Daniella Muñoz is representative of Texas Instruments’ finest.
We’re talking a sheer calculator.
Muñoz, a rising senior at Cinco Ranch High School, is all about precision. Everything she does is calculated. Of course, to be one of the best high jumpers in the state, that’s what it takes.
“Daniella is a very disciplined kid,” said her father and personal coach, Hugo. “I don’t have to tell her to go train or how to make decisions about her social life or school. Everything has to be balanced. She makes her own decisions because of what she wants. Daniella makes very good decisions, and my wife and I are very proud of her for that. Look where we’re at.”
Where she’s at is on the precipice of competing at the U20 Pan American Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica on July 20. She will represent Peru in the international track & field competition.
Muñoz qualified for the Pan Am Championships while competing in her first meet for Cinco Ranch this season. She cleared 1.72 meters, or 5 feet, 8 inches, at the Bubba Fife Relays at Paetow High School in March to reach the international standard necessary to qualify. She later jumped 1.74 meters, or 5-8 ½, at the Texas Relays in April, recording a personal best.
“When I first jumped 1.72, I wasn’t completely sure … I wasn’t 100 percent sure I qualified,” she said. “When I found out, I was pretty happy and relaxed to have peace of mind going into all the rest of my competitions that I had qualified, and that I could just enjoy my sport and enjoy my season.”
Muñoz finished second at the region championships and took fourth at her first state meet on a day where all the competitors were struggling with tough conditions.
“I didn’t jump as well as I hoped at state,” she said. “It was a really shaky state meet for everyone. I’m coming back my senior year hoping to put myself on a more positive note.”
For Muñoz, everything about her life is a positive. She’s an As and Bs student, one who is always following a personal script for success. She’s implemented the help of a Peruvian National Team nutritionist to stay disciplined with her diet. And her instincts have grounded her to the point of knowing when it’s time to turn in for bed, sacrificing fun with her friends.
“It’s a Friday night and you either go to that party down the street or you go to bed,” Muñoz said, without feeling the need to explain the decision she opts for.
Her dad was a two-time Olympic high jumper for Peru who now offers instruction through camps in Texas and Minnesota, where he has worked with a number of high-profile jumpers, one who recently came as far as Qatar to work on mechanics. Daniella started jumping around age 11, and within two or three months, she medaled at a national competition. She’s gradually improved each year, and her work ethic and commitment are what set her apart.
“Dani, she’s a highly-competitive kid,” Hugo said. “She likes to work hard to accomplish her goals. We do have a plan. There are workouts, there are days of rest. There’s a science behind it. It’s about understanding where she was with her development. I have been really careful with Daniella. When we started lifting weights, we started with light weights. Sometimes, I talk to others to get an opinion. It’s always good to make a phone call to see, ‘What do you think?’ The goal is for her to start managing herself and make her own decisions growing up.”
This year alone, Muñoz has cleared 5-7 eight times – an indicator that she’s able to maintain a high standard in the air, if you will.
“Daniella has never been a kid that has high highs and low lows,” Hugo said. “She’s a very stable competitor at high heights. That tells me her development is solid. Knowing that her strength process has started, just waiting for nature to finish its job with her development … that tells me her roof is really high. Mechanically and technically, she looks better every year. I just let her keep improving without putting pressure on her.
“The formation is not only as an athlete. She’s learning valuable lessons that, to me, are much more important to her as a human being.”
Indeed, she’s flying high in her journey through life. Muñoz will soon visit Germany to train at the Olympic Training Center for two weeks in preparation for the Pan American Championships. She’s competed in Peru and Colombia as well. It’s experiences like those that her dad is referring to.
“High jump has brought a lot to my life,” Daniella said. “Just the social aspect of it, it has pretty much exposed me to a whole other world. Track has opened a lot of doors for me.”
When Muñoz was younger, her parents told her to try different sports to find her niche. Volleyball was one of her initial choices, but it didn’t take long for her to decide whether to pursue that game.
“I realized pretty quickly the team sport wasn’t for me,” she said. “I like controlling my own thing. I really like the individual competition aspect.
“When I won, I was like, ‘Wow, I really did this for me.’ The only person you have to share that with is yourself and your coach.”
And the feeling she gets while airborne, when everything follows the calculated plan is an outside hitter’s version of experiencing the euphoria of putting the kaboom down on a laser kill.
“I know when the jump is made, right when I’m leaving the ground, you feel a pop, you enjoy the sensation over the bar,” Daniella explained. “You just know. When things go your way, it just makes it feel like everything is worth it.”