TEXAS CITY — Asa Garcia’s pre-event routine includes a moment of preparation with her headsets swaying to her fluid motion, and while Lady Stingarees track coach Denise Callis would love to know what Garcia is listening to, she’s not going to break what doesn’t need to be fixed.
“I won’t ask what’s on,” Callis said. “Whatever she’s listening to is obviously working for her.”
Regardless of the music genre, Garcia’s outdoor track season is a loud, attention-grabbing session that has her and the Texas City girls track team on course to set a record or two of their own as the District 24-4A meet begins today at Goose Creek Memorial High School in Baytown.
Garcia’s senior season has been one of the most impressive of any female high schooler in the nation. A year after finishing fourth in the Class 4A girls triple jump, she now owns the top mark in the country, having achieved a personal best of 42 feet, 3.75 inches in the category during the prestigious Texas Relays last month in Austin.
“I always wanted to win at the Texas Relays,” said Garcia. “It’s been a goal of mine since I was a freshman.
“My first two jumps were OK, but when I made my third jump, something just clicked. I’m not sure what was going on, but when I landed and they called out 12.88 meters, I originally thought they were calling it for the boys’ triple jump. But when I realized they were calling it for me, it turned out to be the greatest feeling in the world.”
Austin was her latest conquest in a career that includes a first-place finish in the National Junior Olympics last summer. She comes into today’s district meet having won the triple jump four times this season.
To excel in track, Garcia had to make hard choices. She had played on the varsity girls basketball team but wanted to improve her skills, a choice that led her to let go of playing a sport that she had loved.
“I really didn’t want to give up hoops,” she said. “It was fun, but I also felt like I needed to do all I could to be successful in track. I knew in my heart that it would pay off.”
The decision not to play a final year of basketball was a difficult move for Garcia, yet she chose to bypass the hardwood in favor of focusing on the triple jump. Garcia worked with both Mainland Jaguars coaches Walter Walls, ex-track coach at Texas Southern University, and Vincent Hypolite, a former state long jump record holder at La Marque (1990).
“Asa is such an outstanding athlete and kid,” said Hypolite, who coaches at Pearland Dawson. “I haven’t had too many kids like that. She reminds me a lot of (current Cleveland Browns running back) Fozzy Whittaker when I coached him in that she represents her family, school and community in such an honorable manner.”
Garcia has also achieved a personal best in the high jump, reaching 4 feet, 10 inches at the Deer Park Kethan Relays in February. She is also part of a 400 relay team (along with Aerial Smith, Melicha Smith and Carmen White) that finished sixth in the Texas Relays with a season-best time of 47.40 seconds.
As dominant as Garcia has been on the track, she has been more successful as a student, as she is on pace to graduate with a perfect 4.0 GPA. She has also caught the attention of several elite college track programs, including Texas, LSU, Baylor, Texas A&M, California-Berkely and Kansas.
“I haven’t made a decision yet,” said Garcia, who plans to major in Biomedical Science. “It will be a school that I feel best fits me and how comfortable I am in that particular environment.”
College will be there for Garcia, but for now, the focus is on the road to next month’s state finals in Austin.
“I’m ready,” she said. “I’m very confident that I’ll bring my best. I want to be able to set another personal record or two and help Texas City win a state title. The hard work is paying off, but I’m going forward because the grind never stops.”
At a glance
WHAT: District 24-4A track meet
WHEN: Today and Thursday
WHERE: Goose Creek Memorial in Baytown
WHAT: District 24-5A track meet
WHEN: Today and Thursday
WHERE: Dickinson High School