Isidro Garcia has always approached athletics with the same mantra.
Set goals as high as possible. Never set limits.
Only a freshman at Angelo State, Garcia, a Crane graduate, became one of only two Rams freshman to reach the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field National Championships when he qualified in both the 400-meter run and 1,600-meter relay.
“That’s not a race that freshmen typically qualify in,” Angelo State track coach James Reid said. “I think it takes time to develop, to run at the level you need to be at to make the national championships.”
At Crane, Garcia won the Class 2A state title in the 400 as a junior, then gave up the race to try to help the team. With Garcia anchoring both the 800-meter relay and the 1,600-meter relay, the Golden Cranes had a shot at medals in both events.
But a false start at the Region I-2A Championships ended Crane’s chances in the mile relay.
When Garcia made the decision to attend Angelo State, he always knew he was headed back to his signature race, the quarter-mile.
Garcia knew he had a chance to contribute right away.
“I went into the year with high expectations,” Garcia said. “Running with the No. 5 guy in the nation was something that I knew would push me.”
Nobody could push Garcia in practice at Crane, or in competition for that matter.
Angelo State, on the other hand, has one of the nation’s best quarter-milers in senior James Howell, a star who is seeded third in the 400 with a 46.13 and fourth in the 200 at 20.90.
Like Garcia, Howell hates to lose.
And ever since Howell finished his football season in November, Garcia has tried to chase the senior down in practice.
“Right from the start, I saw his work ethic,” Howell said. “He didn’t back down. Even though he was a freshman, he still put it all out there on the track.”
At the Lone Star Conference Championships, Howell ran a 46.8. Garcia was only a couple of strides behind in 47.05. Running in a field that Reid said is one of the toughest at nationals, Garcia, who is seeded 13th, knows he has to lower his time significantly to join his teammate in the finals, an accomplishment that would make Garcia an All-American.
“The quarter this year is faster than it has been in many, many years,” Garcia said. “But I have a feeling that I’m going to qualify and get All-American status.”
Pairing Howell and Garcia together has also made the Rams contenders in the 1,600 relay. Right now, Angelo State is seeded fourth.
Howell thinks they could break the school record, which stands at 3:05.93.
“In every meet we’ve run, we’ve had a 30-meter lead,” Howell said. “We haven’t really been pushed.”
Finding competition should be no problem at nationals.
Luckily, Angelo State has already faced plenty in practice.
>> What: 2010 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships
>> When: May 27-29.
>> Where: Irwin Belk Outdoor Track Complex, Charlotte, N.C.
>> Angelo State qualifiers: Aisha Adams, Celethia Byrd, Kris Crockett, Andrea Nussey, Chrystal Ruiz, Sara Hooker, Makayla Myers, James Howell, Ryan Adkins, Wade Goode, Brian Holik, Terence Holland, Tyler Orlando, Jacob McDonald, Nick Smith, Isidro Garcia, Mark Slone.