that part of your life and do things over?
PQ: I would tell my freshman self to listen to Mrs. Petty and be on the journalism team. I joined sophomore year, and I really wish I had started a year earlier.
GZ: I would definitely tell my freshman self just to not be lazy. You get nothing out of sitting home watching TV and playing video games all day. You will never get this time back so go outside and play basketball or go work out in the weight room.
What would you tell incoming freshman who have big dreams but have not set goals to achieve those dreams?
PQ: Work hard, no matter what it is. You never want to leave any “what ifs” at the end of the day.
GZ: No dream is too big if you work hard enough for it. Set mini goals in between to keep you on track.
Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time? Why?
PQ: Perfect and late! I am a perfectionist, so being just “good” is settling.
GZ: Haha. Considering I am turning in this paper late, I am going to have to say perfect and late is the better way. My dad always taught me why do something if you are not going to give it your all.

Preslee Quisenberry and Guido Zapata at 8 months.

In five minutes, could you explain something that is complicated to most but you know well?
PQ: I could try…. However, I probably will not be able to explain it well.
GZ: The art of hurdling. Most people do not know this, but the faster you get back on the ground after going over a hurdle, the better. The longer you are in the air, the longer you are waiting to run. Also, the term “3 Stepping” is actual four steps. You do not count the first step that lands over the hurdle.
What is your definition of hard work?
PQ: Hard work to me means sacrificing something in order to be good. I believe in working hard while nobody is watching and that in order to be good you are going to have to make sacrifices.
GZ: Hard work is pushing yourself to higher and higher levels, past the natural talent you already have.
What is something you would be happy doing every single day for the rest of your career?
PQ: Hmmm…. Again, I have no idea what I want to do!
GZ: I could lift every single day for the rest of my career and be happy. It is the only thing that clears my mind.
What is the biggest decision you have had to make in the past four years? Why was it so big?
PQ: My college major has been my biggest decision, and it is something I am still considering. I know that this decision will effect me the rest of my life, so I want to choose a major that will suit my interest now and later. All through high school, I have thought about it, and here I am, 3 months away from college, and I still do not know for sure.
GZ: Not continuing my hurdling career. Having to choose between a better education versus continue hurdling at a small college.
What pushed you through long practices and training sessions? Why not “just give in” and be okay?
PQ: Every single day after Regional, I studied twice a day during school and after school so I could know the material.
GZ: Coach Vay always told me I had a chance at greatness. I just had to trust her and her intense workouts.
If for any reason, you had not made it to state, how would you have felt about dedicating four years to your event only to come up empty handed?
PQ: I was told just to “smell the roses” at my trip to State UIL, but I am very competitive so I was going to Austin to win. UIL was not always my biggest priority, but I would have been really disappointed in myself if I had not made it out of regionals because I am so competitive.
GZ: I probably would have run track at a small college to try to prove a point to myself. It definitely would have been hard to end my career not making it to state.
College choice vs Career choice. If you had the opportunity to skip college and begin your career immediately after high school, what would your career be and why would or why would you not skip college?
PQ: My dream is to be a sports reporter like Holly Rowe, but I am still not 100% sure if that is what I want to do. I would definitely go to college first that way I could find a career path that I love.
GZ: During my four years of high school, my “job” was sports and good grades. I have bare minimal experience in the work force so I know I could not skip college.
Family support is important to student success. How did the support from your family help you achieve your high school goals?
PQ: My parents are the most selfless people I know. Every Sunday my Dad would take me to the gym and rebound for me without complaining. At every single tennis meet, my Mom would come and provide whatever the team needed. They supported me in everything that I have done, and without them, I would not have had as much success.
GZ: It is always awesome finishing your race and looking to see your family still celebrating in the stands 45-60 seconds after I finished. It just shows how much they cared and wanted me to succeed.
If you were me interviewing you, what question would you ask and what would your answer be?
PQ: How many times do you say ‘literally’ a day? LOL
GZ: The question I am asked the most is, “Where are you running next year?” Unfortunately, I have not received a D1 offer that would be best for me academically. Although the plan right now is to try to walk-on for the Texas A&M track team.
Preslee is the daughter of Chad and Kalli Quisenberry. She has one sister, Baylee.
Guido is the son of Andrew and Dawn Zapata. He has one older sister, Jordan, and one younger brother, Aiden.
By Jerel Beaty
Staff Writer