Going the Extra Mile


Jamisen Halverson, Writer

Cross Country runners are a breed of their own—always going the extra mile.

For two of Central’s runners—Senior Eric Garcia and Junior Jose Quinones—their journey took them almost to the finish line…the State Meet.

Having made it through the Section and Regional Meets, this dynamic duo made their way to Semi-State on Fort Wayne’s IPFW campus three Saturdays in October. “Only 10 individuals make it after the top five teams advance at each of those meets,” explains Coach Bekah Shenk.

   Although Semi-State was the end of the road for these Cross members, Shenk notes how proud she is of their accomplishments leading up to this. “Jose placed fifth [at Regionals] with a time of 16:32—which makes him the second fastest runner in at least the past nine years at Elkhart Central!” Garcia ran 17:01 to finish 17th.

  Along that path, however, both walk away from their season with cherished memories. “Being the last City Champ meant a lot,” Quinones reflects, “but also making it to Semi-State with my best friend Eric Garcia was pretty awesome.”  The two have become more like brothers than just teammates. This is what helps Garcia to push on when he hits that wall. “The people who surrounded me and motivated me help me keep going,” admits Garcia. “I keep telling myself that everything I’ve done led to this moment,” he further explains. “It would be a waste if I stopped now.” Thus, despite the fact that his Cross career at Central ended at Semi-State, Garcia will forever rank among an elite group of runners.  Scoring 60 points—the second highest for the team—Garcia was All-Conference Honorable Mention. “He received the Blazer Award for his mental toughness and great attitude regardless of the circumstances,” Shenk boasts.

   Quinones, too, will be remembered for his accomplishments, scoring 98 points this season. “Jose was team captain, was 1st Team All-NIC, and was also the MVP of the team,” Shenk asserts. As important as team is to Quinones, however, his motivation to run a little faster and try a little harder comes from elsewhere. “I think of how hard my mom has worked and must remember that I’m [competing] for her.” As a junior, Quinones is still in the running for a State title next season. In the meantime, it’s off to the races of a similar sort—training for spring Track & Field.

It’s hard to imagine that a sport so popular today has been running strong for centuries—referred to sometimes in the past as  Hare and Hounds or The Paper Chase. Yet, like the sport itself, the endurance test is what keeps these competitors continually putting their best foot forward at all times.