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The City Journals

Draper’s Hunter Hurl among top runners nationwide in his age group

Sep 15, 2021 01:11PM ● By Catherine Garrett

Draper’s Hunter Hurl is among the top runners in his age group in the nation, earning All-American status in track and cross country during the past season. (Photo courtesy Brooke Milne)

By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]

Twelve-year-old Hunter Hurl of Draper finished fifth in the 3000 meters at the AAU Junior Olympics in Houston, Texas in early August, wrapping up a stellar year for the sixth grader.

“I did pretty well,” Hunter Hurl said. “I started out pretty conservative and then was able to make up ground, passing a couple of runners in the last 75 meters.”

Hunter Hurl, the son of Jeremy and Kelly Hurl of Draper, also competed in the 1500 meter event and finished 11th. 

“I tripped in the first five meters and didn’t have the best race,” Hunter Hurl said. “But, I did get up, make up ground and finished the race.”

His top placements capped off a summer when he competed as the only sixth grader in the entire county who qualified for the Middle School Nationals, which was held at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, where he came in 18th. He also won the Triple Crown of distance running—the 800 meters, 1500 meters and 3000 meters—at the AAU West Coast Nationals in Reno, Nevada and was the Region 11 champion in the 1500 meter and 3000 meter events, running a personal best 4:42 in the 1500.

“Hunter is an amazing athlete who listens to his coaches and does everything we ask with no questions asked,” said Race Cats Elite coach Michele Brinkerhoff. “He gives 100% to every single practice and meet. He has the best heart and is such a good leader on our team.”

The Draper Park Middle Schooler also earned All-American honors in cross country last fall in taking seventh in the 11-12U national race, leading his team to a second place finish. 

Hunter Hurl’s athletic journey began in a stroller at six months old when his parents, who are avid runners themselves, would take him while they trained for their own races. “He was in the stroller for a lot of miles,” Kelly Hurl said, adding that he then began riding a bike before beginning to run on his own. At six years old, he qualified for the state meet but couldn’t compete because he was too young.

Hunter Hurl continued running, “wanting to show myself that I could do it,” and began racing in 1 mile and 5K races. Last year, his family moved from Oregon on the day school started in Draper so Hunter and younger brother Cooper could attend in-person and they joined Race Cats Elite where their talents flourished even further.

Cooper placed 14th in the country at AAU Cross Country Nationals this past fall and is the reigning 8U 2K state champion and USATF Regional Champion.

“We’ve tried to give them opportunities and have seen them benefit from having to show up, be committed, make new friends and be a teammate, learn from coaches and be exposed to other places in our travels for their events,” Kelly Hurl said. “It’s been a hard year where I even stayed behind to work in the ICU until April, but we’ve tried to do what was best for our kids.”

Running is personal for each of the Hurls. Jeremy is a longtime trail runner and coach; Kelly has run multiple marathons. They set a goal to begin the new year in 2017 to run every day for a month and then “saw no reason to stop” so they have now each run at least two miles every day since with the exception of one day that Jeremy missed. 

“I think our boys have seen our commitment to consistency—that it can take as little as 20 minutes and it’s not an if, but when,” Kelly Hurl said. “We’ve also loved to influence them with the knowledge that when you move your body you feel good.”

Kelly also said she has enjoyed being able to run with her two boys. “When we go, we’re without screens and without an audience and can talk about trails, life and their thoughts in a much more informal setting,” she said.

“All of us can connect, and we’re able to enjoy running together,” said Hunter Hurl.

From Race Cats coaches Michele Brinkerhoff and Teren Jameson, Hunter Hurl has learned how to develop and implement a training plan and how that translates into success or even the ability to adapt in a race. He trains six days a week with sights set on large goals like running on a Division I scholarship at a top school as well as small benchmarks aimed to lower his times through the next couple of years and then as he runs high school courses.

“I love to be out there running,” said Hunter Hurl. “It’s very calming and yet it’s still hard. But, when you’ve put in that work, your training will show. If you believe in your dreams and work for them, big things can come.”

Jeremy Hurl said he has enjoyed watching his son grow and develop in the sport. “It’s been neat to see him be so motivated to train on his own and then strategize and analyze his performances,” he said.

Brinkerhoff said, “I am excited for the day I see him winning a national championship or Olympic medal, and I can say that I had the opportunity to coach him back in the day.”

Aside from running, Hunter Hurl is also an All-American wrestler and led his team to the Canyons Middle School District championship while also winning the individual title. He wrestles for the CCHS wrestling club—coached by Jeff Eure and Cam Jones—and the Sons of Atlas wrestling club with Andrew Hochstrasser.

“Whatever Hunter does in his future, whether running or otherwise, he will be incredible because he refuses to quit and always gives his best at everything he does,” Brinkerhoff said. “I think this is just the tip of the iceberg for Hunter. He has big dreams, and I am sure with his determination, they will come true.”