AUSTIN — Marlena Garcia made history last Saturday when she competed at the UIL Track & Field State Championships at Mike A. Myers Sstadium on the grounds of the University of Texas.
Garcia became the first female to represent Zapata High School at the state level and, being only a junior, hopes to make a return trip next year.
“This was a new experience for her and for myself,” long distance track coach Mike Villarreal said. “We learned some things, and our goal is to come back next year.”
Garcia took the field with the state’s best milers and represented Zapata well in her first outing.
“Being the first time here was pretty tough,” Garcia said. “I was nervous and did not know what to expect.”
Her first venture to the state track meet was not the warm welcome Garcia hoped for and the heat played a factor in her performance.
The mile is usually run in the evening in most track meets, but at the state meet it was run at 2:45 p.m.
Garcia finished in eighthplace and ran an unusual 5:35, but hopes to utilize this ? experience for the ensuing year.
“This will be a learning experience,” Garcia said. “Next year, I know what to expect.”
Garcia had a hard time with the fast pace that was set by the leaders from the inception of the race, but she valiantly fought to keep up with the pack.
“In the first two laps, I knew that I was going too fast,” Garcia said. “My plan was to stick with the pack.”
Garcia did a great job the first lap and was in the middle of the pack and helped into fourth place.
But the combination of the heat and the fast pace proved to be too much for her to overcome.
“I knew that this was a fast pace, and these girls are fast,” Garcia said. “ I tried to stick with them, but it was hard.”
Garcia sees this race as a positive experience and hopes to be back here next year.
“I know I need to work on my speed and stay positive,” she said. “I am going to work very hard to try to get back here next year and do much better.”
Villarreal hopes that this experience will used to start to bring some more Zapata athletes to the state meet.
“This year we brought one athlete, now let’s see if we can bring some more next year and the years to follow,” Villarreal said.