PHARR — Weslaco High senior Amity Ebarb and Harlingen High senior Jose Garcia shined at the Rio Grande Valley’s Class 6A area track and field meet, each helping to break numerous all-time Valley re-cords during their standout performances Thursday night at PSJA Stadium in Pharr.
Ebarb set season records in both the 400-meter and 800-meter runs with times of 57.17 seconds and 2 minutes, 12.3 seconds, respectively.
The Panthers’ distance runner not only ran away with individual area titles in each event, but broke the Valley’s all-time 6A area meet records in both.
“It feels amazing. I just wanted to come and make the most of this opportunity,” Ebarb said. “The atmosphere feels so great. I’m only a few seconds off of my PRs now. It just feels so amazing and I’m just already looking forward to the next race.”
Ebarb also set a personal record to finish second in the long jump and anchored the Weslaco High 4×400 meter relay team that captured first place in a competitive heat over Edinburg Economedes and Edinburg Vela.
But, in her final individual race ever in the RGV, Ebarb — a Texas Longhorns signee — posted one of the top five fastest times in the 800 across the state this year and has positioned herself to challenge for the Valley’s all-time record in the event at the regional meet.
“I was actually able to place in jumps, too, which I wasn’t expecting. It feels great PRing in both of my jumps and breaking both records in both the races I ran,” she said. “My goals moving forward are to get closer to my PRs. Today I was only 1 second off my PR (in the 400) and I’m just going for that Valley record in the 800.”
On the boys side, Harlingen’s Garcia and Mission High’s Rogelio Aguirre elevated themselves above the competition.
Garcia cemented his reputation as one of the Valley’s most elite sprinters ever with a clean sweep of first place finishes in each of his events while also rewriting some history.
The Cardinals’ senior stole the show in the 100 after clocking in at 10.52 seconds, topping the rest of his competitors by more than half a second, and edged teammate Eric Quilantan for first place in the 200.
Garcia’s biggest moments of the day, however, came when he shattered the Valley’s all-time long jump record and anchored Harlingen’s 4×100 meter relay team that also set a new top time.
“It feels great because we’ve been training really hard, especially for these last few meets,” Garcia said. “We’ve been putting in a lot of work and make a lot of sacrifices to be that good. Hopefully our times go down even more at regionals.”
Garcia set a PR with a leap of 24 feet, 6.25 inches to break the Valley’s long jump record and beat all of his competitors by at least 18 inches in the event. His performance in the 4×100 relay alongside Quilantan, Ezvyn Zuniga and Pedro Luna set a record with a 41.79 second finish.
“This is my last year and I’m going to miss them,” Garcia said of his teammates. “We were just trying to qualify as a team and everyone was doing their part. We were taking care of business and trying not to worry about meet points or anything like that. It was about just trying to focus on our own races and qualifying (for regionals).”
Mission’s Aguirre dominated the distance events again after sweeping district titles in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 two weeks ago.
The Eagles’ junior earned a pair of individual area titles after beating his nearest competitors by 3 and 8 seconds in the 1600 and 3200, respectively.
“I know I’m capable of more, but that’s what came out today and I’ll take the win. I still have regionals to go and I’ll show what I can do there,” Aguirre said. “It’s tough when they’re sitting on you like that the whole time and knowing they’re constantly on (your tail), but I feel like it helps more because you know you have to push. You push or you lose.”
Ebarb and Garcia’s record-setting days also helped push the Weslaco girls and Harlingen boys to area team titles, as a number of Panthers and Cardinals punched their tickets to the regional meet.
The duo was grateful for the opportunity to compete at an area meet again for the first time in two years, but for Ebarb and Garcia — a pair of the Valley’s most accomplished senior track stars — the ultimate goal lies ahead in qualifying for the state meet before bringing their high school careers to a close.
“It feels so great knowing how last year was with everything being cut short,” Ebarb said. “It feels great to have this opportunity again to create these memories with (my teammates) during my last year.”
“My goal is to go up there to state (representing) for the Valley,” Garcia said. “I want to show that there’s kids that can run down here and that we have the potential to win it.”