ALBUQUERQUE – Orange socks stretch up the left legs of the each of the Cimarron athletes competing at the Class 1A-2A high school state track & field championships.
It’s not some new-fangled means of enhancing performance.
It’s actually more of a reality check.
The orange socks represent the Rams’ solidarity behind lunch room cook Barbara Garcia, who found out earlier this year that she has an aggressive form of leukemia.
“There’s a whole different feel to us right now,” Cimarron coach Joe Giglia said Friday on the opening day of the meet. “It changes things a little bit. It’s a little bit of perspective.”
Garcia is the mother of Giglia’s son-in-law, he said, but it was the athletes’ desire to honor her fight.
“The kids went and got those, just to represent their fight for her and how much they’re competing for her,” he said. “It’s pretty cool. She’s in a real tough way right now. Our whole team dedicated their whole season to her and some other people in our community who are fighting cancer.”
It helped spur on the Rams, like Jacob Subratie, who ran a personal best 1:59.47 in the 800 to grab gold.
“Normally, we have all of our teammates behind us,” he said. “We run for our family, but she’s part of our family now. So we were running for her too. It’s so much easier to run harder when you have somebody to run for.”
Garcia is at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, so the team stopped in to see her, Giglia said.
“The whole team was waiting for her in an area called the healing garden,” he said. “The kids were there to give her some hugs and let her know how much they miss her. And how much they care about her and how much that she’s in their thoughts. It was pretty special. That’s what small communities are about, I think.”
It was a moving experience, said javelin thrower Tim Nystrom.
“It was pretty emotional,” he said. “It was rough seeing her like that. I think it gave us more inspiration to run.”
Although it was difficult to see her in the hospital, the athletes knew it helped her and them.
“It was really touching,” Subratie said. “A lot of us were pretty touched by it. It gave us more fuel to do what we have to do. We made her signs. She didn’t know we were coming so it surprised her. She cried. It was all really good. It mean a lot to us and it’s in all of our minds as we run these next couple of days.”
It’s all created even more unity within an already tight-knit team, Nystrom said.
“We’re already very close as a team,” he said. “That’s a really big dynamic, us coming together as a family. And this kind of brings us together because it gives us something to run for, not only as individuals but also as a team. And not only as a team but for this woman who we all know so well.”
In other results of note from area athletes, Desert Academy’s Taylor Bacon completed two-thirds of her distance sweep, winning the Class A 800 in 2:21.54 and the 3,200 in 12:25.28, while her teammate Zoe Castro took third in the 800 in 2:30.31. Cimarron’s Henry Sime cruised to the victory in the 3,200 in 10:29.32.