ST. CHARLES – People use the term running in circles to figuratively describe a tough situation with an elusive solution.
Running in circles is what Stephanie Garcia loves to do.
The St. Charles East junior started running track in middle school, and ever since then she has had a love affair with the sport. A former basketball player, Garcia left hoops behind when she got to high school, and she has no regrets.
“I felt I was better at [track],” said Garcia, the March Athlete of the Month sponsored by St. Charles Toyota. “I was really short for basketball, and track is more my passion.”
So far this spring, Garcia has competed in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes as well as the 4x200 relay, and she occasionally runs the 4x100 and the 4x400 relays. Sprints are her specialty, and the 100 dash is her favorite of the bunch.
“I just like that it’s such a short race,” she said. “It’s over and done with in a couple seconds. I tried jumps in middle school, but I’m not a jumper. I’ve always been a sprinter and it’s always been my favorite.”
Becoming a state-qualifying sprinter (she ran on the 4x100 relay that ran in the state prelims in 2015) is easier said than done. While the 100 dash does last a little more than 10 seconds, there is a lot of training done behind the scenes: speed drills, weightlifting and intensive coaching to reach peak performance.
“There’s a lot of weight room work, power lifting like clean-and-jerks just to build power and just be quicker off the line at the start of a race,” Garcia said. “It definitely helps having all the coaches pushing me, and I think all the work in the weight room and the drills really help you improve.”
Garcia recently set a personal record in the clean-and-jerk in the weight room, which has led to solid results on the track.
In three outdoor meets so far this spring, Garcia has not finished outside the top three in a race. She was second in the 400 and third in both the 100 and 200 in a triangular meet against Bartlett and West Aurora on April 17. She was second in the 100 and 200 dashes at the Naperville North invite April 13.
Garcia is hopeful the solid results continue to the postseason. After running at the state meet as a freshman in 2015, she just missed making it last spring. She beat the state qualifying standard in the 100 at the Upstate Eight Conference meet last year, but she came up just short when it came to running a qualifying time at the sectional meet. She ran a 12.70 in the 100 dash April 17, just .09 off the state standard.
“The environment at state is so beautiful, and after freshman year I just want to get back there,” Garcia said. “I was pretty close last year and I’m hopeful I can qualify in the 100 this year.”