Central High School senior Sophie Jiménez has discovered her 800-meter mojo just in time for the upcoming Valley championships and, possibly, the state track and field championships.
Wednesday (May 9) at the North Area track and field meet at Clovis East High School, Jiménez ended her three-year quest for a personal record in her signature event.
“It was .01 seconds, but it’s better than nothing,” said Jiménez about her 2:15.91 time. That was good enough for second place behind Edison High freshman Kennedy Jennings, who won in 2:14.99.
Jiménez made a major statement her freshman season with a 2:15:92 time, then tore her right ACL playing soccer.
That resulted in missing her sophomore and junior seasons in recovery mode.
“I really wanted to PR today for sure,” said Jiménez, after her 800-meter race and after helping the Central 4x100-meter relay team to a win in 48.35, slower than the school-record 47.37 it established this season.
Placing in the top three was just as important, said Jiménez, because it means moving on to the May 19 Valley meet at Buchanan High School.
“Top three is the main priority, and then place and time comes after that,” she said.
Going for a personal best, she said, was uncertain following her injury.
“I didn’t know if I could hit them or not,” she said. “But, it took a lot of support from my family, my friends, my coaches for me to start believing in myself again.”
The 800 honestly kind of scares me because it’s such a long race and you have to think.
Jiménez believes she has her groove back in the 800-meter race, but, more importantly, she has figured out how to maneuver the race.
In the TRAC meet the previous week, Jiménez took the lead during the first lap and then allowed Buchanan High junior Meagan Lowe get ahead of her.
“But, then I couldn’t quite catch up,” said Jiménez, who finished in 2:16.93 to Lowe’s 2:15.43 in that meet.
“This meet, my goal was to draft for a large portion of the race, especially because of the wind.”
That paid off as she overtook Lowe (who finished third in the North Area meet) and almost closed the gap on Jennings.
Jiménez believes her best distances are from 100- to 400-meters, but because she posted a fast time in the 800 her freshman season, she focused on it.
“My coach said, ‘Well, that’s your best chance of getting into college.”
Jiménez will be going to Fresno State and concentrating on the 800-meter run and try the 1,600-meter distance.
“The 800 honestly kind of scares me because it’s such a long race and you have to think,” said Jiménez, who will major in biochemistry. “But, it’s my best race. I feel more comfortable running the 200s and 400s because I have been doing those for more years.”
Jiménez thinks her Central teammates are capable of improving upon the 4x100-meter relay record, which puts them among the top five in the state.
“The stars have to align,” said Jiménez. “All four girls have to be able to run, first of all.”
The team anchor has been out for a month due to a hamstring pull, and her replacement is sidelined because of grades.
“We would love to hit a 46,” said Jiménez, whose father, Pablo Jiménez, is a vice principal at Sunnyside High School. Her mother, Kelly, is a substitute teacher in Central Unified.
Jiménez, who poured herself into the school’s Interact Club and volunteering while injured, wants to become a genome engineer.
“I want to stymie hereditary diseases, or genetic abnormalities at the source by modifying the genes in early sperm, eggs and embryo,” she said. “It’s not a career that made yet, but I hope to make advancements in that.”
On the side, she added, she would like to be a chemistry professor. “I love teaching chemistry.”