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Laying gloves on them

November 24, 2004

Jeff Tully

Bellarmine-Jefferson High's Gerad Herkey and Jeff Pang received a

surprise Monday.

Before the two senior boys' cross-country runners headed out for a

training session, they were approached in the gym by Bell-Jeff

Athletic Director Mike Morgan. Morgan presented Herkey and Pang each

with a pair of gloves.

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However, they were not any run-of-the-mill gloves. Much to the

runners' amazement, the accessories were used by the last Guards'

team that competed in the CIF-State Cross-Country Championships 13

years ago.

And the presentation was significant, as well, because Morgan was

a member of the Bell-Jeff team that finished second in state in 1991.

The gloves will accompany Herkey and Pang Saturday when they

compete in the State Meet on the same Woodward Park course in Fresno.

The pair comprise the only area representatives to earn berths

into the competition.

"That is pretty cool," Herkey said after accepting the gloves. "I

didn't expect anything like this, but it is a nice surprise."

Both runners immediately put the gloves on for a fit.

"I'll wear them in the race if I need to," Pang said. "Maybe they

will give us some luck."

The story of the gloves is a tale that spans more than a decade.

In 1991, the Guards had a team packed with talent, as it earned a

trip to the State Meet.

However, the evening before the race, individuals with the team

were trying to prevent a possible problem in the competition.

"We were sitting at dinner the night before, and we figured it was

probably going to be cold the morning for the race," said Bell-Jeff

Coach Jim Couch, who still heads the program. "So, [one of the

parents] went out and bought gloves for all the runners, so their

hands wouldn't get cold."

The parent headed to a local Fresno hardware store and purchased

pares of inexpensive, stretchable and light work gloves. The parent

didn't buy expensive gloves just in case the runners didn't like them

and decided to chuck them aside during the race.

With their hands warm and toasty, the Guards went out and finished

second in state.

Since the race, the gloves were put away and have been stored by

John Flynn.

Although the gloves were originally meant to be thrown away if

they weren't needed, Herkey said he has no intention of discarding

his pair if they don't suit them during the race.

"No way am I throwing these away," he said. "If I don't like how

they feel, I will just hold on to them for the whole race. I couldn't

throw these gloves away."

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