When Anisha Garner moved to Texas and Hurst L.D. Bell before her freshman season, she was already prepared to compete against high school athletes at the varsity level in track and field.
That’s because she had already done so at her school in Syracuse, New York. In that state, under certain circumstances, students in eighth grade can compete at the high school level if they’re good enough.
And she was definitely good enough. She was, in fact, named one of two MVPs of her varsity program.
“I’d only run two years of track, but I was used to competing against seniors,” the Lady Raiders senior said. “I was around older people.”
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Bell coach Gerry Smith said he knew immediately upon arrival Garner had a place in his program.
“Her dad had called to let us know about her, and if she could do what she’d done in the past, we knew we had a spot for her,” he said.
“She just stepped in her ninth-grade year and fit right in.”
Garner leads the Lady Raiders this season with four gold medals and a silver in the triple jump. She also runs a leg of the 4x100-meter and 4x400 relays, along with the 100 dash, and has even high jumped.
“We’re still planning on where to use her at district,” Smith said.
The District 5-6A meet is Wednesday and Thursday (April 12-13) at Flower Mound. The top four finishers in each event advance to the area 5/6-6A meet next week at Trophy Club Nelson.
Garner is hoping to make her second postseason appearance. As a sophomore, she placed third in district in the triple jump, also placing eighth at area.
Her top jump this season is 35 feet, 8 inches, a school record on March 24 at the Garland Lakeview Centennial Patriot Relays. She said her goal is to reach 37 feet this season.
“I feel really good. I feel I’m in good jumping shape, and I feel I have a good attitude,” she said. “You have to have a good attitude.
“Over the summer I focused on the triple jump. I like that event and I’m pretty decent in it.”
Garner plans to attend Texas Wesleyan University next year and hopes to walk onto the track team.
“I know they don’t have a lot of jumpers, so I feel like I have a good chance,” she said.
She also plans on getting a degree in athletic training.
“I want to work with professional athletes,” Garner said.
“I think college is where she will really thrive,” Smith said. “She’ll be around people who specialize in their events. She’s always thought of herself as a jumper.”