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Garber second in a photo finish

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - BCLUW senior Jack Garber makes it over the final hurdle in the Class 1A 400-meter hurdle race on day two of the Iowa Co-Ed State Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium on Friday. Garber took second in the race and set a new Comet school record along the way.

DES MOINES — BCLUW senior Jack Garber is one of the best 110-meter high hurdle runners in the state, but by his own admission he’s not a big fan of the 400 hurdles.

Those feelings might have changed after he took second in the Class 1A 400 hurdles on day two of the Iowa Co-Ed Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium on Friday with a personal-best time and new Comet school record of 53.6 seconds, but he also might still dislike the race because he was second by six thousandths of a second.

Lynnville-Sully’s Tyson Vander Linden, the defending 400 hurdle champion and Garber’s future roommate in the Iowa State University track program next year, just edged Garber with a 53.6 of his own to win a second-straight title.

“That was a crazy race,” Garber said. “Going along the backstretch and around the corner I was hitting half of them with my wrong leg, which means I was going so fast I was cutting off a step between the hurdles. I didn’t think it was going to be a good race, but then I rounded the corner and I didn’t see anyone on either side of me.

“I did take a little look back, and I know I shouldn’t have, but I was seeing where [Vander Linden] was at, and then I get over the last hurdle — which I hit with my wrong leg again because I was going faster than I’m used to — and I didn’t even see him until we were crossing the finish line. He must have had an incredible last little kick.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

Vander Linden might have gotten Garber in the end, but the two-time 1A 400 hurdle champ said his future Cyclone teammate made him sweat.

“I was definitely worried, I was worried since the third hurdle,” Vander Linden said.

In both the second and final heat there were runners eliminated due to false starts, but Garber said the sound of the second gun at the start didn’t psych him out too much.

“I am usually pretty good coming out of the blocks so I don’t try to time it or anything since I get a good push off,” he said. “I remember going over the first three or four hurdles and the kid in lane eight, he was way out there so I used him for the first half until he unfortunately fell. Going around the last 150, I just kept my shoulders and booked it as hard as I could. I can’t complain about a second place with a 53.6.”

Garber now owns four BCLUW school records, adding the 400 hurdles to his top marks in the 110 high hurdles, the shuttle hurdle relay and sprint medley relay. As for who he lost to, Garber said if he has to take second in a race he doesn’t mind it being against a runner the quality of Vander Linden.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

“He’s got multiple state championships, he won one yesterday too, and he’s a hell of an athlete and a good friend who will do good things next year at Iowa State,” he said.

Earlier in the day Garber took care of business in his prefered race, the 110 high hurdles, by qualifying for today’s finals with the top time of 14.63. While he was happy he was the top qualifier, Garber still has his sights set on breaking the 1A state record of 14.41 seconds, which has stood since 1997.

“I really wanted to just get that record and get it out of the way,” he said. “It was good conditions, but I hit so many of them. I was hitting them with my knee, I was hitting them with my ankle, now I know I need to focus up a little more because it’s not going to be that easy, I know it’s not going to be that easy.”

Garber was the top finisher for the BCLUW boys or girls on the day, but there were still plenty of Comets in action.

Neifer Ralston also ran in the 400 hurdles, where he took 13th in his first individual state race with a 57.44. The boys distance medley team of Ben Paper, Jessie Moore, Ralston and Ruben Montoya placed 23rd in 3:51.73 and the 4×100 team of Paper, Carson Hoffman, Joe Mason and Coby Willett was 22nd with a 46.56.

Lizzie Garber, Jack’s brother, just missed out on a finals qualification of her own in the 100 hurdles by finishing in 10th in a time of 16.42. Senior Olivia Hughes came in 24th with a 22.88, but she had a good race going until taking a tumble over one of her middle hurdles, ending her chance at a finals qualification. Both girls will run in the 1A shuttle hurdle final today, with the Comets owning the top seed.

Kenna Paxson finished 20th in the girls 400 hurdles with a 1:12.21 and the 4×100 team of Kaylee Grant, Kiersten Kruse, Lizzie Garber and Hughes disqualified.