This is one in a series of profiles on Garden City High School seniors who lost their spring sports season at the end of their final year at GCHS.
BUFFS ROUNDUP: Monday, April 13, 2020
TRACK & FIELD
Buffs’ senior had sights on earning top finish at state meet in 2020
In a typical state high school championship track and field meet at Wichita State’s Cessna Stadium, it would be relatively easy to see who placed first through eighth in a single running event.
Unless, of course, there was a need for a photo finish to determine which runner crossed the finish line first.
But the 2019 track meet was not the usual state track meet, with weather delays forcing a first-ever Sunday finish and running events conducted in two heats of eight runners, and then sorted by times to award the top eight finishers with medals.
That’s why it took a little extra time for Garden City High School then junior Jeremy Garcia to figure out that by the narrowest of margins, .008 of a second, did he place ninth and just miss out on the eighth and final medal awarded.
“It was really disappointing because it was the fastest time I had all year,” Garcia said in a recent interview while trying to adjust to the stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 outbreak that resulted in the cancellation of in-building classes and the entire spring sports schedule. “It’s been sad and shocking because it’s something that I didn’t expect. Before spring break, everything seemed normal and we were getting ready to do time trials after the break.”
Garcia doesn’t remember exactly where he was or what he was doing when he learned of the cancellation of the spring track schedule and also about the school being closed to classes, leaving him and the more than 2,000 GCHS students to finish their semester with online learning classes.
“There were a lot of posts online, but when I saw that KSHSAA (Kansas State High School Activities Association) had canceled the final two days of state basketball, I knew that our spring season was in jeopardy,” Garcia said. “I thought it might happen, but I was still keeping my hopes up.”
But as everyone knows, there was no going back to the GCHS campus for classes, nor spring sports practices and meets.
To finish out his senior year, Garcia is taking five classes in preparation for graduation and then hopes to move on to the college level, where he has sights set on continuing his track career.
“The online classes are actually pretty easy,” Garcia said. “There are some classes that have daily check-in, but the bigger ones seem to be a little easier than being in the classroom at school. It’s not ideal, but it’s actually working better than I thought it would. The teachers have been great.”
A year older, stronger, and quicker, Garcia had planned on seeing his hard work in the off-season payoff in big dividends in his senior year.
“I was looking forward to the 400 and getting my times in the lower 50 and perhaps even getting into the 49s,” Garcia said. “I had been working on my starts in the 200 to lower my time there (23.55 was his best mark) and hoping to get into the 22’s with a chance to medal at state in that event, too.”
Another potential option for his final prep season was running the 800-meters, and he was looking forward to being part of the Buffaloes’ 4×800 relay team that has usually ran well at state.
“The preseason workouts had been going really well,” Garcia said. “We had been getting great coaching on the sprints and conditioning was really good. The time trials were just the next thing to look forward to.”
In looking at his junior year, Garcia said he was able to analyze the 400 meters by breaking it into four, 100-meter dashes, in a way that would help his plan for improving his time.
“My best part was the first 100 meters because I’d go all out,” Garcia said in his self-assessment. “Then, I went down in the second 100 on the back at 200-meters. They tell you to force your arms to move and start up again, start a new race and just survive to the finish. That’s what I was working on most.”
Aside from doing his school work, Garcia is finding new ways to stay in physical conditioning for his future running. He also is working part-time at Sam’s Club and is spending more time at home with his family.
“It’s sad not seeing my teammates, seeing my classmates, my coaches and teachers,” Garcia said. “I still message them and we do FaceTime and Skype. It’s really the only thing to do to stay in touch with them.”
Certainly, it wasn’t the ending to his high school career that Garcia envisioned, but he hopes to parlay his future chances by continuing to contact college coaches and perhaps walk-on at a school and earn his way into a college scholarship.
“This feels like our usual life has just stopped,” he said. “I know it’s for the better and for the health of everybody, but it has been really strange, really difficult.”
At the end of the day, Garcia said he hopes everyone remains safe and that this will pass in the near future.
“I want to run somewhere, but I’m also not sure what I want to study,” Garcia indicated. “I know something good will happen. I just know it will.”