LA MARQUE

Maybe there will be a few less tears this time around.

In her debut at the UIL State Track and Field Championships a year ago, the size of the track at UT-Austin’s Mike A. Myers Stadium and the massive crowd was a little too overwhelming for La Marque’s Jackeria Woodkins. She admits to breaking down in tears on a couple of occasions.

Despite that, the then-sophomore Woodkins took home a gold medal in the girls 400-meter run, and now as a junior, she will have her sights set on repeating as a state champion in the 400-meter run, as well as adding a medal in another event in the 200-meter run.

“I almost thought she wasn’t going to make it,” La Marque head girls track and field coach Amber Rozier said. “She’s over here crying, shaking.”

“I cried two times,” Woodkins added. “The track was really intimidating.”

At the Class 4A regional meet in Huntsville, Woodkins said she had some nerves from the pressure of getting back to state, but quickly shook those off to win the 400-meter run with a time of 56 seconds and finish second in the 200-meter run at 24.8 seconds to punch her ticket to Austin to compete in both events.

“It was a lot easier, but there was a little more pressure,” Woodkins said. “I was nervous.”

Woodkins also has achieved the grand task of making it back to Austin despite moving up a level in competition this season from Class 3A to Class 4A, and she’ll look to continue to prove herself in the deeper waters at this year’s state meet.

“This season, compared to last season, I feel like I’ve gotten a little bit stronger than I was last year,” Woodkins said.

Woodkins never ran track competitively until her freshman year of high school, but she took to the sport naturally, and has excelled due to her unyielding willingness to accept coaching, Rozier said.

“This year, she’s a lot more focused and more motivated,” Rozier said. “Her work ethic is the same. She comes out to practice, she works hard, she doesn’t give me any back-talk. Even when I push her to the limit, she just fights through it.”

The different lengths of the races means different approaches to the 400-meter and 200-meter events. In the 400-meter, which Woodkins feels is her strongest event, it’s all about a strong start in the first 60 meters, settling in for a bit and then powering through the final half of the race, whereas in the 200-meter, it’s just about getting after it and attacking the curves.

“I’m excited to see if she can get back-to-back titles this year,” Rozier said. “She definitely can, but with us moving from 3A to 4A, there’s a lot more competition for her. She can definitely rise to the occasion and blow it out of the water.”

Woodkins will be competing in her two events on Saturday, May 11 at the UIL State Track and Field Championships at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin.

“This time I might cry a little bit,” Woodkins said. “But, now that I’ve ran on the track, I’ll be less nervous and shaky.”

James LaCombe: 409-683-5242, james.lacombe@galvnews.com or on Twitter @JamesAtGalvNews

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