Mike Powers| News-Bulletin photo
Jesus Garza, of Los Lunas, has emerged as one of the top javelin throwers in New Mexico.

Los Lunas 

It’s a story we’ve heard countless times — a young man joins the track team because of a girl … and falls in love with the javelin instead. Not exactly the stuff of a romance novel.  

However, that is the backstory behind the emergence of Jesus Garza, of Los Lunas, as one of the best high school javelin throwers in New Mexico.  

While we don’t know what happened with the girl, Garza eventually found his niche.  

“I wasn’t fast enough to run sprints,” said Garza, who also tried distance running. “One of my friends went, ‘You used to play baseball. Why don’t you go out for the throwing events?’”   

With that, Garza grabbed the spear, “and I chucked it, and it went pretty far — ever since then it just clicked.”  

Three years later, Garza, a senior, has qualified again for the state championships and is a contender for a medal. His toss of more than 163 feet at the Los Lunas Invitational would have placed sixth at last year’s 5A state meet.   

LLHS weights coach Roland Desonier has been with Garza from the start of his journey.  

“He’s made really good progression for a guy who didn’t even know what a javelin was three years ago,” Desonier said. “He’ll get on the podium (top six at state) if he stays healthy.”  

There’s the rub.  Staying healthy. 

“Last year, he opened as the No. 1 thrower in the state and tweaked his elbow and the whole season was kind of iffy,” Desonier recalled. “The problem is, he’s got a really lively arm and that’s what he relies on. The javelin, you sling it with your whole body.”  

Which is what Garza has been working on.  

“I know how to use my body to a point,” he said. “You transfer that energy into the crossovers,” the jog before the throw, “and you finally land, hit a good block and let it fly out of your hands.”   

Desonier, a national hammer throw champion at Long Island University, is watching closely.  

“I’m trying to teach him to put the run into the throw, which is what the Olympians and the national champions do,” the coach said. “If he can do that, he can compete with anyone.”  

The most critical aspect, according to Garza, is “throwing the javelin to the tip” upon release.  

“That just means being able to control the javelin and its flight, so it doesn’t come out sideways or anything and just comes out straight,” the LLHS senior said. “It’s nice and fluid.”  

Garza also does well in the shot put and discus for the Tigers, but javelin is his favorite event.  

“It’s like hate and love because some days you do good … then yesterday I could barely throw it,” Garza said. “It’s back and forth, but it’s a challenge I like.”  

At 5-foot, 10-inches tall, 193 pounds, Garza does not have the perfect stature for the sport, which often sees taller competitors with longer wingspans.    

Still, the hope is to impress college scouts over the last few high school meets and continue throwing in college.  The University of New Mexico is his target.  

“I’d like to stay at home and support my family here,” he said.  

Desonier believes it is possible. He plans to visit with UNM to try and pave the way for Garza to walk-on for the Lobos.  

“This process and this journey isn’t just me. It’s definitely a lot of friends, my trainer, my coach. All of them,” Garza said, including his faith.  

There are several big tests ahead, including April 26-27, at Albuquerque Academy’s Richard Harper Invitational, and May 17-18 the State Track and Field Championships at UNM Track-Soccer Complex.  

Marilyn Sepulvida Meet of Champions 

Monday, Garza and three other LLHS athletes competed in the prestigious Marilyn Sepulvida Meet of Champions at the University of New Mexico. Garza was fourth with a throw of 151-5. Demetrio Pena finished fourth (20-5) in the boy’s long jump, Jeronimo Herrera eighth (39-0) in the triple jump and Dominique Armijo tenth (14-7) in the girl’s long jump. 

 

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Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.