50 Years in the Making: Valentine High Jumper Makes State 5/10/13
CBS7 Sports Reporter
200 miles southwest from Odessa, through the Davis Mountains and between the ranch-land sits of the most remote school systems in the state.
"We are the smallest school in Texas," said Valentine ISD athletic director Lonnie Flippen. "We have eight kids in high school."
Valentine, Texas, home of the Pirates, is a town that once thrived under the United States Railroad system and a town that now seems to be fading away. Latham Garnsey plans to change that.
"Before I leave this school, it's going to be, it's going to be well known," said the sophomore high-jumper.
Come Friday, Garnsey will become the first Valentine athlete to compete at the UIL Track and Field State Championships since 1960 and the first ever in the high jump.
"It's pretty cool," Garnsey said with a smile. "I didn't know that when I joined, but now that I do, it kind of surprised me."
You could say Garnsey's success in high jumping is from pure athleticism.
"During basketball season, he's dunking the ball," Flippen chuckled.
You could also say it's from spending time in front of the computer learning about the sport from the pros.
"Yeah I've watched a lot of videos and stuff," Garnsey said.
But I think Latham Garnsey's biggest advantage headed into this weekend is his interest for science and how he applies it to the high jump.
"Your jump foot is only on the ground for like .31 seconds," he said. "It exerts about 1500 pounds of force down just to get up over the bar."
There's definitely not much science that goes into Valentine's practice gear.
"I'm used to running on rock and dirt," Garnsey said, "but, I don't mind it I guess. It's alright."
"The fact that the facilities are limited doesn't limit how much a kid can do if his heart is in what he's trying to do," Flippen said.
For Garnsey, he's just ready to get out there and represent his school's historic return to Austin.
"I'm definitely going to surprise a lot of people over there, just…whether it's good or bad is yet to be determined," he said.
In previous years the Pirates matched up with 1-A schools, but now Garnsey will be one of the first high-jumpers to compete in a division set aside just for kids from schools the size of Valentine.
So whoever goes home a champion will set the bar for what future competitors will be shooting for.