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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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Despite injuries, her passion for competing stops at nothing

Matt Johnson
City College’s freshman track and field athlete, Jessica Escalante, sets her position on the starting blocks on Friday, April 11, at La Playa Stadium in Santa Barbara. Escalante, 19, recovered from three knee surgeries to become a sprinter and javelinist on the team.

Freshman track and field athlete Jessica Escalante may have had three anterior cruciate ligament injuries, but even those alone couldn’t take her away from one of the sport she loves.

Escalante started to take interest in Track and Field in middle school. She mentioned that the combination of being a part of a team, exercising and working towards a common goal is what really drew her to the sport.

“It’s something that is fun yet challenging and gives me time to relax and clear my mind,” Escalante said.

“I started doing it in Physical Education class and really liked it, so I decided to continue into high school. I played basketball, soccer, volleyball, and tried all these sports. Track just seemed like a fun one to do.”

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However, track and field wasn’t the only sport that stuck with her after going to high school, she found love for basketball as well. Escalante, a Santa Barbara local who graduated from Dos Pueblos High School, didn’t originally attend City College.

“I didn’t come to SBCC right after high school,” said Escalante. “I went to Cal Lutheran to play basketball and run track for them.”

Due to repeated injuries, her basketball career would be temporarily derailed.

“I had my third ACL tear in my first pre-season game of basketball,” she continued.

“So I decided to stop, since I wanted to be able walk when I’m 40,” Escalante said jokingly.

Although at the time, things were not all jokes. Losing the ability to play a sport she loved hurt more than the injuries themselves.

“It was hard for me,” said Escalante. “Being something you’ve done your whole life, it was like a breakup almost.”

After the injury, Escalante decided it was time for a change. Cal Lutheran became a thing of the past, and in turn, Santa Barbara City College the present.

“It was just too small of a school,” said Escalante (on Cal Lutheran). “It didn’t really feel like a college. I wanted something bigger and more diverse, so I decided to come back home and I absolutely love it.”

Although the school changed, the interest didn’t, Escalante’s mind was still set on track and field. As the disappointment from the injury settled, anticipation for a new season kicked in.

Even though basketball had to be pushed aside, track and field became more than just the other sport she enjoyed. It became the logical choice.

“Getting a chance to run track seemed right, since it is a non-contact sport,” said Escalante. “I was really excited for this track season, because I didn’t get to do it that year from surgery.”

On top of the excitement was high praise, as she has found happiness with her new track team.

“SBCC track program is awesome,” Escalante said. “I think they do a really good job.”

Track and field Head Coach, Scott Fickerson, also speaks highly of Escalante and what she brings to the team.

“Jessica has brought a strong work ethic and a determination to be the best she can be,” said Fickerson. “She wants to be in those big meet situations where the competition is strong and she will perform her best in those meets.”

Fickerson also touched on Escalante’s ability to lead by example.

“This is always the first step towards being a captain,” said Fickerson.

“You must first demonstrate a willingness to work towards your goals. I have no doubt that her teammates look up to her in this respect.”

Now happy to be competing after the injuries, Escalante’s drive and determination has found areas on the track she can improve on.

“I really want to improve my 100-meter time and get better at my starts,” said Escalante.

She was named the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Athlete of the Week, March 31.  Escalante won the 100-meter and 200-meter events at the Western State Conference Coastal meet.

The “track” in track and field isn’t the only thing Escalante is focused on; she recently found interest in a new event.

No matter what part of track and field it may be, Escalante finds enjoyment in it.

“To me it’s more than just a sport, it is something I have a passion for and will probably continue to practice as I grow older. I love being part of a team.”

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