BROWNSVILLE — Observing the jumping events unfold at a track meet presents a nice illustration of a dialectical process; the participants watch their competition and then climb up the learning curve with each try, gauging their performance by not only the height of the bar but also the opponents’ performance. They keep an eye on their toes, and on their foes.
At the Meet of Champs Saturday, Edinburg senior Angelic Cantu couldn’t help but check out the high jump while she prepared to compete in the pole vault. Two reasons. One, the events were held side by side at palmy, scorching Sams Stadium. Two, McAllen Memorial freshman Jake Garza was making a run at a record, rising to a mammoth leap of 6-foot-10 before failing at 7-0.5
Cantu, who would register a personal best for the year at 10-0, is a student of her event, and she was impressed by the exploits of Garza.
“That is really high,” she began. “And he seems to be keeping his technique intact with every jump.”
For jumpers, this sort of consistency is the most important factor in having a good meet.
“It’s part psychological,” continued Cantu, who finished in the top tier of jumpers with the district meet a couple of weeks down the road. “As the bar gets higher, there’s the tendency to rush it, to try too hard, and that leads to you doing things you know you shouldn’t, technique-wise.”
The EHS veteran started slowly this year, failing to successfully clear in her first competition. But she’s gradually improved each weekend, and now faces a clear hurdle to scale for the district outing.
“I have yet to switch to the longer pole, it just hasn’t happened,” she admitted, at one point placing the two poles side by side to show the difference in length. “I guess I am a little nervous about it, but it’s what I am going to have to do to improve my jump.”
Cantu explained the physical intricacies of the transition, noting that after years of using the shorter pole, she’s just about tapped out.
“It depends both on where you hold it and how long it is,” she said. “If you don’t upgrade, you end up having to use too much push; I’m holding the shorter pole at the top, with the longer one I can go back to a grip short of the top.”
Truly, the jumpers have much technique work to do, and any deviation from the norm can eliminate them.
No one knows how vital the right approach can be more than North’s Adrian Flores. The junior high-jumper hung with the big dogs throughout the meet, finishing behind Garza and Sharyland’s Sean Peterson, but clearing a career-high 6-4. He might have done better at 6-6 had it not been for a blowout.
“See my shoes?” he laughed, opening his bag to display a ruined pair that ripped on his last round of tries, at 6-6. They were trashed at the instep. “They started to go yesterday and just ripped right now. But coach says that since I PR’d, I will get a new pair for district.”
The athletes refine their technique starting in preseason workouts and keep adding things into the meet season; in each outing, they take silent tips from the competition.
“I never really thought I could stay with some of these guys, ever,” Flores smiled. “But today I felt like I was flying out there! I guess I underestimated what I was capable of, but jumping with the leaders today, I think I was able to take a great week of practice and just get better. I was pumped and surprised when I cleared 6-4.”
MEET OF CHAMPS RESULTS
High jump: 4. Alma Chavez, North 5-0
Long jump: Shay Hernandez, Econ 15-5.5
Pole Vault: 4. Angelica Cantu, EHS 10-0
3,200: 3. Hilda Galloso, EHS 11:36.24
800: 6. Robin Galloso, EHS 2:26.71
100 hurdles: 4. Julissa Ramirez, North 16.93
100: 2. Veronica Tabb, EHS 12.54; 8. Hernandez, Econ 13.36
800 relay: 4. North 1:50.17; 6. EHS 1:50.88
300 hurdles: 8. Ramirez, North 50.60
200: 4. Tabb, EHS 27.07
1,600: H. Galloso, EHS 5:30.91
1,600 relay: 6. EHS 4:13.72
High jump: 3. Adrian Flores, North 6-4
Pole vault: 2. Gavino Galvan, Econ 14-0
3,200: 2. Luis Serrano, North 9:36.12
400 relay: 4. North 43.74
800: 3. Adrian Coronado, North 1:57.84
100: 5. Marco Adriana, North 11.22
800 relay: 4. North 1:30.64; 7. Econ 1:31.70
1,600: 2. Serrano, North 4:27.50
1,600 relay: 6. Econ 3:32.97