The running man: Brandon Garnica

BYU men’s cross country and track and field star Brandon Garnicais is familiar with what it takes to go the distance. Quite literally.

Through years of training and dedication, along with support from those around him, Brandon is on a path to achieve greatness, whether that’s with or without a pair of running shoes.

Brandon, a senior out of Springville, Utah, is currently in his final year at BYU. Up to this point in his four years as a collegiate-level runner, he has competed in over 25 cross country meets, earning 14 top-10 marks, and three podium finishes.

Most recently, Brandon was named to the 2022 All-WCC First Team and finished in the top 20 in cross country at the NCAA Championship last November. In track, he recently broke his personal best for indoor mile, posting a time of 4:08.54. Despite the fast finish, Brandon is quick to point out that it wasn’t his fastest time, referencing his 4:04 finish from last year.

Brandon also put his name in the BYU record books in 2021 when he set the third fastest time in the 5000-meter race. His 13:29.16 time is right behind BYU great Connor Mantz and current teammate Casey Clinger.

“It’s definitely an honor, to be up there with those names,” Brandon remarked. “There’s even more notable names on that list, like Jacob Hesington. So it’s definitely an honor.”

Brandon’s pursuit for this type of greatness has been in the works for a long time, as running became a goal for him well before college. He began around the seventh grade. Alongside his twin brother, Caleb, and younger brother, Logan, Brandon would also run with his father, a casual runner. Caleb and Logan both went on to run collegiately at Utah State University.

Brandon’s mother, Stacy, said that running has been an integral part of their family. She said that lots of family vacations were centered around her sons’ track meets. “We tried to support all the boys and watch them develop and grow. Not just as athletes, but as human beings,” she said.

Stacy said she remembers during an outdoor invitational at BYU during his sophomore year of high school having thoughts that Brandon could run at the collegiate level.

“A family friend of ours mentioned to that Brandon was really talented and could make it as a D1 athlete,” Stacy recalled. “I had never even thought before then that that was even a possibility.”

Gisele Garnica, Brandon’s wife, talked about what an impact running has been on their relationship, even from the early stages. Running requires a lot of sacrifice on Brandon’s behalf.

“One of the first times we hung out and did something together, he actually had to bring over his backpack and homework,” Gisele looked back. “He doesn’t have the time for his other hobbies…sometimes I think that I’m busy, but know I’m not doing as much as he is.”

Gisele talked about how proud she is of her husband for all that he does to perfect his craft.

“It’s been really cool to see just how he works hard about something he really cares about. It’s the little things that matter, when competing at that level, making the effort every day to be the best he can,” she said. “It’s really cool to watch him compete and be at his races. He does travel a lot. He has gone every other weekend, but I don’t mind since it’s always been that way.”

Brandon even has hopes to continue running once his time at BYU concludes. Former male and female runners from BYU have gone on to run professionally. Among them include Conner Mantz who runs for Nike, and Courtney Wayment, who competes for On Running.

“I would love to run pro and am still trying to make that happen. I need to run faster and get my name out there”, Brandon emphasized. Much of Brandon’s chances for sponsorships and spots on professional team could be determined by Brandon’s results this track season.

Stacy mentioned that representing a country on the international level is even a possibility. Brandon’s father is from Mexico, giving Brandon the option to represent his heritage if the chance presents itself.

Brandon plans to go into electrical engineering if running professionally doesn’t pan out. Brandon has thought about this possibility and talked about what he hopes to feel when his days of running come to a close, whether than be at the end of this track season or years down the road. He knows that running is special, and has blessed his life.

“When I’m all said and done, I want to look back on my career and know I put in an honest effort and pushed myself to my peak,” Brandon reflected. “There’s a saying among runners that ‘running owes you nothing’. I will have learned a lot from running.”

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