Two days before the Avis Kelley Invitational at Gilroy High on March 26, San Benito High junior Jocelyn Alexander threw the shot put 35 feet in her warm-up attempts during a league dual meet against Salinas High.
Alexander was hopeful—almost expecting—to repeat 35 feet when it counted for real. Although Alexander didn’t hit that distance that day, she only had to wait 48 hours for another opportunity to establish a personal-record (PR).
And that’s exactly what Alexander did, unleashing a throw of 36-4 to smash her previous PR by nearly 2 ½ feet. Alexander’s performance vaulted her to the top mark in the Central Coast Section. Alexander nailed a PR for the second time in as many weeks, as her previous best of 33-11 ½ came on March 19 at the Garlic Classic Invitational.
The latter mark was all the more impressive considering it was done amid a downpour, not exactly ripe conditions conducive for a PR. Bad weather? No problem.
“I was kind of using the weather as a way to get out my anger in the shot put especially,” said Alexander, who also holds the No. 3 mark in the discus throw at 116-7. “Not that if I’m angry I throw better, but I have more power in a way so it was kind of a good thing to be mad at the weather.”
Back to the Avis Kelley: Alexander’s result complemented a superb performance from the San Benito boys 4×100 relay team that catapulted to the No. 2 mark in the CCS with a sterling 43.30 time. The quartet of Malachi Zabala, Andrew Speech, Isaiha Molina and Jayden Freidt blazed around the track and looks to stay on top when it counts the most—at the CCS Trials and Finals in May.
Speech had a huge day, running a PR of 22.57 in the 200 meters, the No. 5 mark in the section. The girls 4×400 relay team of Madison Minkel, Gabriella Romero, Jasayla Mariscal and Gia Felice went 4:11.48 to vault themselves to the No. 3 mark in the section.
Alexander took up track and field in her freshman year after some prodding from Ryan Shorey, who coaches the San Benito team along with Rob Macias. Shorey was Alexander’s biology class teacher and convinced Alexander the sport would provide great preseason training for her next basketball season. After a skills exercise, Shorey suggested that Alexander try the throwing events, and was soon taken under the wing of former Balers standout Julia Hicks, who holds the school record in the discus. Alexander and Hicks formed a close friendship and the two still exchange weekly messages now that Hicks is at Boise State.
“She’s still a big part of my life,” Alexander said. “I miss her at every meet. It’s sad she’s gone now, but now it’s my time to be like Julia and help the younger people. Seeing her throw super far, I wanted to be like her. I listened to (throws coach Bob) Rawles and listened to Julia, too, because she would have good advice.”
At the start of the season, Alexander had to wear a brace on her left (non-throwing) hand after suffering a fractured metacarpal near the end of the basketball season.
“I have the brace off and it’s all healed now, but one of my knuckles is still down,” she said. “(The doctor) said it would come back up but it hasn’t so I might have a weird looking left hand for a while.”
A combo guard, Alexander had another solid basketball season, the sport she’s been playing far longer than track and field. However, Alexander has developed a love for the latter sport that rivals basketball.
“I like both sports for different reasons,” she said. “In track, it’s up to you to perform; you’re alone out there. You have to set the mark and compare it to others. You can also help others with their technique.”
After finishing 10th in the shot put and 11th in the discus in the CCS Finals last year, Alexander is primed for a top three finish in both events this season. Rawles has been a huge help for Alexander over the years and she said another assistant coach, Austin Connery, will also provide valuable tips and technical counsel going forward.
Alexander got particularly excited after her throw of 33-11 ½ at the Garlic Classic Invitational—which at the time set a PR and would be eclipsed just a week later.
“I turned around and coach (Rawles) said ‘Awesome,’” Alexander said. “For him to say that, I knew it was a good throw and I was really proud of it.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]