As a sophomore, Brad Garron contributed plenty to the Central Suburban League South division and sectional track and field championships won by Evanston and helped the Wildkits tie for 2nd place at the Class 3A Illinois High School Association state finals, the program’s best finish since 1994.
But now Garron is poised to be the guy the Kits can build another state contender around, in a much bigger role.
Establishing himself as one of the top sprinters in the country in his age group — even if he doesn’t actually make the trip to the nationals — Garron scored a clean sweep with victories in the 100, 200 and 400-meter races Saturday and Sunday (July 11 and 12) in the 15-16 year-old age group at the USATF Region 7 Junior Olympic Championships held at lllinois Benedictine University in Lisle.
Garron and teammates Roland Amarteifio, Morgan Brown and Malachi Adams all qualified in multiple events for the USATF Nationals set for July 27-August 2 in Jacksonville, Fla. by earning top five finishes, along with triple jumper Jonathan Wilburn. Evanston’s runners competed as unattached entries.
With football commitments also intruding on his summer vacation, Garron indicated Sunday that he likely won’t be making the trek to Florida to challenge the nation’s best. But a case could also be made that the soft-spoken junior-to-be has nothing much left to prove after registering personal records in the 100 (11.36 seconds) and 400 (48.97) and taking top honors in the 200 in 22.69 in the two-day competition at Lisle.
His only disappointment was that he couldn’t match his PR in the open 200 of 21.83, instead “settling” for a first place finish by a margin of 22.45 to 22.69 over Chris Ferrell of Fort Wayne, Ind.
“I’m OK with how I did this weekend, but I can run better,” Garron said. “But I got a lot of confidence from these races. It helps to know just how close I was to that (meet) record in the 200 coming in (21.3). I think I’ve taken a big step this summer.
“One of the things I’ve learned is that I have to trust my training. I went out a little faster than usual in that 400 — and it worked.”
Garron fought off a severe challenge by Neuqua Valley’s Isaiah Robinson in the 400 and was well under his previous best time of 48.97 in Saturday’s showdown between two of Illinois’ best underclassmen.
“That kid made a move on Brad, and Brad had to ask himself ‘do I want to hurt?’ “ said Evanston coach Don Michelin. “And he decided to hurt and got himself a PR.
“Brad is a passive/aggressive guy who does things in a humble way and doesn’t go around boasting about his times. He just loves to compete. That Robinson kid is the real deal and Brad showed what a champion he is in that race, and those two will be dueling a lot in the future.
“Brad hasn’t had a season off since he started high school (also playing football and basketball) and right now I think he just needs some rest more than he needs a trip to Nationals. That 200 was a good example, he didn’t have the zip for it, and I’m quite sure the other races he ran had something to do with that. All I know is he’s going to be a main player for us in May (2016) and I think he’ll embrace that role. I think he wants that responsibility.”
Both Wilburn and Brown also competed in the 15-16 age group. Wilburn captured the triple jump title with a best effort of 12.47 meters — 40 feet, 11 inches — and Brown battled uneven performances but was able to record enough legal throws to place 4th in the shotput (44 feet, 3 inches) and 3rd in the discus.
In the 17-18 category, ETHS graduate Adams advanced after finishing 4th in the 200 (22.02) and 2nd in the 100 (11.17) as he prepares to continue his running career at Western Illinois University.
Amarteifio, who will return to Evanston for his senior season, added a 2nd in the 110 hurdles in a personal best 14.3 and ran 5th in the 400 hurdles in 56.93 in races that were held on Saturday.