Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

By Zach Spadt
Pine Bluffs Post 

Pine Bluffs track, cross country star to continue family legacy


Alex Kuhn/Northern Wyoming Daily News

Jorge Garcia, left, a graduating senior from Pine Bluffs, looks to continue to his running career into college.

Distance running wasn't Jorge Garcia's first choice.

But that didn't stop the Pine Bluffs High School Senior from leaving his mark on the school's cross country and track programs.

Jorge Garcia is the younger cousin of Alejandro Garcia, a former PBHS distance runner with his own legacy here in Pine. When Jorge began competing, Alejandro helped with his training, and it paid off.

PBHS track and field coach Dustin Lee said as a freshman, Jorge was keeping pace with the seniors during long-distance practice runs.

But he was just meeting expectations - he was, after all, Alejandro's little cousin.

Jorge said he began running long distances to get in shape for soccer.

"I come from a hispanic family, so we love soccer. That's what I grew up with. My dad played on a soccer team when he lived in Mexico," Jorge said.

Soccer doesn't enjoy the same popularity in rural Wyoming as it does in Mexico, so Jorge needed to find another sport.

Alejandro, who is four-years Jorge's senior, approached Jorge and suggested he giving distance running a try.

Lee introduced Alejandro to distance running, and he would go on to win state titles and set numerous school records, some Jorge would eventually break.

"That's how I got introduced to cross country. I ended up running that myself and trying two years in junior high. Afterward, I was like, 'You know, I might just stick to this.' I always had the thought of maybe playing soccer for (Cheyenne) Central, but the way I was running in junior high ... maybe I could do something great. After my cousin won state, I was like, 'I wanna see if I can be a state champ too.'"

Jorge said at first, he wasn't sure if distance running was for him. Completing a one-mile run for the first time was challenging.

With the help of Alejandro, Jorge grew as a distance runner. Alejandro said when Jorge first began, he started off slow but "blew up" by the time he began competing.

"I noticed that the first time I ran a mile it seem like it took forever. Now, when I get up to six or more miles, that's when it takes forever. ... It got to the point where I was asking myself if I really liked running or if I wanted to go back to soccer," Garcia said.

"Maybe I was meant to be a distance runner more than a soccer player."

Last weekend, Jorge helped lead the PBHS boys track team to a state title, winning the 3200m run and placing second and third in the 1600m and 800m runs, respectively.

Helping his team win it all was Jorge's priority from the start, but that's not surprising, Lee said.

"He's something special.

"He's really grown a lot, and matured. Not just physically, but mentally, competitively. He's a good model. He keeps a lot of these kids doing what they're supposed to do ... He's not hard-nosed all the time," Lee said, adding, "Jorge has just the right amount of leadership. I'm proud of him."

Jorge said if there's anything he can do to help his team win, he'll do it.

"When they (teammates) get on that track, they run their hearts out," Jorge said.

Before the state meet, Garcia had a prediction of sorts:

"If we can win state, we can say, 'Those miles we put in all year were worth it.'"

Jorge will go on to run at Gillette College, but wearing a different uniform will be surreal.

"It will be something to get used to. I ran indoor track for (Cheyenne) Central, so when I had to put on a different jersey, it didn't feel quite right. When I put on a new jersey it will be something different. I will always have that place for Pine," Jorge said.

Jorge plans to study Spanish education and someday coach varsity track. His coaches over the years have been his biggest inspiration and that's what he'll miss the most from his time as PBHS runner.

"They're sacrificing a lot with their families. They just love doing it; they're always doing it with smiling faces. That's why I want to be a coach. That's what I'll miss the most: The coaches and representing my school," Jorge said.

Alejandro said watching his younger cousin grow as an athlete has been special, but he is not surprised at Jorge's success.

"It was very enjoyable to be honest," Alejandro said. He added that watching Jorge break his records was also enjoyable, but something he expected.

"They're just goals we talked about," Alejandro said.

Alejandro also ran at Gillette College before transferring to Chadron State, where has has one year of school and running remaining.

"He'll enjoy it there - there's opportunities for him. It's perfect for him. It's what we've been training for.

"I'm really proud of him. I'm excited to see what he makes of himself," Alejandro said.

Lee said when Jorge began running, "a lot of" the things he did - his dedication, his leadership - he did because that's what Alejandro did.

"Now, he's doing it because it's the right thing to do, because he's Jorge."

As a freshman at Pine Bluffs, Jorge was known as "Alejandro's cousin." However, Alejandro said that changed over the last four years.

"That's switched now. Now when I'm introduced to people, I'm introduced as Jorge's cousin."


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