In his first year as a professional athlete, former Binghamton track and field standout Jesse Garn has thrived. Garn captured first place (4:00.83) in the men’s mile at the Penn Relays in late April and narrowly defeated Andrew Wheating in the men’s 800-meter (1:49.31) at the Oregon Twilight this past Friday.
Prior to inking a contract with HOKA New Jersey New York Track Club last August, Garn competed in the 800-meter at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field trials. During his five years at BU, Garn earned All-American honors twice, including a fourth-place finish in the 800-meter at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
On top of his accolades on the track, Garn was also a member of the 2014 fall athletic department honor roll (3.3 GPA or above) and the 2014 America East (AE) fall academic honor roll while majoring in biochemistry at BU.
“I had tremendous success under [BU head] coach [Annette] Acuff at Binghamton … we keep in touch very often still,” Garn said. “She is still a very prominent figure in my life and played a huge influence on me for the five years I was at Binghamton.”
Instead of managing an academic workload, Garn now balances rigorous training with a part-time job at a physical therapy office. He attends practice in the morning, follows it up with a workout and a shower, and then goes straight to work. In addition to these new commitments, preparing for meets consists of an entirely different atmosphere for Garn.
“Training is a lot different than I was used to at Binghamton,” Garn said. “The intensity has certainly ramped up. Everybody I’m training with now has been an Olympic trials qualifier and multiple All-Americans.”
Although the competition undoubtedly changed from the collegiate to professional level, Garn continues to shine in the spotlight, especially when the stakes are high. Despite admitting to feeling some nerves before competing at Penn, Garn said he enjoyed the challenge that comes with the bigger stage.
“Right now, I’m a top-10 in the U.S. for the 800-meter and all that means is that there are still guys who are better than me and I really love the challenge of taking on other guys,” Garn said. “It’s still a humbling experience knowing that I’m getting good. I feel like I’m performing a lot better than I ever have.”
After his first-place finish at Penn in April, Garn headed to Oregon’s Hayward Field, the home of last summer’s Olympic trials and the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
“Hayward Field is probably my favorite venue to compete at the University of Oregon,” he said. “It has always been a great environment; [there are] tons of fans and they call it TrackTown USA. This place is just very special to me.”
Garn’s mentality is the same as when he competed for Binghamton. He said he always remains confident, no matter who he is facing off with, and despite any advantages a competitor may have. The biggest difference for Garn, compared to his college career, is simply having more opportunities.
In addition to his first-place finishes at the Penn Relays and Oregon Twilight, Garn took home a victory in the 1500-meter at the Sam Howell Invitational in early April, with a time of 3:47.25, and recorded a personal best of 1:45.96 at the Larry Ellis Invitational in the 800-meter a few weeks later.
In the upcoming weeks, Garn is set to travel to Atlanta, Georgia for another 800-meter race and then to Sacramento, California for the 2017 National Track and Field Championships on June 22.