Summarized by Leena Booth
An LDS Student's Journey From Drugs To Olympics
Salt Lake Tribune 4Apr00 P2
By Gordon Monson: Salt Lake Tribune
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Eighteen-year-old Jake Garlick is the
personification of a bad teen novel-the depths, the heights, the
stupidity, the awakening and the unlikely outcome.
"It's amazing," he says. "A few years ago, I had no clue where my
life was taking me. I got into some trouble, and I was stuck. Once
you're into that, it seems like there's no way out. It just keeps
going and going. It messes up your family and your life. But now I
know where I'm going, and that feels good." Now he is a track
sensation-possibly with chances for national and world championships
and maybe even a shot at the Olympic Games.
Garlick was a classic example of a good kid from a religious family
gone bad. The he started in elementary school, where he picked on
other kids, and carried on into middle school, where he got into
smoking cigarettes and marijuana, and, next, found himself drinking,
fighting, vandalizing, and hanging with other teen-agers who
discovered some awkward form of kinship in negative expression.
After his ninth-grade year, though, Garlick took a closer look at
those friends and see them as they really were."I had conversations
with them about what they wanted to do with their lives," he says.
"They didn't care if they ended up homeless or as drug dealers or
bums. I looked at their older brothers, and how they were turning
out, and I didn't want that. They were dropping out of school,
falling off. I just started to see how it was."
In his 10th-grade year at West Jordan High School, Garlick was asked
to go out for cross country. From there, he began running track, and,
to almost everyone's surprise, he started blowing away seasoned
"That felt good," Garlick says. "I finally found something I was good
at." As a sophomore, Garlick took second in the state in the
300-meter hurdles, and second as a part of a relay team. Junior year
he was the top high school hurdler in Utah, having run a 14.20 time
in the 110-meter hurdles, and finishing second in the 300 meters. His
West Jordan relay team broke a state record.
During the summer, Garlick progressed further, following a rigorous
training schedule and competing in national events. He finished
fourth in the 400-meter hurdles at a meet in Nebraska, and eighth in
the 110 meters.
This season, the hurdler continues to progress, having run an
adjusted time of 14.02 in the 110 meters at an event at East High
School on Friday. His goals are speeding up, too.
"I want to go to the Junior Nationals this summer, and to the Junior
Worlds," he says. "I want to break a lot of state records in all the
Coaches at the University of Oregon have offered Garlick a
scholarship, and say the young hurdler could one day run in the
First, he wants to break all those prep records and compete in a few
big junior meets, then go on a mission, then get his college
education and build his track career.
"I'm amazed at what has happened," Garlick says. "But it feels good.
Everybody seems happy about it. I just want to stay down to earth,
remember what's really important, and keep in mind how lucky I am to
be doing this. I'm lucky to know where I am going. That other stuff
in my past isn't the good life. This is."