In the downtime between races at a track and field meet, many high school runners listen to music or browse social-networking sites on their phones.
For Darian Garner, a Spring Valley senior and this week’s Journal News Rockland Scholar-Athlete of the Week, any spare moment she gets is valuable in tackling the course load of her four advanced-placement classes.
“In between races, I have my textbooks and my study cards with a highlighter and a pen out,” Garner said. “It can get a little distracting but I know my priorities.”
The aspiring chemical engineer has applied to Harvard, Northeastern and Penn and has a clear career goal in mind.
“A big topic of the 2012 presidential debates was making the United States energy independent,” Garner said. “It would be amazing if I was one of the people on a team that made the U.S. energy independent.”
After a junior season in which she was an all-league track and field selection, Garner has been saddled with all the duties that come with being a team leader.
“To me, (Garner) is one of the coaches on the team,” Spring Valley track and field coach Andrew Delva said. “We have two coaches in the winter, so it’s hard to get to both the guys and the girls. Usually I have her running the warm-up while I’m working with someone else.”
Garner’s work with her teammates doesn’t stop after stretching; she makes it a point to be vocal during her team’s grueling workouts.
“She’s very good at motivating us when we want to stop,” Spring Valley junior Dora Copeland said. “When we want to stop, she tells us to keep pushing. We all view her as a good team leader.”
The Tigers’ first meet is Sunday and Garner will participate in the 55-meter and 300-meter dashes in addition the being the second leg on the 4×200 relay.
“I enjoy the 4×2 relay the most because of the teamwork aspect of the event,” Garner said. “In track, it’s individual races mostly. I like when there are people to work with.”
Garner, her class’ valedictorian with a 99.7 cumulative average, has been a Spring Valley Principal’s List recipient all four years for maintaining an average of 94.5 or greater. She has tutored her peers in algebra, chemistry and trigonometry.
Last summer, Garner volunteered with People to People’s “Back to School with Dignity” program and distributed school supplies to at-risk youths from low-income families.
“One little girl was so happy to get a book bag with school supplies,” Garner said. “I don’t do community service to put it on my resume, I really do enjoy it.”