Partner News: Eric Garrett and The Garrett Companies a major force behind Nike XC Town Twilight

by Steve Underwood

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When Eric Garrett and The Garrett Companies first partnered with the NSAF two years ago, the landscape of competitive opportunities for cross-country athletes was considerably different than it is now.

It was fall of 2020, about eight months into the full-blown pandemic, and many state meets and post-season national meets had been altered or cancelled for the season.  But in Terre Haute, Indiana – the home of the legendary Lavern Gibson XC Course – the status of the outbreak was at a moderate enough level that the NSAF began plans to launch a meet there, the XC Town USA Meet of Champions

“I started learning about the NSAF and then reached out to them to talk about how we possibly could get involved in supporting an event,” said Garrett when the original meet was announced. “As we saw what was happening this fall, with lot of kids having limited opportunities to compete -- or none at all -- I thought we could step in to help fill a void.”

Garrett and his family had their roots in Indiana, where his rising star harrier son, Ty, had been one of the fastest 9th-grade distance runners in the country the previous year. They had moved to Colorado, but Eric’s son’s new team was looking for a major meet to compete in.  Garrett and his company were able to step in with resources to help present an outstanding, national-class, mid-November meet that drew athletes from around the country. The XC Town USA Meet of Champions, Presented by The Garrett Companies, was born.

Fast-forward to 2022 and things have changed. The meet has evolved into a regular-season twilight affair, with the championship races taking place after sunset, under the lights.  Garrett and his family have moved back to Indiana where he continues to run his company and his son Ty, now a senior, is finishing out at Center Grove HS, his original school.

But what hasn’t changed is Garrett’s interest in supporting the NSAF, cross-country in Indiana, and Lavern Gibson.  One of the primary expenses involved in putting on a viable night meet on a cross-country course is the rental and installation of a temporary bank of lights around the course.  Thanks to Garrett’s support, the NSAF has been able to do that and the second edition of the Nike XC Town Twilight, Presented by The Garrett Companies will go off Saturday, October 1.

“It's always a pleasure to work with the NSAF, with everything they do for student-athletes,” says Garrett. “This sport is near and dear to my heart. Lavern Gibson is a unique and challenging course and it’s great to have a national-class, under-the-lights race here.

“It’s just a different atmosphere.  Kids get excited to do their best, the adrenaline is flowing and they have a great chance to run PRs on this course.  It’s a great experience for athletes at every level

Garrett himself is an Indiana State U. grad, so he has even more motivation to support outstanding events at Lavern Gibson.

The Garrett Companies is a fully integrated real estate company that specializes in class-A suburban multifamily projects. The company has worked in 17 states and has delivered more than 50 projects totaling over 13,000 apartment homes. It’ list of specialties includes LIHTC affordable housing, mixed-use development, and restaurant management. 

Garrett realizes there isn’t an obvious connection between his company and the sport – save for, of course, that its founder is a huge supporter of cross-country and track and field.  But building name recognition is always good and he allows that the type of student-athletes in the sport are the type of people he looks for in building his company. And it’s clear that he will always be championing the sport and its athletes, as well as everything the Lavern Gibson is doing to grow it.

“High school and college track and cross-country is pure, fun, and fun to watch,” he says. “It’s the last greatest form of competition in the world.”

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