Carson pole vaulter wants to medal at state meet
Eric Garcia was disappointed with the way his junior season ended.
The Carson High pole vaulter suffered a hamstring injury late in the year, and he wasn’t at full strength when he vaulted 13-feet to finish eighth at the Northern 4A meet.
The injury lingered into the summer. It was start, stop, start and stop again. It got so frustrating that Garcia said he entertained thoughts about quitting. His teammate and fellow vaulter A.J. Winder talked him into returning.
“We’ve always been there for each other,” said Garcia as he relaxed after a workout in preparation for the NIAA 4A State Track & Field Championships which start today at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas. “That’s why I decided to stick it out. I decided to have a fun final season.”
And, he’s done exactly that.
Garcia vaulted 14-6 last weekend, tying his personal best and qualifying for this weekend’s state event. He passed at 14-9 last week, but missed three times at 15 feet. He has a legitimate chance to medal this weekend, though he will have to be at his best. Obviously Garcia would like to get a PR.
Nick Stearns from Pahrump Valley and Douglas’ Nick Maestretti are the state leaders at 15-6. Three other vaulters, including Garcia, have cleared 14-6.
“It’s been great,” Garcia said, talking about his season and qualifying for the prestigious state meet. “I made some changes with poles. I’m using a stiffer pole now. Lane (Maestretti of UCS Spirit) is going to bring stiffer poles for me to use at state. I’m excited about that.
“I was jumping good with a 14-170 in practice. I had too much adrenaline (last Saturday), and I would have run right through it (14-6). I went with a 14-175 which Lane let me borrow. When I went for 15 feet, I didn’t know where to put the standards. I kept landing on the bar. I barely came down on it the last time.”
According to vaulting coach Jim Reid, Garcia has cleared 15-6 in practice and that alone makes Reid believe that Garcia can place.
“He has a good chance,” Reid said. “He’s taken baby steps to get here. Last week he got the work he needed, and he’s right where he needs to be. He’s healthy which is half the battle. Everything is coming together.
“The key is getting off the ground. He’s one of the best in the state at moving up the pole. He has the ability to do it. He’s a senior with nothing to lose. He’s ready to jump big.”
However well Garcia vaults, he’ll have the rest of the Northern 4A vaulters behind him. The camaraderie between the vaulters is amazing. They cheer for each other, and they even lend advice.
“It’s a great atmosphere,” Garcia said. “If anybody needed a pole, I’d give it to them because you never know when you might need a pole. We try to help each other out.”
Garcia said everybody could have big days because at Del Sol, vaulters have the added benefit of a tailwind.
“There is always a tailwind,” Garcia said. “It should be a great day for the vaulters. Everybody should jump well.”
And, Garcia hopes he is one of those guys. It would certainly make his sister, Ruby, very happy. She is the one who got him started.
“My sister vaulted her junior and senior years at Carson,” Garcia said. “I saw her doing it and I decided I wanted to pole vault. I wanted to do something cool. She taught me how to hold the pole. That’s how I got started.”
So if Garcia medals, it will be a family win.
Garcia will be joined by the Senators’ 1600-meter relay team of Trey Jensen, Clint Page, Gabe Pongasi, Taylor Bradshaw, Andrew Cowan and Conner Fallon. Pongasi also qualified in the triple jump.
The girls’ squad will be represented by Josilyn Daggs (100 hurdles, 800 relay), Kaitlyn Holmes (800 relay), Elena Thurman (800 relay), Allison Cowan (800 relay) and Alex Drozdoff (3200).
Daggs, who recorded a PR at 15.69, is seeded eighth. Coach Robert Maw hopes that Daggs can rely on her competitive spirit to take over.