Brad Garron added to his already impressive track resume with an All-American performance Sunday at the United States of America Track and Field Junior Nationals held at California State University in Sacramento.
A senior-to-be at Evanston Township High School, Garron raced to a 4th place finish in the 400-meter dash in the 17-18 year-old division of the USATF event that matched some of the top sprinters in the country against each other.
Three runners broke 48 seconds in the race, leaving Garron 4th in a quick 48.47 seconds. Earlier in the week he turned in a 48.04 effort in the semifinals in a race where he is also the current school record holder at ETHS.
For good measure, he placed 10th in the open 200 meters in 21.86, although he was eliminated in the semifinals in that event. Garron also competed in the 400-meter and 1600-meter relays for the TNT Track and Field Academy club team, helping them to an 8th place national finish in the shorter race.
Thousands of athletes competing in the age-group nationals had to deal with 100-degree temperatures throughout the week in California, but Garron said he had no trouble adjusting to the less-than-ideal conditions.
“The heat was just something you get used to,” he said. “It’s honestly better for runners and, because it’s such a dry heat, it doesn’t draw the energy out of your body as much.
“It was a fantastic week for me overall. It’s hard to get any PRs (personal records) when you only have 5 weeks of training, but now I have no doubts that the 400 is my best event — even though it does hurt a lot. I did have to change my game plan a little today in the 400 and go out faster in that first 200. And honestly I wasn’t disappointed with my time in the 200, either. We ran into a slight headwind or I might have gotten a PR there.”
Garron joined the TNT club, which is based in Palatine, this summer when former University of Illinois standout Brandon Stryganek approached him. “He came to me and asked if I wanted to try running with them because he wanted to get all of the top guys 15-18 on the team, and it sounded great, so I said yes,” said the ETHS senior. “A lot of what they do is science-based and I learned a lotta stuff about my body.”
“I think Brad is a potential state champion in both the 400 and 200 for us next spring,” added Evanston head coach Don Michelin. “A guy as talented as Brad is can definitely put us in the (team) trophy hunt. I reminded him before he left for Nationals that he was representing the Orange and Blue and he really did a great job.”
Also competing at the Junior Nationals was Evanston junior Jonathan Wilburn, who was eliminated in the triple jump preliminaries with a best effort of 44 feet, 4 inches.
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.