LAWTON, Iowa – Garrett Dekker finally gave into his coach’s pleas and came out for track his senior season.
The fact that he was running at all was impressive.
The Lawton-Bronson senior had a New Year’s Eve he will never forget because it left him with a couple of scars and the realization of how much worse it could have been.
“Being the teenage man that I am I don’t always think about what I am doing and I went to stop somebody from walking out the door with some liquor,” said Dekker, who was working at a convenience store. “He tried to pull away and I grabbed him and he grabbed me and we ended up outside. Next thing you know he hits me on the head with the bottle, breaks the bottle and stabs me.”
Dekker was stabbed in the left forearm with the broken end of the bottle and was bleeding from his head where the bottle struck him near his hairline.
“I looked down and I could see everything down to the bone,” he said. “I could see the muscle tissue, I could see everything pretty much.
“My head was bleeding a lot worse than my arm was at the time. They stapled my head and it was fine, but my arm, I was in the ER for seven hours before they could get it to stop.”
Dekker just reacted during the situation, but hindsight has given him a different perspective.
“A lot of guys that I know that work at convenient stores that is the most exciting thing they can think to do,” he said. “I thought of myself as the kind of macho guy to do that. Now I really feel I should have just let it go because it wasn’t worth it and now I have the scar to remind me.”
Dekker was sent home later that night with his arm in a sling, something for the pain, and instructions to avoid physical activity for a couple of months. The person who attacked Dekker was recently sentenced on robbery charges, but Dekker is still feeling the effects.
“I still have pain now let alone three weeks after it happened,” he said. “I did the best I could to wrap it up and keep it covered, but I knew there was going to be pain to deal with. The arm was a constant source of pain.”
Dekker didn’t miss any school – returning with his arm in a sling for a week and a half -- and had to listen to more than a few lectures about his actions from family and friends.
Being the teenager he is, Dekker was back on the wrestling mat finishing out his senior season in a matter of a couple of weeks before deciding that he would finally give track a try his final spring season.
“He had been trying for three years and I finally decided that if I am going to do everything my senior year I may as well please him and try it,” Dekker said.
Once he got on the track he showed his speed and has helped the Eagles qualify in both the 4x100 and sprint medley relays that will run at the Iowa State Track and Field Championships beginning Thursday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
The quartet of Max Fluent, Dekker, Jacob Roder and Cade Pedersen have broken the school record in the sprint medley twice in recent weeks, including at the state qualifying meet last Thursday where they ran a 1:38.07.
“It is crazy because when I came out I started out just being a thrower throwing the shot put,” Dekker said. “We went to one of our indoor meets (and head coach Jesse Pedersen) decided to put me in one of our relay events and the next thing you know he wanted to keep seeing me in relays. I happened to be one of the fastest guys there and it is really cool we were able to put together a couple of relays.
Dekker, who will attend Simpson in the fall and study exercise science and is debating whether to join the football team, runs the second 100 of the sprint medley and is the third leg of the 4x100.
Now Dekker will get a chance to run on the Blue Oval. It is something most athletes work their entire high school careers for, but for Dekker his chance came only came after overcoming something no one would want to have to deal with.
“He is a tough cookie and he fights through adversity,” Pedersen said. “It doesn’t surprise me one bit to see him bounce back.”