Fifteen Park City Runners qualify for Cross Country Junior Olympics | ParkRecord.com

Fifteen Park City Runners qualify for Cross Country Junior Olympics

(Courtesy of Rachel Taylor) Park City Running Club athletes at Sugar House Park for the USATF Utah State Meet. Fifteen of the club's athletes have the opportunity to travel to Tallahassee, Florida, to compete in the National Junior Olympics Cross Country Championships in December.

Park City Running Club started off its first year with a bang. After starting in May, the program has been training young athletes in cross-country running. Fifteen PCRC runners qualified for the Junior Olympics in Tallahassee, Florida, through the USA Track and Field State Meet Junior Nationals Qualifier in Sugar House Park on Nov. 11.

Rachel Taylor, founder and coach at PCRC, said it wasn't long after the organization started that it was clear the group would be competitive. Practices split in two, with a beginner/intermediate group that was learning techniques through playful means and a competition group that was focused on more overt drills and practice.

Taylor said she wasn't surprised by the young athletes' eagerness to commit to intense training.

"I know how I was as a kid, and I think a lot of the power is in the joy of competing," she said. "I think kids want to absorb as many strategies as they can to (improve)."

She said she saw the athletic nature of Park City well represented among her group from day one.

"We just had to figure out how to get the staff to respond to the outpouring of competitive athletes," she said. "Once I got the coaching staff in place, it really all came together."

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Taylor said the selection of coaches happened naturally, with community members joining to help soon after PCRC's founding.

Carolyn Jackson works with Taylor at Parley's Park Elementary School, and her experience with outdoor education made her a natural choice for the club. She and Melissa Price, who has three kids on the team and was an elite swimmer, took over the more play-oriented class.

Meanwhile, Taylor, who was a collegiate runner, and Nikki Dotter, an All-American runner, lead the competitive classes.

"On Mondays we always work on speed, then Wednesdays are hills and endurance, then Fridays we work on endurance and Saturdays speed again," Taylor said.

Though young people sometimes get a bad rap for not being motivated, Taylor said the athletes that joined her program love the challenge.

"They want the goal training," she said. "They love setting goals and they know the only way they can achieve them is through having a plan and putting in the hard work. At this elite level, they want the training."

Odds are, competition at the national level is going to be extremely tough, and Taylor recognizes that. She expects the Junior Olympics in Tallahassee to show her athletes how big the running world is and, hopefully, show them the possibilities that the sport provides.

The National Junior Olympics Cross Country Championships kick off on Dec. 9.

"I'm not feeling stressful and the kids are saying they aren't feeling stressed about it," Taylor said. "They are saying they are ready for that next event and the next season."

She plans on expanding the club to include track and field next spring.

Park City Running Club’s Junior Olympic Cross Country Qualifiers

USATF State Meet Junior Nationals Qualifier

Cottonwood Regional Softball Complex, Salt Lake City

Nov. 11.

Girls:

2000-meter U8 – 1, Henley Wismer, 9:32.37. 3, Avery Davidson, 9:58.25.

3K, 9-10 – 1, Carline Retzer, 11:43.93. 2, Talie Larsh, 12:44.54. 11, Olivia Goldberg, 14:42.90.

3K, 11-12 – 2, Annika Hunt, 12:00.54. 5, Ava Coccaro, 12:30.39. 7, Abigail Pruyn, 12:37.36. 10, Maddie McHenry, 12:53.73. 12, Kaylee Hale, 13:03.12.

Boys:

3K, 9-10 – 4, Fletcher Wolf, 11:52.79. 11, Van Talbott, 12:30.45.

3K, 11-12 – 9, Brendan Johnson, 11:58.05. 10, Cullen Meffert, 11:59.41.

4K, 13-14 – 5, Sebastian Wolf, 15:35.72.