Pariis Garcia: Continuing her family’s St. John’s legacy

Secondary: The junior sprinter’s parents have always supported her

Carmine Carcieri, Staff Writer

Improvement and development are two keys to any college sports program and the St. John’s track and field team has seen these drastic developments from Pariis Garcia.

Garcia, who is a junior mid-distance runner, won the 400-meter dash at last month’s Big East Indoor Track and Field Championship (her first individual title), as she put up the seventh fastest time in the history of the program. She also has settled in at school with the help of her parents, former St. John’s runners and a wonderful coaching staff.

The 5’7” sprinter’s parents, Alberto and Youree Garcia, graduated in 1988 after tremendous careers in the track and field program. Youree’s success will leave an everlasting impact on Queens.  Youree was inducted into the St. John’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013 after winning 11 total Big East individual titles and was named 1985 Big East Indoor Championship Outstanding Athlete.

With her parents having so much success, Garcia dealt with a “little bit” of pressure early in her St. John’s career, but has relished the fact that the ex-runners have been a significant help to her progress on the track.

“If I felt pressure, it was from me or the people knowing them,” Garcia said. “It wasn’t directly from them. They helped me because they have always loved St. John’s. They always had a good word about the environment or the coaching staff and that really helped me because it made me very comfortable.”

Garcia has also enjoyed the presence of head coach Jim Hurt and his assistant Aliann Pompey, who have both instilled confidence and strong expectations in the Staten Island native both on and off the track.

“I’ve known coach Hurt forever because he coached my parents,” Garcia said. “But I’ve got to know him more over the last four years and he wants the best for all of us in every way. I don’t think there’s a better head coach out there than him.”

“[Pompey] is very different from any coach I’ve had. If I don’t feel that I run as well, she’s so confident in her training that, in return, it makes me very confident. That’s the number one thing in track. It’s mental.”

The expectations, pressure and hard work are all paying off, though as Garcia already qualified for the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championship and hopes to win the Big East Championship in the 400-meter dash and 200-meter dash.

“I also definitely want to make it to National Meet (NCAA Outdoor Championships) for the 400 (yard dash) and the 4-by-4 (relay),” Garcia said. “So hopefully we make it to Eugene.”

And with those goals in reach, Pariis’ family and coaching staff will be by her side hoping for more success for both the family’s legacy and the program.