LA MARQUE — Featuring athletes from across Galveston County and beyond, the Mainland Jaguars Amateur Athletic Union track and field team had 40 of its members qualify for USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics, which begin Monday in Humble.
Among the group set to compete at the Junior Olympics is Texas City star Asa Garcia. As a junior last season, Garcia brought home 4A state championship gold in the long jump, the triple jump and as part of the 400-meter relay team. She will be competing in her signature jumping events next week.
Garcia will be looking for her second straight Junior Olympic gold medal in the triple jump and will seek her first Junior Olympic medal in the long jump.
“This year, I want to medal in long jump and triple jump,” she said. “I plan to be victorious.”
Garcia said the competitions and specialized practicing during the summer with the Jaguars help her stay sharp in preparation for what she hopes will be another successful senior year.
“It really helps because my coaches specialize in jumps, and I don’t really get that much jump training during the school year,” Garcia said. “And it keeps me aware of my competition from around the country.”
Ball High’s Drake Murphy, who also competed at the 4A state meet as a junior, noted that the summertime competition is very helpful because it allows for full focus on improving himself on the track.
“You’re more focused in the summer; it’s a harder edge,” Murphy said. “It’s nothing but track.”
Murphy will compete in his signature event, the 400 meters, at the Junior Olympics. After finishing ranked 12th in the nation last year, he said wants to win it all this time.
Murphy added that he would like to compete in some of the top indoor track meets during the next year, and said he hopes to cut his 400 time down to 46 seconds.
Success begins at a young age for members of the Jaguars, which is apparent in the case of Brycen Provost. Provost had long enough throws in the mini-javelin events to qualify for the Junior Olympics — except that, at age 6, he is too young to compete in the meet’s youngest 8-and-younger division.
The Junior Olympics will be a weeklong event at Turner Stadium concluding July 27.
The Jaguars, which has members from Provost’s age all the way up to high school seniors such as Garcia and Murphy, has been a mainstay on the mainland for 31 years.
“Every year, we just have great, outstanding athletes,” Jaguars team president and co-founder Cheryl Benefield said. “It’s all about the kids and the community, enriching them and getting them where they need to be.”
Benefield also praised the club’s new generation of coaches, all of whom competed on the team themselves in their youth and have now passed the proverbial baton to keep the program moving forward.
Qualifiers for the Junior Olympics from the Mainland Jaguars team are:
Asa Garcia17-18long jump, triple jump
Victoria Herpin13-14discus, shot put
Koi Johnson13-14long jump, triple jump
Crisstin Riley13-14long jump, triple jump
Arlette Concepcion11-12high jump
Chrystal Herpin11-12discus, shot put
Destiny Smith11-1280 hurdles
La Riah Shannon11-12high jump
Shelby Wagner11-12high jump
Sarah Allison9-10mini-javelin, high jump
Kirsten Bell9-10200 meters
Cailyn Riley9-10mini-javelin, high jump
Selest Scott9-101,500 meters, mini-javelin
Ko’Real Williams8U200 meters, 800 meters
Drake Murphy17-18400 meters
Kameron Hypolite15-16long jump, triple jump
Davion Thompson15-16high jump
Christopher Welch15-16high jump
Jacob Allison13-14discus, javelin
Kirk Collins11-1280 hurdles, long jump, high jump, outdoor pentathlon
Lexington Hatch11-1280 hurdles, high jump
Ira Marshall11-12high jump
Demarcus Nelson11-12200 meters
Donald Warnell11-12400 meters
Joshua Allison9-10high jump
KeSean Goynes9-10400 meters, 1,600 meters
Christopher Herpin9-10shot put
Terrance Howard9-10400 relay, 1,600 relay, high jump
Gabriel Tubbs9-10400 relay (alternate), 1,600 relay (alternate)
Korrye Williams9-10400 relay, 1,600 relay, 800-meter run, triathlon
Ky Woods9-10400 relay, 1,600 relay
Glenn Parker8Ushot put
Noah Rhodes8Ulong jump
Jermaine Smith8U400 metes, 800 meters