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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended April 09, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 14Apr00

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 runners.

"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 events."

Coaches at the University of Oregon have offered Garlick a scholarship, and say the young hurdler could one day run in the Olympics.

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."


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