Draper’s Race Cats track program producing young runners
Feb 01, 2018 11:00AM ● Published by Catherine Garrett
Draper's McKay Wells (second from right) placed third overall in the 9-10-year-old age group at the recent Junior Olympic Nationals, helping his team to a 15th place finish. (Photo/Nan Kennard)
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Draper’s Nan Kennard has running in her blood. So when the former two-time All-American at Brigham Young University returned to Utah three years ago and couldn’t find track programs around like the ones in Boulder, Colorado—where she had lived and coached—she decided to start her own. Race Cats, which is sanctioned by USA Track and Field, has been growing ever since around the Utah, Salt Lake and Davis County areas with expansion set for Weber County as well.
“The goal is a statewide league,” Kennard said. “Last year, we had 18 teams with over 600 kids throughout the Utah, Salt Lake and Davis county areas. All of the directors running their areas are former BYU teammates and six of us are Level 1 USA Track and Field–certified coaches.”
“Nan has been a tremendous force in creating this program,” said Corner Canyon High track and field coach Devin Moody. “She’s getting kids running and doing a great job.”
At the recent Junior Olympic Nationals in Tallahassee, Florida, Draper’s McKay Wells placed third overall in the 9-10-year-old division, leading his team to a 15th place finish. Other Draper runners on the 9-10 boys team were Sean Seely, Porter Jensen and Sharva Jarkenar. The 8U boys team, which included Draper’s Drew Croshaw and Logan Dorny, had a top 10 finish, coming in eighth place, while Draper’s Samantha Tenzer took 32nd in the 8U girls division.
Other Draper runners who qualified for Nationals were Kennard’s daughters, Ali and Bre, along with Abbi Anderson, John Croshaw, Anna Dorny, Matt Dorny, Asher Hartey, Avery Hartey, Audrey Johanson, Grayson Milne and Anna Nelson.
Thirteen other area runners qualified for nationals for the Race Cats: Isaac Allen, Kenny Briggs, Luke Briggs, Pyper Houghton, Brady Houghton, Cole Jameson, Breelyssa Leeper, Preston Marketts, Adam Moody, Christian Pettit, Gavin Pettit, Brooklyn Tarr and Caleb Tarr.
Kennard directs the Draper/Sandy area of Race Cats, which is a seven-week track program that provides top-level coaching for students in first through six grades who practice twice a week in an after-school running program. A Race Cats elite team is also offered. Registration for the spring league will be in early February. More information can be found at www.racecats.org.
“My vision for Race Cats is to facilitate opportunities for youth to discover running at a younger age than I did,” Kennard said. “I’ve designed the Race Cats program to be fun and positive so we can ignite a love of exercise in young children. I want them to experience the positive physical and mental benefits, confidence, joy and lifelong friendships that running provides.”
Kennard also emphasizes goal setting and learning principles daily that will help young people in running and in life. “I think it’s important to teach perseverance in life and running gives you those opportunities to fail and pick yourself up,” she said. “It is so rewarding to teach the youth community those lessons.”