For most of Chris Garrick’s time at Marvin Ridge, he believed his future was on the soccer field.
But midway through his junior year in outdoor track, Garrick changed from an average high jumper to one of the best.
Garrick, who wasn’t consistently clearing 6-foot-2 at the beginning of his junior year, cleared 6-foot-8 three times in the last month of that year, capping his season with a 3A state championship.
“That whole season definitely surprised me, because at the time track wasn’t even my main sport or focus,” said Garrick, who played on the 2013 3A state champion Marvin Ridge soccer team and also played year-round club soccer. “To this day, I’m still not sure where that explosion in the high jump came from.”
Marvin Ridge track coach, Cameron Starr, watched the progress.
“Until late in his junior year, I still thought of him as more of a soccer player,” Starr said. “…But then when he hit 6-8 a few times and started to get some (college) attention, I think everything changed.”
Garrick came into his senior season with big-time goals. He wanted to defend his Union County, Southern Carolinas’ conference, 3A Midwest and 3A state titles and clear 7 feet.
The 18-year-old nearly did it at the 3A state indoor meet Feb. 14. He jumped 6-foot-11, shattering the state record and beating the field by 9 inches to win the state title.
A month later he finished sixth at the New Balance National indoor meet (6-foot-9.5) in New York City, earning All-American status.
“Even though he earned All-American, he didn’t finish as well as he wanted,” Starr said. “He got himself into a funk for the next couple weeks. It was tough coming off the high off setting a state record...”
“I was really disappointed that I didn’t hit 7 feet at nationals,” Garrick said. “...It was a tough time, but I knew I had to pick myself back up and finish my senior season strong.”
Garrick did just that.
He started April 10 with a victory at the Taco Bell Classic, at Sun Valley High in Columbia, where he jumped 6-foot-10. Starr says Garrick jumped so high, he probably would have cleared 7-foot-2.
Garrick went on a tear, winning four straight high jump titles, including the Union County championship, the Southern Carolinas’ conference title, the 3A Midwest Regional title and his second straight 3A state title – all in a span of 21 days.
Garrick also helped his Marvin Ridge team win its second 3A state title.
To maximize his contributions, Garrick competed in the triple jump, where he also had a final month to remember. He was runner-up at the Union County and SCC championships, won the 3A Midwest title and finished third at the state meet.
“My senior season had its ups and down, but if you would have told me before this ... all of the stuff I would accomplish, I would have never believed it,” Garrick said. “I don’t think I truly appreciate everything I did yet. Some of it really hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Garrick’s future will be at N.C. State, as he chose the Wolfpack track program over University of North Carolina and University of South Carolina.
Starr said, if Garrick continues to improve, he could have an immediate impact, becoming one of the top high jumpers in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“I think there’s a lot more in me, and I look forward to seeing just how good I can be in college,” Garrick said. “But I know it’s going to be a process of working my way up the ladder again.
“In high school, each season I’ve been able to improve my jump several inches or more each season. In college, it’s going to a quarter-inch here, a half-inch there. It’s going to take a different mindset.”
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at email@example.com.