Garcia shines during 2007
Heather Garcia has had a phenomenal year : again.
During the past 12 months, the Baldwin High School junior captured four Class 4A state titles and set three school records.
"Anytime you get all of the accomplishments she has done, it's pretty special," said Mike Spielman, BHS cross country coach. "Those athletes only come along once ever so often to a school or community. It's neat that everyone has gotten a chance to take part in her accomplishments with her."
Garcia's 2007 year was similar to her 2006 year, but slightly better. She won the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter 4A state championship races in track, before winning the cross country title in October.
To top off her year, Garcia led the BHS girls to the 4A team title in cross country. For her, the senior cross country season couldn't have ended any better.
"The highlight of my year was winning the cross country state titles," Garcia said. "That was the best way to end it. If I had to picture ending my high school career, it would have been that way. It was perfect."
Spielman agreed, saying winning both titles this fall was the best way to end her senior campaign.
"She went out not getting beat as an individual or as a team," Spielman said. "That's how everyone wants to end their season. It's special when you are the one team out of 64 that ends up at that point."
During her process of winning her individual championships, Garcia reset three school records that she previously set. In track, she set the 800-meter, 1,600 and 3,200 records. She ran a 2:17.03 800 run at the state meet to break the previous record of 2:19.98.
Her new 1,600 record is now 4:58.9, beating the previous time of 5:03.65. She set that record at the Redbud Relays in Wellsville.
The final school record came at the 2007 state track meet. The 3,200 race was moved to the first day of competition last spring and Garcia took advantage of the chance to run a fresh race. She crushed her old record of 11:02.69 by running 10:49.4.
"My two favorite races were the mile at Wellsville and the two mile at state," Garcia said. "At state, I strategized to win the race, but I just ran really fast doing it. I had never run it open and fresh before. At Wellsville, I listened to coach's advice and ran the race I wanted to run."
Garcia also placed second in the 800 and sixth in the 400-meter dash at the state meet.
Although Garcia's times were record-breaking this year, Spielman said she stepped up and became a strong leader as a senior.
"Her times came down, but she is also more of a leader now," Spielman said. "As you get older, you start to do those things. She helped the girls' cross country team win state. As a leader, you get the most out of your teammates and she was able to do that this year.
"She's a great person to be around, too," Spielman said. "It's fun when she goes out there and competes really hard, because it rubs off on the other kids. It gives everyone a chance to see if you work really hard, how good you can really be."
Garcia will now have one last chance to improve her track times as she hits the track this spring. She enters as the two-time defending state champion in the 1,600 and 3,200, but she will be looking to win her first 4A title in the 800.
One thing Garcia won't have to worry about this spring is choosing a college to run at next year.
"Now there is one less thing she has to worry about," Spielman said. "She can just go out and have a good a time. She can also try to do the things she did in cross country, like help the team do well and encourage her teammates."
She is also happy to have that decision out of her way. There will be a story in next week's Signal announcing where Garcia has chosen to attend.
"It's less stressful now and I don't have to impress anyone," Garcia said. "I don't have to prove anything now. It's my senior year, so I'm looking forward to it. We'll just see what happens."