Tate Garcia emerges from the pool, becomes ILH girls discus champion

When ‘Iolani swimmer Tate Garcia and some friends decide to join the track and field team, they had no inkling that one of them would become an ILH champion. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser.

She is the one who heaves the disk.

She also heaves it farther than any girl in the ILH. When Tate Garcia left the swimming pool this spring, she devoted much of her free time to the discus. Swimming remains her sport of top priority, but the ‘Iolani junior launched the disc 95 feet, 11 inches to win the ILH championship on Saturday at Alexander Field. Garcia overcame a solid field that included runner-up Tiana Ma‘afala of Damien (88-08) and Anya Ortiz of Kamehameha (88-05).

‘Iolani teammate Miyah Soares finished fourth (81-04), and another Damien thrower, Shayna Selesele, was fifth (79-03).

Earning a track and field title is for her team, and also her family.

“My parents are so supportive of me, and my grandparents, too. They’re kind of surprised, I don’t know. I love them,” Garcia said.

Her focus remains on school, and her time will be reallocated in part to swimming. She won’t touch a discus until next spring.

“I want to throw 100,” she said. “I’m convinced this is what it is. I pray before every single throw. Even this last one, I felt the sun coming out. It felt different. I just take everything to God. I put it all in his hands. Whatever is meant to be is meant to be.”

The idea of competing in track and field didn’t fully occur to Garcia for some time.

“I like discus because of my teammates and coaches. They make it a lot of fun,” she said. “My friends, we’re all kind of new to it. It’s a lot of fun. It’s supposed to be something new that we all tried together.”

Her best throw came on her last attempt. She had indicated to her coaches that she wanted to depart from the spin technique during her final attempts in the finals. In turn, the coaches, including head coach Shane Hedani, gave her their blessing.

“They leave it up to me. I chose to stand on the last one because it’s been kind of slippery today. It’s the first rainy day (this season),” Garcia said.

Hedani and his staff have a balanced team with lots of younger contributors. Garcia’s emergence came with just a couple of months of training.

“You know, she’s an athletic girl and she’s very coachable, and you put that together with good coaches who are working with them every day. I knew she’d do well, but she did way better than we expected for her first full year of track,” Hedani said. “Since she’s a junior, we hope for even better things next year.”

The history of swimmers becoming champions in track and field is quite limited.

“I had a water polo player years back, Chase Weber, who ended up second in the state and he was a swimmer/water polo player,” Hedani recalled. “He started from a young age. His father also threw shot put and stuff when he was in high school, so we had that going for him. He had coaching at practice and coaching at home.”

The Raiders coach hopes Hedani gets more comfortable with a full spin delivery as she gains experience.

“Hopefully, she gets more comfortable with some of the changes we have. She’s more comfortable with standing and it paid off. She had her best throw of the day. What we want her try and get her to be is more comfortable in the spin, which of course will increase her distance, maybe increase her chances in the state tournament next year. That’s the goal,” Hedani said. “She has good feet. She has good balance. That helps a lot.”

Garcia looks like a sprinter more than a field-event champion. Her power is stunning.

“At ‘Iolani, we rarely have the biggest,” Hedani said.

The Raiders finished second overall in the team standings to champion Punahou.


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