Jaguars lucky seven
Posted: 5/1/2014
Written by:

Nicholas Baltz / Co-Sports Editor (The Sun)



Javelins flying, hurdlers soaring, records falling.

It’s track and field season at Southwestern College and this year’s squad is teeming with talent.

Head coach Tonie Campbell said his athletes have already broken 12 school records and personal records are falling weekly.

“We’re still on a record-breaking season this year and it’s been unexpected,” he said. “We have a great group of coaches, disciplined athletes and we’re just having fun. It’s a winning combination.”

Leading the Jaguars is sophomore team captain Paula Aleman. Campbell said that Aleman is a major contender for the state championship in the 400-meter hurdles.

“She’s on a mission and that’s the type of athlete you like,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun day. I’m going to have my popcorn ready up in the bleachers watching that one.”

Aleman is currently ranked second in the state in the 400mh and is the anchor for the 4 x 400 meter women’s rely team. She dreams of competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics, but not for the United States.

“Ever since I was a little girl I always wanted to represent Mexico,” she said. “Now that it is a possibility, I’m working even harder than anybody else I know.”

Returning state high jump champion Branden Greene looks to continue his reign and add a long jump title to his resume. Jumping coach Kuba Wasowski said Greene cleared a mental barrier.

“At a certain level every athlete runs into that height where they don’t really believe in their heart that they can clear,” he said. “You have to train them mentally first to be able to overcome that.”

Mental training methods can be as simple as a trick of the eyes.

“In practice, before he shows up, I put the bar at 7-feet-8-inches or higher,” said Wasowski. “I need him to constantly see that height, that ultimate elite height. Then, when the bar comes down to 7-feet, it doesn’t look so high to him.”

Seven-feet is nothing to sophomore pole-vaulter Korin Chapman. She was a state finalist last season and owns the women’s school record. Despite suffering an ankle injury, Chapman fought through the pain to finish first and record her season’s best vault of 11-5 ¾ inches at the Ross and Sharon Irwin Invite at Pt. Loma Nazerne University.

Campbell said Chapman is a petite warrior.

“She’s the most pleasant person you’ll ever meet and you don’t see that killer instinct in her normally until you see it on the field,” he said. “It’s like a Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde that comes out in her. She’s an amazing athlete and I don’t think she’s done.”

Another breakout star is multi-talented freshman Maria De Jesus Garcia, who won her first individual competition, the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Heptathlon/Decathlon Championship at Cuyamaca College.

The two-day, seven-event competition consists of high jump, shot put, 100-meter hurdles, 200-meter sprints, javelin, long jump and the 800-meter run. Her point total of 3,507 broke the women’s school record. She currently ranks seventh in the state for the heptathlon.

Campbell has been blown away by her performance.

“She’s a woman who’s never done the heptathlon and has taken it like the cliché duck to water,” he said. “To do it on her first attempt and get ranked in the state, it’s amazing.”

With so many new events, De Jesus Garcia is constantly pushing her limits.

“You have to go all out in every single one,” she said. “It depends on points. If I’m not good in one event I have to go hard in another one. You get a half hour between each event so you have a little bit of time to gain all of your energy back.”

A big year is also expected from the throwers, said Campbell.

“Other than that we have an amazing team,” he said. “I mean Grace Ward is coming from basketball and on her first throw of the season breaks the school record by almost 2 meters, that’s phenomenal.”

A unique advantage for the Jaguars is they get to practice in a world-class facility, the United States Olympic Training Center. Campbell, an Olympic medalist, said that it is a dream scenario.

“A world champion just walked off the field a second ago,” he said. “Some of them become friends with our athletes and they share their experiences. It’s a ship that can’t be beat. Being here is a great privilege and one that I don’t take lightly.”

Ward is one athlete who benefits.

“Not only do you have a beautiful facility, you have beautiful people who work out in this facility who help you grow as a person.”

A shot-putter in high school, Ward said there are similarities to basketball.

“Just like when you shoot the ball in basketball, if your release is not right, it doesn’t matter how perfect your feet or how soon you release it,” she said. “If it doesn’t follow through right, it’s not going in.”

With the state championship looming and his team peaking, Campbell said he is thankful to have an amazing supporting cast.

“We surround ourselves with really good people. They all have a passion for the athletes, for the sport and to elevate each individual’s personal performances so that it garnishes attention hopefully from a university to get a scholarship and get a second chance at this.”

SWC News Room Graphic
Recent Posts
The Southwestern College Governing Board approved the college’s tentative budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year at its June 14 meeting. The $114.9 million spending plan includes $98.6 million—more than 85 percent of the budget—for personnel expenses, including $3.9 million to fund 58 vacant positions.... READ MORE
The Southwestern College Governing Board unanimously voted at its June 14 meeting to refinance a portion of Proposition R bonds to give taxpayers a potential savings of approximately $13.4 million.... READ MORE
The Southwestern College community gathered Tuesday for a candle light vigil organized by the Associated Student Organization (ASO) in honor of the Orlando shooting victims. ... READ MORE
This has been a weekend of mourning as we have tried to understand the murder of 49 and the wounding of 53 of our brothers and sisters in Orlando, Florida. The hate and prejudice that precipitated these acts must not be the behavior that defines us. ... READ MORE
Southwestern College will join Minority Male Community College Collaborative’s (M2C3) first consortium dedicated to improving and advancing the success of men of color as well as students from historically underserved communities. ... READ MORE
The Campaign for College Opportunity together with the California Business Roundtable honored three local San Diego community colleges on June 2nd in Sacramento for being statewide leaders in significantly increasing the number of students earning an Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT).... READ MORE
A record 816 students are set to participate in Southwestern College’s largest commencement ceremony ever on Friday, May 27, at 4 p.m., in the newly renovated DeVore Stadium at the Chula Vista Campus.... READ MORE
The number of Southwestern College graduates earning an Associate Degree for Transfer, which guarantees admission to the California State University system, increased 138% from 2013-14 to 2014-15, making it one of the greatest increases in the state, according to a new report by the Campaign for College Opportunity.... READ MORE
Soon you will be able to tour the Southwestern College campus from anywhere in the world. We’re not talking about a basic 360 degree panorama, a fully immersive virtual reality experience will give anyone with a smartphone the ability to wander the sidewalks of Southwestern College and witness what the students see every day as they head to class.... READ MORE
Thousands. The number of laps that have been swum in the pools. The number of miles ran on the treadmills. The number of reps lifted in the weight room. The number of students who have been educated. The number of the building... READ MORE