RAWLINS — Gary Eyre was once the pride of Rawlins High School — and in much respect, still is.
Eyre was a two-time All-State football player in 1951 and 1952, but if you know the name, it’s because of track.
From 1950-’52, Eyre was an All-State track and field selection, holding the state record in the 880-yard run and the mile. His records lasted for 14 years.
“I was state champion in both events for three straight years,” Eyre said as he reminisced on his glory days.
The memories didn’t stop there.
Eyre enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and began competing for the camp service track team in 1953 at Camp Pendleton, Cali.
In 1954, he was the Far East Champion in the mile, a record holder at the Asian Games in Japan and an All-Service champion in the mile. He added the West Coast Service Champion in the 880-yard run to his collection in 1955.
After his military career, he didn’t stop running.
Eyre attended the University of Utah where he was all-conference in 1957 and 1958 in the 880-yard run. He made an appearance in the NCAA finals in 1959.
“Track has really been a major part of my life,” he said. “It put me through school. I had the G.I. Bill, but I also had a fabulous scholarship at the University of Utah.”
All of this was reflected on in front of the new legs of Rawlins — freshman Sydney Thorvaldson.
“I’m honored to meet you,” Thorvaldson said to Eyre. “It’s just cool to see someone who’s been through it.”
It could only mean having the weight of being the best around on your shoulders.
In her first year of high school, Thorvaldson won the Wyoming High School Cross Country 3A State Championship and was named All-American after placing ninth at the Nike Cross Country Nationals in December.
Taking a break from competitive running to play for Lady Outlaws Basketball in the winter took nothing away from Thorvaldson’s running capabilities.
The distance prodigy took first in the 800-, 1600-, and 3200-meter runs, setting new class records in the mile and two-mile.
Eyre said seeing a young lady in prominence in athletics is much different now than it was during his days roaming the halls of RHS.
“It’s very nice to see young ladies being involved in all the aspects of athletics,” Eyre said.
Thorvaldson is faced with a tough challenge every race.
It’s not that opponents are always right on her heels – the problem is that they aren’t.
Her closest competition comes in the 800-meter run, but the further the races get, the further other runners fall behind her.
Running isn’t the most exhilarating thing – especially when you’re doing it alone. This led her to asking Eyre one question.
“How did you stay motivated to do everything that you did?” she asked.
Stumped at first, Eyre finally found his answer.
“The motivation at first was just being a participant,” he responded. “You can’t be a champion unless you’re a participant. And I loved my school; I loved my fellow athletes. And my personal motivation was to do the best I can conceivably do, and sometimes the best was pretty good.”
Thorvaldson adhered to the advice, as just a few days later she would become a champion in three events, and a class record holder in two.
Eyre’s running days are over; Thorvaldson’s are just getting started.