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First time at state leads to second place victory
by Matt Naber
May 27, 2013 | 1301 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Coy Slavic photo
Three Rivers High School's Haleigh Garcia leaps into the sandpit during the triple jump at state last weekend.
Coy Slavic photo Three Rivers High School's Haleigh Garcia leaps into the sandpit during the triple jump at state last weekend.
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High school junior Haleigh Garcia placed second in the triple jump at the UIL State Track Meet by clearing nearly 37 feet, approximately the length of a house, in just three leaps on May 10-11 in Austin.

But, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for this up-and-coming athlete who was competing at the state level for the first time.

“My first jump was terrible, a low 34, and it gradually got better,” Garcia said.

As she adjusted her approach, she was able to place second in preliminaries and her jumps grew to 36 feet, 8 inches; sealing Garcia’s position for second place at state.

“Competition was tough,” Lady Bulldog coach Doris Johanson said. “We just adjusted and went for the next one.”

The girl who placed first at state was the returning champion, who jumped 38 feet, 3 inches.

“I stayed loose because my coach was telling me to stay warm,” Garcia said. “I stretched a lot because I had hurt my leg on Thursday before we came. Then I ran faster down the runway and remembered to cycle my leg and get my knees up and fix the little things as we went.”

Shifting gears and making changes are second nature for Garcia as she spent the majority of the season balancing track with softball.

“It’s hard to go from track to softball and missing track for softball or vice versa,” Garcia said.

She credited being more consistent with her practices for how she was able to go farther this year. As state approached, Garcia’s daily practices consisted of about 30-40 practice jumps per week.

She also watched videos online for ways to improve her form and technique.

“She’s an athlete,” Johanson said. “She’s matured and had a taste of state because we were successful in volleyball and basketball and that had a big impact. She’s a multi-sport person and you learn to work around it.”

Johanson has been Garcia’s coach for all three years she has been in high school. She went to regionals in the triple jump as a freshman and as a sophomore.

“She helped me even if I had a bad attitude; if I made her mad, she would stay with me,” Garcia said.

Her personal best last year was a 36-foot, 6-inch jump at district as a sophomore. That year she didn’t make it to finals at regionals, but as a junior she came back swinging.

She returned her junior year to win the area and regional track meets with 34 feet, 11 inches at area and 35 feet, 10.75 inches at regionals; but her current personal best is 36 feet, 10 inches.

She also placed eighth in the long jump and the TRHS mile-relay team placed fifth at regionals.

“We had made regionals in volleyball, and that helped her confidence,” Johanson said. “She had been in basketball and then softball made playoffs and all of that together helped her confidence.”

Garcia plans on participating in a summer camp to focus on her triple jump and will participate next year as a senior.

“Then that time I am going to bring home the gold,” Garcia said.
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