Carlos Hernandez from the Texas Shooting Stars successfully jumping seven feet to win first place Saturday at the USA Region X Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships in Pueblo, Colorado. Raymond Cobos/Special to the El Paso Times (rc)

By Aaron Bracamontes

EL PASO -- Raw is a word that best describes the talent Carlos Hernandez has in the high jump.

Scary would best describe how good he could be with more work.

The Texas Shooting Stars member and Franklin High School student proved how much potential he has when he won the young men's high jump with a 7-foot jump at the USA Track and Field Region 10 Junior Olympic Championships last week in Pueblo, Colo.

I felt good and that was the best I've ever felt, said Hernandez, who is listed at 6-0. Getting over the bar was all that was on my mind.

The leap itself was impressive, but it wasn't until the results were announced that Shooting Stars coach Leon Wade was truly shocked.

I was watching some of my kids run on the other side of the track and I looked over at him with the zoom on my camera, Wade said. I thought, 'man this kid is way over the bar.' I didn't know the thing was at 7-0.

There was a chance Hernandez could have gone higher and perhaps even break the record, set at 7-2. However, that is where the term raw talent, comes into play.

I was over the bar a lot, but my feet hit the bar, Hernandez said about his attempt at 7-1. The end of my form is terrible so I need to work on my feet.

Hernandez has only been high jumping since his sophomore year and only came out to summer track three weeks ago, just in time to qualify for the regional meet.

His love is basketball, where he initially found out he had great leaping ability.

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eight grade year was the first time I dunked it, he said. It was at practice and this kid threw me up an alley-opp and I got it with both hands and slammed it.

Now that the possibilities are opening up in track and field, Hernandez is already aware of what he needs to improve on.

The front of my form is good, but it's the back that needs to get better, he said. I drag my legs and my butt. I need to follow my body.

Wade wants to help Hernandez improve, but he isn't in too much of a rush to do it, especially after seeking advice from fellow coaches.

A lot of times, if you go messing with them now, it will mess them up (before nationals), he said. On that 7-foot jump, he was up and over that bar. He's raw talent and you just take your time with him and work with him he'll do real well.

Now, Hernandez' goals and dreams have been ignited as he wants to strive for great feats. He hopes to jump a 7-4 on July 31 at the National Championships in Sacramento.

He enters the meet ranked first.

From there he hopes to continue to have a good basketball career, but now is set on excelling in the high jump.

Overall, Hernandez said his goal is to receive a scholarship.

I though it would be basketball and then I joined track my sophomore year, he said. I like basketball more, but I think I am better at track.

Wade believes all that and more is possible.

The kid is very talented and if he continues to work hard, and he is a hard worker, he can get himself a scholarship, Wade said. I think he's a Division-I kid and he can get a full ride... If he does well he has a good chance to go to UTEP.

And despite coming in third at the Region I-5A championships this past high school season, Wade believes Hernandez will break out his senior year.

After all, a 7-0 jump this past season would have won state.

He should get out to state and if he continues what he is doing, he could win state, Wade said. Once he gets (the form) cleaned up, he can probably get 7-4.

And that might just be the magic number if Hernandez can reach it and move past it, either in high school or college.

That's what I heard was required to jump in the Olympics, and that would be pretty sweet, he said. I think about it every day, that's all I think about now.

Aaron Bracamontes may be reached at abracamontes@elpasotimes.com; 546-6381.