Cards’ Garcia battles best at state

MGN Online

AUSTIN — Harlingen High sprinter Jose Garcia spent the season running his way into the Rio Grande Valley and Region IV-6A record books.

As a reward, Garcia lined up next to Houston Strake Jesuit’s Matthew Boling, the national record holder in the 100-meter dash at the Class 6A state meet.

“Before the race, I was feeling great. I really wanted to run,” Garcia said. “Now that I was here racing, I knew I was going to race against (Boling). It was an honor knowing I was running against him because that was my wish after regionals.”

Garcia got out of the blocks fast, but his body did not cooperate as tightness in his left hamstring 50 meters into the race hindered his momentum and ultimately led to a ninth-place finish in 10.75 seconds Saturday night at the University of Texas’ Mike A. Meyers Stadium.

“I feel the race was all right,” he said. “Getting into the blocks, I felt a little bloom behind my hamstring, but I felt I was going to ignore it because I really wanted to run this race next to (Boling). My leg just didn’t want to towards the middle 50 yards.”

The time was a far cry from his RGV record 10.30 and his state qualifying time and Region-IV meet record 10.43.

Though disappointing, the 100-meter dash was touted as one of the must-see races of the night after Boling made national headlines two weeks ago when he ran a 9.98 at the Region III-6A meet to set the national high school record.

It was enough for Garcia to relish and use as motivation.

“It was an honor, and I really wanted to be in the state meet,” the sophomore said. “Hopefully in my two remaining years, it feels, for me, that I’m the next top dog. Hopefully, those years go well.”

In the Class 6A boys shot put, Harlingen South’s Andrew Ott placed seventh with a throw of 56 feet, 1/2 inches, short of his qualifying distance of 60 feet even.

Rain forced the meet to come to a halt minutes before the originally scheduled noon start, delaying the shot put for more than an hour.

“I was just very off,” Ott said. “Combined with the delays, it just didn’t happen today.”

In Class 4A, Rio Hondo’s Jazaline Ayala finished her state debut with an eighth-place finish in the girls 800 with a time of 2:27.21.

The Rio Hondo junior qualified with a time of 2:22.76.

In the Class 2A girls 800, La Villa’s Robbi Espericueta looked primed for the medal stand heading into the final 200 meters, but the pack behind her gained ground down on the final straightaway.

Espericueta finished fifth with a time of 2:21.52.

In the Class 2A girls 400, Santa Maria’s Julissa Garcia got off to a strong start in the first 200 meters but could not keep up the momentum down the stretch and finished with a 1:01.31.

The time was an improvement on her qualifying time, which was a 1:01.83.