BY COACH LONNIE FLIPPEN
Latham Garnsey, a senior at Valentine High School made his third trip to Austin this past week and competed in the high jump competition. He returned home with a gold medal and a state record for the Class A conference with a jump of 6â€™6â€, his personal best.
His gold medal was the first to ever have been won by a Valentine athlete in the history of the school. Garnsey did not start high jumping until his sophomore year in high school and earned his way to state that year and finished tied for sixth place.
He returned to Austin his junior year and finished in third place even though he was injured just prior to the regional meet. Garnsey began this year competing at Fort Stockton where he jumped 6â€™5â€, his personal best up to that time.
He participated in six other meets and finished no lower than second place in any of those meets and won several of them. He finished in second place at the regional competition in San Angelo to earn his third trip to the state meet.
“I guess the extra adrenaline being a senior, being the last time Iâ€™m going to jump, it just kicked in,â€ Garnsey told the Odessa American after he was presented with his gold medal inside Mike A. Myers Stadium.
“(Missing at 6-2) kind of scared me and almost gave me a heart attack. And I just figured that I might as well just jump. I cleared my mind and jumped.â€
Latham would like to express his gratitude and thanks to Coach Gibson and his staff at CCAISD for allowing him to use their fine facilities throughout the track season. Without those facilities, his accomplishment might not have been achieved.
“Iâ€™ve never, in 36 years seen an athlete with his work ethic,â€ said Mr. Flippen, “For him to have the desire, itâ€™s all him. Heâ€™s just a competitor and a winner and today he proved it. This is proof positive that itâ€™s the athlete and the attitude and the want-to and the goal-setting. Itâ€™s not the facilities that make the athlete.â€
While Latham may not quite yet fully understand the magnitude of what he accomplished, he remains humble.
“I donâ€™t think about it as being the only one, I think about it sort of it being a motivation. I really hope the school stays open after my class is gone. So I just want it to be motivation for anyone else who wants to do great things,â€ Garnsey said, adding that he plans to go to college but undecided on whether heâ€™ll continue his athletic career. “Thatâ€™s pretty much what got me over the 6-6 knowing Iâ€™m probably never going to jump in competition again.â€