CHARACTER COUNTS NOMINATIONS

Gilbert senior Javier Garcia gives back with his passion for running

Nov 16, 2021, 5:09 AM
Javier Garcia (Photo Courtesy/Britni Garcia)...
Javier Garcia (Photo Courtesy/Britni Garcia)
(Photo Courtesy/Britni Garcia)

While Gilbert High School senior Javier Garcia is navigating through the journey of his final year of high school, two things have always remained consistent: academics and running.

With Garcia leading as a senior, Gilbert’s cross country team went on to win the DII State Cross Country Championship, the first in the school’s history.

“It was a really crazy feeling. We were working really hard throughout the season,” Garcia said. “We knew we had something coming, and we just wanted to show everyone that we could be contenders too. I feel like a lot of people were counting us out, we were like the underdogs.”

His status as a veteran of the team does not end on the course.

As a senior, Garcia said he recognized that he wanted to help out his younger teammates in every capacity. He stresses it doesn’t have to be running related — he talks to his teammates about the importance of academics as Garcia himself goes through the college application process.

Giving back doesn’t just stop there for Garcia. He serves as a volunteer coach for younger runners at Greenfield Junior High. He helps young runners train and sets workout plans for them.

His second year doing it, Garcia said he fell in with coaching and watching the kids progress as runners. Some have even gone on to compete against Garcia for rival high schools.

Developing his own love for running has been a process.

“Honestly, I didn’t really like running at first,” he said. “My mom kinda got me into running. She would sign me and my dad up for local 5K’s whenever. … Freshman year I wanted to do cross country and once I did that, I liked it and wanted to keep going.”

Keep going is exactly what Garcia has done, as his personal record time has dropped significantly since his freshman year at Gilbert.

In his first year with the cross country team, his best 5K time was 18:10, nothing to scoff at.

Now as a senior, Garcia’s best is 15:37. His sights are set on getting his time as close to the 15-minute mark as possible.

The runner at Gilbert has helped take the cross country and track teams to new heights, all while maintaining a 4.2 GPA taking International Baccalaureate (IB) classes.

“I’ve always strived to try and push myself and take hard classes. It’s not always easy but I’ve definitely learned them,” Garcia said. “I’ve had struggles taking these IB classes but I’ve been fortunate enough to have such a great team around me with my teachers being really supportive.”

Weighing his options for the future, Garcia said he’s had college coaches reach out to him from smaller schools in Arizona, as well as others out of the state. He plans to major in Business in college, as the idea of entrepreneurship has always interested him.

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