Evanston’s Brad Garron overcame a slow start to reach track and field nationals

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Evanston boys track and field coach Don Michelin said Brad Garron should have won the 100-meter race at the Region VII meet two weeks ago.

But because of a slow start out of the blocks, Garron, who is 15 and competing in the 15-16 age group, finished fourth in 11.41 seconds in Huntington, Indiana. The time still was good enough to advance to this week’s USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships in Humble, Texas.

Michelin said Garron’s pure speed only will get him so far in the sport. The coach said the sprinter needs to become a better technician, and that begins with his start.

“He hesitates too much with his first step,” Michelin said. “But he has tremendous acceleration.”

Garron, a sophomore-to-be at Evanston, admitted he’s not very strong at starting races, especially the 100. Part of that is due to his unfamiliarity with starting blocks, which he didn’t use before competing in high school.

“When I’m driving out, I’m really off balance,” Garron said. “It’s the weakest part of my running.”

Michelin said he wants Garron to switch how his front and back legs are positioned on the starting blocks. Right now, Garron has his left leg forward, but Michelin said that the right leg should be up front.

“I would prefer the power leg to be up front, but he likes it in the back,” Michelin said. “It’s something I need to convince him to do.

“If he does that, his first step would be out farther and put him in front of the competition.”

Michelin pointed to Mike McFarland, a Parker sprinter who was the state champion in the 100- and 220-yard races during the 1972-73 academic year, as a sprinter who used his power leg up front.

“He had such a tremendous, elongated start,” Michelin said of McFarland.

So far, the starts haven’t hurt Garron, who also qualified for the national meet in the 200 (22.85) and 400 (52.76). He had not run those races before high school.

Three other Evanston runners — rising senior Reggie Murphy, rising senior Malachi Adams and rising junior Babajide Bamgbose — also qualified for the national meet by finishing in the top five in their respective events at the region meet, but they elected not to go to Texas for nationals.

Bamgbose took second in the 110-meter hurdles in a personal-best 16.36. Murphy and Adams both advanced in the 100 meters, with Murphy placing third in 10.97 and Adams running a career-best 11.12 to finish fifth.

In the spring, Garron ran on Evanston’s 4×100- and 4×200-meter relays that competed at the Class 3A state meet in Charleston.

But Michelin, who’s coached numerous standout sprinters, knows Garron can’t rely on raw talent alone if he wants to be one of the best in the state.

“At the next level, you need every advantage you can get,” Michelin said.

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