HUMBLE – Galveston County was well represented at the USATF National Junior Olympics with 13 athletes bringing home medals and All-American status.
Ten county track and field athletes earned medals in individual events, and a relay squad medaled twice at the Junior Olympics, which were held Monday through Sunday at Turner Stadium in Humble.
The majority of the local athletes earning medals — which are awarded to the top eight finishers in each event — hailed from the Mainland Jaguars AAU team, based out of La Marque and Pearland.
Among that group was the lone Galveston County athlete to bring home a gold medal — Texas City’s Asa Garcia.
The reigning state champion in girls long jump and triple jump for the Stingarees earned her second straight USATF National Championship in the triple jump on Friday, totaling 41 feet, 11.25 inches.
Garcia also medaled in the long jump with a fourth-place finish on Thursday, totaling 19 feet.
“It was awesome,” Garcia said. “I put in work, and I improved by 2 feet from last year in both of my horizontal jumps. I’m proud of myself, and I’m really thankful to have the coaches that I have. This couldn’t be done without them.”
The experience of competing with athletes from all across the country was also enjoyable on a personal level for the extroverted Texas City track star, who said she struck up many conversations and even took some “selfies” with some of her friendly competitors.
“I love talking to the different people at the competition,” Garcia said. “I just like asking questions like, ‘How long was your flight?’ ‘How long did it take you to get here?’ ‘Do you like the area?’ Things like that. You get to meet a lot of friends. I see them in the meet after a year, and we start talking like we never stopped talking.”
The Junior Olympics has track and field competitions in age divisions from 17-18 to 8-and-younger, with seasoned youth track veterans such as Garcia and newcomers like Friendswood’s Matthew Kovacevich, who brought home a medal with a seventh-place finish in the 3,000-meter run on Saturday in the 11-12 year old division.
“It felt really great to just stand on the podium and be up there with the best in the nation,” Kovacevich said.
Kovacevich said his time of 10 minutes, 16.09 seconds in the 3,000-meter run was a new personal best by 22 seconds, and, although he did not medal in his other two events, Kovecevich shaved seven seconds off his personal best time in the 1,500-meter run and was one second short of a personal best in the 800-meter run.
“I guess competing with the best of the best helps you,” Kovacevich said.
Galveston County Junior Olympic medalists:
Asa Garcia (Mainland Jaguars) — 1st place, girls 17-18 triple jump (41 feet, 11.25 inches); 4th place, girls 17-18 long jump (19 feet)
Lloyd Jones III (unattached, Hitchcock) — 3rd place, boys 8-under long jump (13 feet, 1.25 inches); 6th place, boys 8-under 100-meter dash (14.96 seconds)
Kirk Collins (Mainland Jaguars) — 5th place, 11-12 boys pentathlon
Lexington Hatch (Mainland Jaguars) — 5th place, 11-12 boys high jump (5 feet, 1 inch)
Sarah Allison (Mainland Jaguars) — 6th place, 9-10 girls mini-javelin (71 feet)
Chrystal Herpin (Mainland Jaguars) — 7th place, 11-12 girls discus throw (79 feet, 5 inches)
Koi Johnson (Mainland Jaguars) — 7th place, 13-14 girls long jump (16 feet, 11.25 inches)
Matthew Kovacevich (unattached, Friendswood) — 7th place, 11-12 boys 3,000-meter run (10 minutes, 16.09 seconds)
Jermaine Smith (Mainland Jaguars) — 7th place, 8-under 800-meter run (2 minutes, 44.66 seconds)
Korrye Williams (Mainland Jaguars) — 8th place, boys 9-10 triathlon
Mainland Jaguars 9-10 boys relay team (Kesean Goynes, Korrye Williams, Ky Woods, Terrance Howard) — 7th place, 1,600-meter relay (4 minutes, 35.39 seconds); eighth place, 400-meter relay (56.49 seconds)