Race Cats return home after a successful nationals showing
Feb 11, 2020 11:43AM
By Catherine Garrett
The Race Cats Elite track program of Draper took more than 50 runners to Madison, Wisc. for the USATF Junior Nationals Event Dec. 14 and had 11 runners finish in the top 100, including 17th-place finisher Cole Jameson, who earned All-American honors. (Photo courtesy Brooke Milne)
By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]
Draper’s Race Cats Elite track program, which competes by the motto, “Have Fun, Work Hard, Dream Big!” produced 11 top-100 runners at the USA Track and Field Junior Nationals in Madison, Wisconsin in December, including All-American Cole Jameson, who finished in 17th place. Others placing among the nation’s best were Ryan Brinkerhoff, Jonas Clay, Mya Curtis, Avery Garcia, Teagan Harris, Lily Jameson, Lucia Martinez, Grayson Milne, Liam Potter and Sydney Vessey. The 13- and 14-year-olds girls team placed fourth while the 9/10 boys squad finished in eighth.
“We have quite a few kids whose parents were collegiate All-Stars and the kids seem to be following in their parents’ footsteps but at a much younger age,” Michele Brinkerhoff, head coach of Race Cats Draper Elite, said. “Cole Jameson, Lily Jameson, Mya Bybee and Bre Kennard are all kids of former BYU national champions who show great promise.”
The high finishes at nationals came off the heels of the state placements where Luke Hejny took state in the 8-and-under boys division and McKay Wells won the 11/12 boys category. The 8-and-under boys, 9/10 boys, 11/12 boys, 13/14 girls and 13/15 boys all won their respective age groups while the 9/10 girls came in second.
“Our program is a competitive program but we have a lot of different levels of runners and are really just wanting to have kids who have a passion for running and a great attitude,” Brinkerhoff said. “We focus on teamwork, hard work and encouraging personal growth through building confidence and a positive attitude.”
Eighth grader Grayson Milne, who attends Draper Park, has been with the Race Cats since it began a few years ago. “They have extraordinary coaching and I have drastically improved my times,” he said. This year, he finished first in his school district and third at state while also breaking Race Cats records and being awarded the Downhill Mile award and Teammate of the Year for the second time.
“I have learned for myself that anything and everything can be done in a matter of time and effort,” said Milne, who finished with a personal best time of 14:02 on his 14th birthday at nationals to place 90th. “What separates those who succeed around me and those who don’t is effort and dedication. Anyone can be a top runner if they can be committed to the task.”
Other Race Cats who were award winners this season within their program were Ava Brinkerhoff (Downhill Mile; Leader of the Pack; Club Record Breaker), Ryan Brinkerhoff (Leader of the Pack), Maya Bybee (10 and Under), Watson Carr (10 and Under), Jacob Connoley (Sportsman of the Year), Mya Curtis (Rookie of the Year; Club Record Breaker), Zach Davis (Rookie of the Year), Matt Dorny (Most Improved), Jack Eastman (Most Improved in Season), Eloise Etherington (Cool Cats), Evan Fuller (Most Improved in Season), Avery Garcia (Downhill Mile; Co-Teammate of the Year; Club Record Breaker), Garrett Gutierrez (Downhill Mile), Teagan Harris (Energizer Bunny), Nicholas Heilig (Workhorse), Chase Hejny (Workhorse), Grant Hejny (Workhorse), Luke Hejny (Rookie of the Year), Brady Houghton (Workhorse), Cole Jameson (Downhill Mile; Athlete of the Season; Club Record Breaker), Lily Jameson (Most Improved), Myles Jameson (Club Record Breaker), Sierra Johnson (Sportsman of the Year), Bre Kennard (Downhill Mile; Club Record Breaker), Isaak Knutson (Cool Cats), Orrissa Lujan (Cool Cats), Corbin Mackay (Cool Cats), Max Martinez (Co-Teammate of the Year), Henry McNally (Workhorse), Jack Metcalf (Energizer Bunny), Bond Milne (Most Improved), Natalie Roberts (Most Improved In Season), Amelie Sletten (Cool Cats), Sydney Vessey (Cool Cats), Zach Wagstaff (Cool Cats), Jane Weiler (Workhorse), McKay Wells (Club Record Breaker) and Cameron White (Sportsman of the Year).
“We put fun first because at this age it is the most important to learn that running isn’t a punishment, but something enjoyable the kids can do for the rest of their lives,” Brinkerhoff said.