October 19, 2010
On Monday, Prep Rally reported that an Ohio female placekicker had set a national record for longest field goal hit by a girl. We waited until after the field goal had been attributed as the longest in the national by the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations, whose assistant director himself claimed the kick was a national record. Well, sometimes everyone who reports something is wrong, and this is one of those times.
Within a few hours of when Prep Rally's post on Gaither's kick went up, we began receiving tips that a Southern California kicker named Heidi Garrett, who you see at the right, once connected on a kick from beyond the 43 yards from which Gaither hit her field goal. Four correspondents in particular had personal connections to Garrett's 48-yarder, and all pledged that her field goal definitely happened, was definitely from 48 yards and, in light of the recent claims that Gaither's kick was the longest, that Garrett should be the rightful holder of that title.
Under those circumstances, consider Garrett the new, official holder of the title of "longest field goal hit in a game by a female placekicker." After reading this story covering the game in which Garrett connected by North County Times writer Tom Sepulveda and a similar version from the Riverside Press-Enterprise by Nathan Max (now a staff writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune) as sent to Prep Rally by the Press-Enterprise's Eric-Paul Johnson, there's little doubt that Garrett actually did hit a 48-yard field goal in 2004 for Riverside (Calif.) King High in a 24-14 win over Paloma Valley (Calif.) High.
"In this case, I was there standing on the sideline covering the game, and feeling slightly inadequate because the longest kick I ever made in practice was 43 yards," Max told Prep Rally, via email. "Heidi Garrett, 48 yards, with room to spare."
As with Gaither, Garrett's teammates may have been the only people not surprised when the future Cal-Riverside soccer player connected from nearly midfield.
"She was an excellent teammate," Casey Weiss, one of Garrett's high school teammates who went on to play at San Diego wrote to Prep Rally. "We actually knew each other since fourth grade and were close friends. I long snapped for her all four years. So I really liked to have her as a teammate. She was never intimidated by the guys and always held her own. Even on kickoffs she would make tackles and really get into the play."
Equally impressive were the circumstances of Garrett's big field goal. According to Sepulveda, the kick essentially salted away a key victory for King, while a miss would have given Paloma Valley the ball with excellent field position and six minutes to score a game-tying touchdown. That alone speaks to the confidence King coach Darrin Owens had in his kicker.
"I can't stress enough that this wasn't a so-what kick at the end of a blowout," Sepulveda told Prep Rally. "There was a significant amount of pressure. King was only up 21-14 at the time. If she misses it, Paloma Valley would have had the ball with pretty good field position and a chance to tie with six minutes left. Owens really must have felt she was going to make it.
"And the kick put the game away. Paloma Valley had to try to score quickly down two scores, and really didn't have the offense to do that. That kick not only was a feat in itself, it changed the game for her team."
As we now know, the kick was a feat in itself. Gaither still has two more regular season games -- and a potential playoff run -- in which to get another shot at breaking the record, but for now Garrett is the queen of kicking from distance.
"She hits that in practice," Owens told the North County Times in 2004 of Garrett's kick. "Forty-seven is her absolute end point, and I thought we'd just go ahead and have her try to do it."