Garrett Gerling: Getting Over Hurdles on and off the Track - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Walla Walla's Garrett Gerling: Getting Over Hurdles on and off the Track

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WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- He's the best the state of Washington has to offer in 2010. Walla Walla's Garrett Gerling has the fastest hurdles times this year.

But, it turns out those hurdles are just a small part of what he has had to get over in his life.

It takes a leap of faith to rise over an obstacle. In the summer of 2006, soon to be freshman Garrett Gerling faced the biggest obstacle in his young life. He found out he had Long QT Syndrome, a heart condition caused by too much adrenaline that creates an irregular heartbeat. It is a condition that could have ended his life.

"It was a depressing thing," said Gerling. "As far as not doing track, I really wanted to be cautious. I loved it so much. I didn't want to give it up."

He longed to be on the track but first needed to clear his first hurdle, a clean bill of health. He received just that by the time sophomore year came around. He took medication so he could run without fear of dying.

"I was scared to kind of push myself so hard when I first came out for track," said Gerling. "But this winter, I really did some hard workouts, and I kind of pushed myself to see what my range was. I went all out."

Now, the 18-year-old senior at Wa-Hi runs with power and purpose, setting the fastest times in the state this season in the 110 and 300 meter hurdles.

"He wouldn't be where he is today [without facing Long QT Syndrome], because I think it's given him direction and incentive in track, as well as in what he wants to do in life," said Gerling's father and Walla Walla Assistant Coach Steve Gerling.

He plans to go into pre-med to help others like himself live a long and happy life. For now, he wants to leap his way to a state title.

"Winning state would be like a fulfillment of my dream," said Gerling.

"To go through what he's gone through and comeback and be this successful: I mean what a neat way to go out with that kid on top," said Walla Walla Head Track Coach Eric Hisaw.