TWIN FALLS • Perhaps it was all in Anthony Garcia’s head. But he wasn’t taking any chances this time.
The Canyon Ridge sophomore high-jumper cleared 5-feet-10 inches as a freshman en route to state in 2015. This season he cleared the 6-foot mark.
But since setting that personal best mark on April 1, Garcia hadn’t been able to reach that same level.
The difference? A bottle of something called “K.D. Juice.”
One of Garcia’s friends gave him a swig from a plastic bottle at the Tim Dunne Invite before he jumped that fateful April day. Garcia proceeded to perform the best jump of his life.
“K.D. Juice,” short for Kevin Durant Juice, was the culprit. It was aptly named because it apparently made him jump like the NBA superstar.
“At Jerome, my friend gave me this juice and was like, ‘Hey, this is K.D. Juice. It will give you hops,’” Garcia said with a laugh. “So I drank some and thats when I PR’d at 6-feet, and I haven’t been able to get it again. I didn’t drink any K.D. juice, I guess.’”
When Garcia pulled another empty bottle of “K.D. Juice” out of his backpack on Wednesday at the 4A District IV Championships, it turned out to be a bottle of Sparkling Ice that can be bought at nearly any grocery store in the country.
Garcia jumped a career-best 6-foot-2 inches en route to the district title on Wednesday, edging out Twin Falls’ Dallin Harris by virtue of having less scratches on the day.
Maybe it was the juice. Maybe it wasn’t. But Garcia is glad he hydrated nonetheless.
“Today I was like, it’s my superstition, I guess I’ll go get some. I drank that today and I got 6-foot-2,” said Garcia. “I think it’s all just in my head. I could have probably got it the whole time. But it definitely helped. It’s some magic or something.”
Garcia was one of a few winners on the first day of the Great Basin West Conference Championships at Twin Falls High School. While many of the events were prelims for Thursday’s finale of running events, 10 different district champions were crowned on Wednesday.
Minico’s team of girls won the medley relay event with a time of 1:53.69, nearly four seconds ahead of their previous season best. The Lady Spartans team started off behind the 8-ball after a bad early baton exchange and looked unlikely to recover.
But with help from freshman anchor Taylia Stimpson, Minico was able to overtake Wood River late and win in a thriller. Stimpson approached from the outside and, seemingly out of nowhere, willed her and her team to a win.
“Our handoff was really bad. But I was able to kind of keep my energy up until we hit the last 100-meters. And I just kicked it as hard as I could,” said Stimpson. “I was trying to not psyche myself out about it. It’s just a normal track meet. State is where it really matters. Winning districts is just the next step.”
The Wood River boys won the medley with a time of 3:37.42, just four seconds ahead of second-place finisher Minico. Jerome’s Kathryn Craig cruised to a victory in the 3,200-meter run while Twin Falls sophomore Cannon Leavitt dominated in the boys race.
A year ago as a freshman, Leavitt finished tied for fifth-place in districts and barely made it to state. This time around he’s a champion. The major reason for his jump in success is due to what he calls an increased practice regiment; he’s running more miles per week than he did in 2015. Because of that, he has better stamina. That fact certainly showed Wednesday when he finished nearly 200-meters in front of his next closest competitor.
“Mileage. I’ve talked to some people and I’ve done a solid program. But mileage, I can’t emphasize enough how much that helps … It just makes you stronger,” said Leavitt. “It feels really good. It’s gratifying.”
In the field events, winners were crowned in the boys high-jump, long jump and shot put. On the girls side finals were held in the pole vault, triple jump and discus.
Minico’s Trent Chandler and Kabre Madrigal won the boys shot put and girls discus, respectively. Burley’s Jesus Cardenas won the boys long jump while Twin Falls’ Lindsey Williams took first in the girls triple jump.
Girls pole-vault winner Ariana McKinnon from Canyon Ridge went from jumping 7-feet-6 inches to winning districts with a mark of 9-feet. It was simply a matter of extra practice for the junior.
“I’ve been working super hard in practice,” said McKinnon. “And I’ve been staying later, just enjoying pole-vaulting more as I continue to learn.”
The 4A District IV Championships continue Thursday afternoon. The field events begin at 1:30 while the running events are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.