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Garcia aims to place top 10 at state

Senior+Mana+Garcia+sits+upon+the+board%2C+ready+to+dive+in+at+a+moment%E2%80%99s+notice.+The+most+diffcult+dive+for+her+to+do+is+a+front+two+and+a+half.+
Senior Mana Garcia sits upon the board, ready to dive in at a moment’s notice. The most diffcult dive for her to do is a front two and a half.

Senior Mana Garcia sits upon the board, ready to dive in at a moment’s notice. The most diffcult dive for her to do is a front two and a half.

Andrew Eccles

Andrew Eccles

Senior Mana Garcia sits upon the board, ready to dive in at a moment’s notice. The most diffcult dive for her to do is a front two and a half.

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Senior Rosa (Mana) Garcia will go down as one of the most decorated female divers in the history of the school.     After a 15th place finish at state last year, Garcia has her sights set on a top 10 finish this season.

Earlier in the year at the Kearney High School Invitational on Jan. 5, Garcia earned an automatic trip to state with a score of 304.

The automatic state diving qualifying score is 300.00.

Garcia demonstrated she will be a force to contend with at state when she scored 335 points on Jan. 21, at the Twin Cities Invite.

Garcia is at a distinct disadvantage compared to many of her competitors because she does not dive year round.

“My biggest challenge to face for the rest of the season is most of the girls dive year around, while I’m doing other sports,” Garcia said.

Despite the disadvantage, Seacat’s Diving Coach Kim Holloway has high hopes for Garcia going into the state meet in Lincoln on Feb 22-24.

“I would love for Mana to be top eight at state, she’s been doing a lot harder dives this year,” Holloway said.

Garcia is fortunate she is still able to dive after an unfortunate accident at the annual Power Puff game between the junior and senior girls in November.

Garcia bruised two ribs during the game.

“I couldn’t raise my arms and hands as much, especially when taking off from a dive,” Garcia said.

In order to score more points at meets, Garcia has upped the difficulty of her dives.

“I just have to get through my nervousness, make sure I have good form, and just throw it and not hesitate. It’s not too difficult to learn a new dive; it’s the fear of hitting the water that’s the hard part,” Garcia said.

Holloway has seen Garcia blossom since she began coaching her three years ago.

“Mana is mentally tough, with a lot of natural talent. She’s willing to try anything,” Holloway said. “Since I’ve began to coach her, she’s become more patient, and much more team-focused.”

She was elected one of two female team captains for the season.

Garcia started diving as a freshman, even though she has been swimming since she was eight.

“I switched to diving because my mom was a diver when she was in high school, and it’s better than swimming,” Garcia said.

Even though swimming is more difficult than diving, Garcia still swims for the Seacats. This year she has swum the 100 breaststroke, 50 freestyle, and either 200 medley or freestyles relays.

Garcia’s athleticism is just as evident in the other sport she excels in:  track.

Her specialties are 100 and 300 hurdles.  Occasionally she runs a leg in the 4 by 100 or 4 by 400 relays.

“I have been training for track since June, up until diving started in November. I’m hoping to drop time in my events and do well at state,” Garcia said.

Last spring, Garcia had some of top hurdling times in the state, although her state experience was disappointing when she did not place.

Despite her athletic success, things have not always been easy for Garcia and her family.

Her older brother, Raul, was diagnosed with Adrenoleukodystrophy, when he was 8.

This is a rare disease characterized by the breakdown or loss of myelin, the protective sheath that surrounds the brain’s neurons and the nerve cells that allow people to think and control their muscles.

After he was diagnosed, Garcia and her family had to adjust.

The debilitating disease robbed Raul of all his body functions making him completely dependent upon his family for care.

“We didn’t take things for granted as much as we did before he got sick. My family and I had to learn new things like put food in his feeding tube and what medication to give him, how much he needed, and when,” Garcia said.

Raul lost his seven-year battle with the disease on Dec 29, 2014. He was 15 and Mona was 14.

Losing Raul was one of the hardest things she has ever had to go through.

“After losing Raul, it made it hard for me and my family to function,” Garcia said.

Garcia’s swimming journey is quickly coming to a close.  This week the team is at Kearney for GNAC and state is the following week.

For Garcia, a top 10 finish would be a great way to end her diving career and a perfect sedge way into her track season.

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