Prep Girls Track and Field: Rancho Bernardo High’s Garcia ready to make her mark on track
By Michael Bower
Jessica Garcia grew up causing havoc on the base paths during softball games. But by the time she got to Rancho Bernardo High School she was ready to try something else.
“I played softball for seven years and I was always the fastest person,” said Garcia (pronounced “Gar-sha”). “Everyone was always telling me how fast I was so I thought about doing track.”
Her freshman year she found herself in the physical education class of longtime track and field coach Don Jones. It didn’t take him long to spot Garcia’s talent and get her out on the track.
“We were in P.E. class and a bunch of freshman boys were running down the track,” Jones recalled. “Then all of a sudden I see this person zoom by everybody and it turned out to be Jessica. It didn’t take a genius to figure out she had talent.”
Garcia, now a junior, has been working hard to improve that talent ever since. She had tried just about every event on the track as a freshman before settling in as a 100- and 300-meter hurdler. She also is a member of the 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams.
“She was a sprinter and I knew she was athletic and when you get somebody athletic you always want to try them at the hurdles,” Jones said.
Garcia’s niche quickly became the 300 hurdles. She qualified for the CIF San Diego Section finals as a freshman and a sophomore. This year, she is ranked among the top four in the county and is aiming to make the state meet.
“She is just an athlete,” Jones said. “She is just strong and built. She has some God-given ability and is very competitive. She can run with anybody.”
Garcia’s season-best in the 300 is 44.74-seconds, which ranks fourth in the section. Both Jones and Garcia believe that time will drop drastically before the season comes to an end. In fact, Garcia could catch 2000 Rancho Bernardo High graduate Catie Coin, who owns the school’s 300 hurdles record (43.82).
“I absolutely think Jessica will have that by the end of the year,” Jones said of the school record. “We haven’t even seen how fast she can go yet. She is just rounding into shape.”
Garcia runs the anchor for the 4×400-relay team, which is ranked fourth in the section. She runs in the leadoff position for the 4×100-relay team, which is ranked sixth in the section. She is just outside the top-10 in the county in the 100 hurdles, which she has been working hard to improve upon.
“I should be three-stepping for the whole race in the 100 and I don’t know why I am not,” Garcia said. “I have been practicing it since my freshman year so it has been frustrating. In my head, I know I can do it. But it just doesn’t happen.”
“Once she does the three-stepping then look out,” Jones said. “I think the 100 hurdles will be where she really excels.”
Garcia will start to put it into high gear, as the Palomar League finals and the section championships are on the horizon.
“My goal is to get to state and have fun with it,” she said. “I have been having a lot of fun so far.”
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