By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
The Port Isabel Lady Tarpons mile relay team is ready for the next step. That would be this week’s UIL Region IV Track and Field Meet at Javelina Stadium on the campus of Texas A&M Kingsville University.
The Lady Tarpon foursome advanced to regional competition by winning the event at last week’s area meet, which was held at the same site. Their time of 4:06.39 was a season best and compares favorably with Wharton’s winning time of 4:05.98 at last year’s regional meet. The top four finishers in each event at the area meet advanced to regionals.
A different set of Lady Tarpon runners ran this event in last year’s regional meet and did not come close to making the finals with a clocking of 4:45.17. That’s an improvement of 39 full seconds for this year’s foursome of Natalie Garza, Simone Harry, Ava Gomez, and Gabby Torres. Each of these four runners took time out from practice this past Monday to share her thoughts with the Press.
Natalie Garza runs the opening leg and compared the relay with the 400-meter dash, which she also runs. “I run it totally differently from the 4×400,” Garza said. “In the 4×400 I run faster because it’s a group effort and my team is counting on me.”
Simone Harry takes the baton from Garza and runs the second leg. She talked about the baton exchange between Garza and herself; “It was better (at area) than the last one but it still has a lot of room for improvement. We’ll fix that.” Harry was well satisfied, though, with her part of the race, saying that it was the fastest leg in the event that she has run all season.
Ava Gomez took the hand off from Harry and ran the third leg at the area meet; “I saw Simone come in and I took off and it was a good hand off and … in the last 100 I thought I was going to die. I kept the lead.”
“I think we all ran a good race and it all just kinda’ comes second-nature now,” Gabby Torres, who runs the final, or anchor leg said. “I’ve been pretty consistent lately, hitting 1:01’s. Usually we have a decent lead but this meet, because (of) better competition we didn’t have quite as big a lead as we usually have, so I just ran my hardest. I didn’t coast at all because I wasn’t sure how close they were to me.”
The schedule of events this weekend at Kingsville will allow Torres to compete in all five events for which she is qualified. “I’m just going to make it work. I have a little gap, some rest time, between my running and my high jump, which is good because high jump is my favorite event. I’m not going to be totally killing myself.”
Coach Breedlove talked about the strategy of the 4×400-meter relay; “With the 400, the kids have to balance out that mix of speed and endurance,” she said, comparing it to the 4×200-meters. “We want them coming out hard and strong that first 100, and then run tall and relaxed on the straight on the other side, so that when they come around that back corner they can start speeding up.”
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