Beason battles adversity on and off field


Antonia Beason, freshman high jumper at CSU Bakersfield, practices on the track near the Icardo Center on Monday, Feb. 19.

Vincent Perez

Sports Editor

Winds up to 185 miles per hour. 64 billion dollars worth of damage. 134 fatalities. Families grieving. Your mother is by herself in Florida.

This is what Antonia Beason, 18, a freshman high-jumper at CSU Bakersfield, endured when she heard from Bakersfield that the aftermath of the destruction that Hurricane Irma caused in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and surrounding Caribbean countries from August 30, 2017 to September 13, 2017.

Fortunately, Beason’s mother, Desiree Genet, was well and alive but her childhood home in Land O’ Lakes, Florida was not.

“It was demolished,” said Beason. “Irma swept the pool top away. A tree fell on my room, so I had no carpet and holes everywhere.” Beason had moved herself to Bakersfield in August 2017.

Beason returned home in November 2017. “I didn’t have any furniture in there. All my stuff was packed downstairs.”

Living in Florida, she went through multiple hurricanes, and always had a bag ready to go. Beason didn’t second-guess Hurricane Irma because hurricane warnings happened so often in Florida.

“Then, it became a category 3, then 4, then 5,” said Beason. Then, she knew it was serious.

She has seen her share of testament but Beason does not use her pain as a crutch. She lost her father, Joseph Beason at the age of 12, and that event prepared her another loss later in life.

“I definitely knew how to grasp the fact that this is how it’s going to be from now on,” said Beason.

She recouped and joined track and field at Land O’ Lakes High School, excelling at high jump. She transitioned from a background of varsity in cheer, gymnastics and diving.

Beason finally found her passion in the high jump. All Beason wanted to do was make her parents proud of her.

“I’m ridiculously proud of her. Not many 18-year olds get on a plane by themselves and fly 3,000 miles across the country to move themselves into a university,” said Genet.

Unfortunately, Beason’s father would not get to see his daughter excel on the field. Joseph Beason, 62, died in Florida in 2011. That great loss in her life prepared her for another crucial death.

Beason’s best friend, “M,” whose identity she wanted to protect, committed suicide in 2017. She wanted to protect his family from any attention. Yet, she recommends seeking help for those with suicidal thoughts.

“Someone out there is willing to help. Even if you just don’t know. Your mom cares about you. Your family cares about you. You have someone out there caring for you,” said Beason.

Beason said anyone can get help that is struggling with mental and depression issues on the CSUB campus at the Student Health Services counseling.

“M” drove off a mountain in Land O’ Lakes that ended in his death last September. She said intoxication could have played a factor in his death.

“It was shocking. I saw him right before, two days before.” She said that he came to Las Vegas, Nevada to visit her at a cheer event.

Beason said that her depression crippled her at times. Then, she channeled her energy into athletics.

“Instead of sitting in my bed crying, I put that anger and sadness to my sports and excelled in them,” said Beason.

“One thing prepares you for another and this was definitely it,” said Beason. “You just got to keep going. They’re in a better place.” Her maturity today is an example of how early she had to mature.

Beason was 18 months old when her father received a kidney transplant, after a life of smoking and drinking alcohol. In April of 2003, when Beason was four, her father and mother divorced. In 2011, Joseph Beason suffered a fatal heart attack due to stress and a relapse with tobacco, said Beason.

A multi-sport athlete in high school, Beason dove for three years, finishing her junior year, after her second torn meniscus injury in her right leg.

The first time she tore her meniscus, she did so cheering in high school by slipping on tape at a cheer event. She said she tore her PCL, MCL, meniscus, had suffered cartilage damage and a strained ACL.

Beason was on crutches for 18 weeks. She sat out her sophomore and most of her junior year in high school. Her coaches told her to forgo surgery and have it after college. Her right leg remains another obstacle that Beason is looking to overcome.

One of Beason’s closest childhood friends and high school classmate, Mackenzie Benson, 18, said that Beason is a role model friend.

“If you could pick anybody to be your friend, it’d be her. She’s always there to listen.” Benson said about Beason who was a shoulder to lean on with relationship issues.

Beason said that they talk at least once a week now.

“I was sad [she left] but I was happy for her,” Benson said. Benson attends Pasco-Hernando State College in New Port Richey, Florida.

Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Marcia Mansur-Wentworth declined to be interviewed in recent weeks about Beason.

Associate head coach Jonathan Matsumura, who coaches Beason and other CSUB high jumpers, could not be reached for comment either.

Beason chose CSUB over other universities she visited because she liked the size of the campus and the tight-knit community. Beason said at first she wanted to stay close to home, but changed her mind.

“I wanted to go out and venture,” said Beason. “You live, you’re born and you’re there. You do what you need to do,” she said.

She said with a smile, “Everything happens for a reason. That’s what I like to believe.”

Genet said Beason left her a note to remind her that she loves her, after she flew to the west coast for CSUB. “The airport was horrible [for me], but she knew this is what she needed to do,” said Genet.

“This is her path and I couldn’t stop her.”

Antonia Beason, freshman high jumper at CSU Bakersfield, practices on the track near the Icardo Center on Monday, Feb. 19.
All photos by Simer Khurana/ The Runner