Though Garry Pirch and his wife Cindy are moving from the Vandalia area, their move wouldn’t be complete without one more thing checked off their to-do list. For several years, “The Vandalia Leader” has attempted to tell the community about Mr. Pirch’s accomplishments in track and field, both from when he was younger through today.
In an effort to not bring attention to himself, Garry Pirch politely declined to have a story written about him.
Fortunately, he was willing to share his inspirational story before leaving town.
In his retirement years, he continues to participate in USA Master Track Meets and National Senior Games.
Currently, he holds the record in the high jump for both ages 55-59 and 60-64 in the Kansas Senior Olympics.
Garry Pirch is also the record holder in the same event for ages 55-59 in the Missouri Show-Me Games, a co-holder for the same age group in the Missouri Senior Games, and a record holder for ages 60-64 in the Missouri Senior Games.
In 2001, Garry Pirch was the national champion in the high jump at the USATF Master meet for ages 45-49.
More recently, he was the ages 60-64 Hunstman World Senior Games Champion in 2014.
Garry Pirch said competing in track and field is good for those people who are wanting to compete or are just wanting to get in better shape.
“It has individual events and it does not matter at what level you are competing,” said Garry Pirch, who competes in senior track and field events throughout the country. “There are so many people at the meets willing to help you with technique or ideas to train to improve…It is a great way to meet people from all over the state and country. Some people I have known for 15 years and only see them at certain meets or sometimes only once a year.”
He said one lady he met many years ago started competing in almost every event though being overweight. She went to enough meets and kept training until she lost a lot of weight and made many friends along the way.
Through the years, Garry said he’s enjoyed scheduling vacations around track meets as just last year he competed in the National Senior Games in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he placed second in the high jump. It gave the Pirch’s a chance to visit the Wisconsin Dells on the same trip.
He also took second at the State Games of America in Lincoln, Nebraska, a state where his wife has many relatives they had a chance to visit.
Track meets include those ages 30-34, 35-39, and goes up from there with even folks in their 90’s competing.
“If you are worrying about getting older, this can help because every five years you are in the youngest age group,” Pirch said.
“I was talking to this one guy and his wife at a recent meet and she asked how old I was. When I said 61 she said ‘you’re a baby.’ She is 69 and her husband that was competing is 70. I said ‘now I don’t feel so old.’”
Garry Pirch, the high school and college athlete
Garry Pirch was a state champion in the high jump for Class M in 1972 at Holden High School. He was also a two-time conference and district champion.
On the basketball court, he was an all-district selection who scored 1,160 points in his career. As a senior he averaged a double-double of 23.6 points and 15.9 rebounds per game. He even scored 40 points in a single game.
Mr. Pirch was inducted into the Holden High School Hall of Fame in September 2013.
While at Southeast Missouri State University, he reached 6’8” in the high jump for the track and field team.
He also played basketball for four years and helped his team win the MIAA Tournament.
Career in Education
Garry Pirch taught physical education and coached boys and girls basketball at Nell Holcomb R-IV School District near Cape Girardeau for 19 years.
He holds a Masters in Educational Administration in 1998 from Southeast Missouri State University and graduated with a Specialist in Educational Administration from the same school.
He served as Principal/Superintendent at Mark Twain R-VIII School District (not in Ralls County) for three years and coached basketball at the school. Mr. Pirch was Superintendent at Lutie for three years and three more from Rich Hill R-IV before retiring.
During the past eight years, he’s helped with coaching basketball and track and Van-Far.