Zach Buckey thought he was running a simple Thursday-morning errand.
After having breakfast with his girlfriend Alexia Drulias, the pair headed to Garces Memorial High School, where they'd both been star athletes. Drulias said the reason for the trip was to return a canvas photo of when she and her sister Anastasia won a 2016 Central Section doubles tennis championship.
But as he stepped into the school's gymnasium, greeted by an applauding crowd of roughly 30 friends, family and faculty members, a surprised Buckey knew he'd been had. In reality, he'd been brought to campus to be presented with the Major's Trophy, which is given out annually to a city athlete who attains "the highest standards of athletic performance, academic achievement, leadership and community service."
After Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh listed off his multitude of accomplishes — 4.5 GPA, being the second-ranked discus thrower in California, etc. — a still-surprised Buckey took to the microphone to address the room full of well-wishers.
"I was told I had to drop off a picture here at 9:30 and I couldn't do it anytime else," he said. "Now I understand why."
He's also the second member of the Buckey family to gain such recognition. His father Jeff was the Mayor's Trophy recipient in 1992, making them the first father-son duo to capture the award.
"It's just kind of the crowning achievement of his high school career," Jeff said. "I told him two or three years ago that you can accomplish anything you want. And he came through."
While he's found great success in track and field, Zach's sport of choice has always been football, which will give him another opportunity to follow his dad.
On Monday, Zach will start taking classes at Stanford, where he'll begin his college football career as a defensive lineman in 2021. Jeff also played at Stanford, where he was a standout offensive lineman in the 90s.
Jeff parlayed his college success into a five-year stint in the NFL, another accomplishment his son is hoping to duplicate down the road.
“It’s time to get ready for the NFL," Zach said. "Just got to grind hard for four years at Stanford and just keep trying to dream because there’s no reason to stop.”