By Rich Fisher | Correspondent
Those who are impressed by Michael Phelps’ medal haul at the Olympics might want to check out what Miguel Jimenez-Vergara has done at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions since arriving in high school.
SEE PHOTOS FROM THE MEET OF CHAMPIONS, HERE.
For the second straight year, the Notre Dame High School junior won gold medals in all seven wheelchair events at the MOC, which took place on June 10 at Northern Burlington High School, Columbus.
In 20 Meet of Champion events since his freshman year, Jimenez-Vergara has won 19 golds and finished second once – in the 400 meters to Linden’s Matthew Tohon as a freshman. Tohon won by 0.58 seconds.
This year, the parishioner of St. Paul, Princeton, broke his own meet records in the 400 (55.21), 800 (1:53.39) and 1600 (4:01.11). He won the 100 in 16.97 and is still gunning for that mark.
“My goal was to drop the records and to break the 100 record,” Jimenez-Vergara said. “I was happy with most of my times because of the horrible wind conditions and the tracks sponginess.”
Indeed, the surface made it difficult to cut through with the wheels. And yet he was barely challenged in any event.
“I was a bit surprised by that,” Jimenez-Vergara said. “I occasionally practice with the guys I raced at the MOC and they are very good competitors. I definitely did not expect this outcome.”
His 1600 race was probably the most difficult, since he was going against just one other competitor. Because of that, it became difficult for Miguel to push himself to another record.
“I have, in the past, struggled with self-pacing,” he said. “These kinds of events help me learn along the way.”
In what had to be the busiest and most grueling day of any athlete out there, Jimenez-Vergara also won all three throwing events. He took the discus in 52-11, javelin in 53-8 and shot in 19-0.
His throws are almost more impressive than his races, considering his entire distances are generated by upper body strength and technique.
“To me, the key to most of my success in track and field is that I spend hours and hours focusing on just technique by watching videos and doing the motions in slowed down forms,” he said. “I know that I may not be as big or powerful as the people I compete against, so I must capitalize on my technique.”
Jimenez-Vergara takes great pride in his domination of New Jersey competition, but is looking beyond his home state.
“It means a lot to know I am excelling in the sport,” he said. “But I still know that there is definitely room for improvement and that this is only the tip of the iceberg.
“Although I am very honored to be able to compete alongside my able-bodied counterparts and show them what I do; my biggest achievement was medaling at the US Paralympic trials in Los Angeles and qualifying for the Junior Team going to Switzerland (in late July).”
Since he will have a new chair by then, Miguel hopes to drop his times drastically “considering how good of a track it is.” As for his future, Jimenez is considering numerous colleges, but is mainly focused on the University of Illinois since that is the home of the U.S. Paralympic Training Site. UI has long been recognized for its outstanding success in Paralympic sports.[[In-content Ad]]