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Athlete of the Week: Drew Garland

POSTED: April 24, 2012 12:33 a.m.

This has already been a very good year for Flowery Branch senior Drew Garland.

In the fall, he won the Region 8-AAAA cross country title and helped lead the Falcons cross country team to its first Class AAAA state championship.

Last week, he won both the 1600-meter (4:31.66) and 3200-meter (9:51.95) at the region track and field meet in Loganville, becoming Flowery Branch track and field and cross country coach Jimmy Sorrells’ first region champion in all three distance runs. For his efforts, Garland has been named The Times Athlete of the Week.

“Drew is one of those kids who came in as a freshman and I saw the talent there,” Sorrells said. “He’s turning out to be one of the fastest runners I’ve coached at Flowery Branch.”

Now Garland and his coach are looking to put the track and field program on the map the way they have already done with cross country.

For the senior, that means a top-eight, or even a top-five, finish at the Georgia Olympics in Jefferson.

“I’m hoping Drew can kind of break us out of that mode of breaking through in cross country but not breaking through in track,” Sorrells said. “I feel like Drew can definitely represent us well in Jefferson.”

Of course, Garland still has to get through sectionals first, but the senior is confident he’ll get back to state for the second consecutive season. Last year he went in the 3200 but finished outside the top eight as he recovered from sinus problems.

“I think I can easily get top eight,” Garland said. “The mile’s going to be pretty close, but at least it’s first in the day.”

He’ll also be running the two-mile that day, so he’s not expecting a personal record. He’s hoping to preserve his PR for state, something he wasn’t able to do last season.

It’s that determination, along with his leadership, that Sorrells has seen in him throughout his four years on both the track and cross country programs.

“Especially with cross country he was essential as a leader,” Sorrells said. “He’s more like a lead-by-example guy, and he’s done a great job at that.

“He’s an all-around quality individual, and he will be sorely missed, even more as a leader than as an athlete.”

The coach quickly added that Garland is also an outstanding athlete, one who has worked his way up through two years of middle school and four years of high school, excelling at academics and athletics, Sorrells said.

“The thing that makes Drew such a pleasure to be around is not athletically, but that as a person he’s just a pleasure to be around,” Sorrells said. “He’s put all the work in.”

And he doesn’t intend to stop working anytime soon. Garland has already been accepted at the University of Georgia and plans to walk on to the cross country team there.

First, he has a little more time left to put a memorable ending on an already outstanding season.

“I really hope he’s going to hit the pinnacle of his career these next weeks,” Sorrells said.

“It’d definitely be a great way to end my senior year in two seasons,” Garland said.


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