Zach Duncan, Special to Big Country Preps
Niomi Wines isn’t surprised she qualified for the UIL Class 4A state track meet.
The Big Spring freshman will compete in the high jump at 9 a.m. Thursday and then turn around and run the 200 later that night.
“I thought it was a realistic goal, I just had to work a little bit to achieve it,” Wines said. “It was very realistic from the start.”
Just because Wines thought she could advance to Austin doesn’t mean she’s without nerves heading into the sport’s biggest stage. How the 15-year-old handles the mental aspect of state could determine whether she makes a trip to the medal stand or not.
Big Spring track coach Audrey Dunn believes the Lady Steers’ lone state qualifier is ready for the moment. Wines already stepped up against stiff regional competition, winning gold in both events.
“For the youth that she has, she competes like a seasoned athlete,” Dunn said. “Her poise, her determination and overall competitiveness truly set her apart from some of the other athletes we’ve seen.”
Wines played on Big Spring’s sub-varsity volleyball and basketball teams, although she got moved up during the Lady Steers’ postseason hoops run. She made an instant impact in varsity track, competing in five regional events as a freshman – the others being the 4×200 and 4×400 relays plus long jump.
Wines said her favorite event is the high jump. She set a personal-best height of 5-foot-5 in Lubbock, edging out Stephenville’s Keirstyn Carlton by an inch for the Region I-4A title.
“It was a great very feeling. I was very proud of myself for that accomplishment,” Wines said. “It definitely made me feel more confident (for the 200) knowing I can run with this level of competition.”
The freshman caught everyone’s attention by jumping 5-4 at Big Spring’s home meet on March 10. She has finished first in every high jump competition except at the San Angelo Relays where she went up against 6A athletes.
“Her skill is God-given, it’s just natural,” Dunn said. “For us, the challenge is trying to work on the little details, the fundamentals, and helping her gain some self-confidence.”
Wines will be in the mix of a competitive 4A high jump competition as three girls converted 5-6 at regionals and two others plus Wines are coming off 5-5. If Wines can add another inch from regionals, she’ll tie Big Spring’s school record set by Alexis Casillas in 2000.
“I usually step up when there’s competition, so it might happen,” Wines said.
Both Dunn and Wines said the biggest key in the 200 is a fast start out of the blocks. Her quickest time in the 200 was a 25.34 at area, and the ninth grader almost equaled that at regionals with a 25.40. She’ll enter state with the sixth-quickest 4A time.
Athletics isn’t the only competition where Wines thrives. Dunn said she’s a straight-A student who doesn’t miss a beat in the classroom.
“Her competitiveness out in the field or on the court is carried over into academics,” Dunn said. “She doesn’t like to get a bad grade and wants to make sure she understands the concept. She’s hard on herself, she’s just so eager.”
Wines will be eager to leave Austin with some hardware, too. Before this spring, basketball was her favorite sport, but with her recent success, track is starting to close that gap.
What goals has she set for Thursday’s events? The same she has for every meet.
“Go out and do the best I can do,” she said.