Draper Race Cats represent at nationalsFeb 18, 2021 01:37PM ● By Catherine Garrett
Race Cats runners Cole Jameson, Mya Curtis, Hunter Hurl, Ryan Brinkerhoff and Cooper Hurl pose with their hardware after the Triple Crown Championship at Art Dye Park last fall. (Photo courtesy Michele Brinkerhoff)
By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]
The Draper Race Cats 11/12 boys team placed second at the AAU Cross Country Nationals in Tallahassee, Florida Dec. 5 with three of its runners finishing in the top 10 in their age groups. Luke Cutting took second while Alex Bybee came in third for 11-year-olds and Hunter Hurl finished seventh for 12-year-olds that finished as runners-up by just five points. Cole Jameson was second overall in the nation in the 13-year-old boys division.
“It felt pretty good to be on the podium,” Luke Cutting said. “Alex and I run best together and we were with each other until I kicked it in the last 400 meters.”
Other top finishes at nationals were Cooper Hurl (13th, 8-year-old boys), Teagan Harris (14th, 10-year-old girls), Ryan Brinkerhoff (15th, 10-year-old boys), Max Martinez (16th, 11/12 boys), Maya Bybee (17th, 11-year-old girls) and Mya Curtis (21st, 14-year-old girls). Top 100 finishers were Jack Cutting (11/12 boys), Cameron White (13-year-old boys), Lucia Martinez (9-year-old girls), Kayla Lake (12-year-old girls), Eloise Etherington (11-year-old girls), Tyana Lake (11-year-old girls) and Ava Brinkerhoff (14-year-old girls).
“We had a lot of fun and some awesome experiences,” director and head coach Michele Brinkerhoff said. “There were teams from all over the country competing. We brought 17 athletes just from our little club here in Draper.”
At the USATF state championship in Spanish Fork Nov. 28, 2020 Cooper Hurl, Harris, Liam Potter (9/10 boys) and Jameson won individual titles while the 9/10 girls team, the 9/10 boys team, the 11/12 girls team and the 11/12 boys team also claimed championships.
The Cutting brothers moved from Oregon during the summer and were hoping to resume playing football, but they instead participated in their first year of cross country. Luke had been a star in track previously— having taken second at the 2019 nationals in the 1500 meters—but they had always been able to see their competition on a track whereas now they were on a course.
“They were reluctant, especially Jack, but my ‘mom gut’ felt like they needed to run,” their mother Liz Cutting said. “They started the season wishing they were playing football and ended the season in Florida with national medals in cross country. Now, they can’t wait for track to start and have a newfound passion for the sport.”
Jack said, “I never felt like it was going to be terrible since I had run track before, but after the second race I started to have fun and then just wanted to improve. My time has gone down and I’ve gotten faster with hard work and practice. Plus, I feel a part of something.”
Luke said he was “bummed” with not playing football, but he said it turned out to be “awesome.” By his third race, he had shaved 22 seconds off of his previous best time. “I learned that hard work pays off a lot and I made lots of friends, especially Alex, who pushed me a lot,” he said. Now, he has a goal to be a collegiate runner.
“They definitely have a love for running now and have realized that the way you practice determines the way you perform. I knew they would work hard, but they got to see that hard work pays off,” Liz Cutting said. “This was a highlight of 2020 for us as our whole family got into running. We got hooked.”
Cole Jameson, whose dad Teren was a national champion runner at the University of Utah while his mom Emily ran for a national championship team at BYU, has now earned his own All-American status as he finished 14th in 2019 to go with his runner-up finish this past season. He said he enjoys running whether it’s alone or with friends and being able to watch himself improve. “It’s made me see that my hard work pays off and so I’ll work harder for stuff even when it comes to good grades in school,” Cole said.
The Race Cats cross country and track programs are for runners 8 to 14 years of age and focus on fun, personal improvement, teamwork and consistency with the overall theme, “Have Fun, Work Hard, Dream Big.” The track portion—with running events, hurdles, long jump, high jump, discus, shot put and javelin—begins practices at Corner Canyon High School at the end of March and the season goes until June.
“We have awesome coaches that have competed on world stages for Team USA and one coach who even has an Olympic silver medal,” Brinkerhoff said. “Our program has been amazing this year and a very healthy outlet for children in the Draper area. With kids being so isolated and home a lot, this has proven to be an amazing help to their overall well-being and emotional state. It’s also very empowering for the kids and it really teaches them skills that they can use in whatever they do in the future.”
Liz Cutting credits coach Brinkerhoff’s “ability to make running fun.”
“Michele is the true champion. She is a Draper hero,” she said. “She’s so organized with different plans in case she needs to adjust, she has spreadsheets to show the kids their improvement from month to month; she’s just fantastic and is a true gift to the community.”
More information can be found at www.racecats.org under Race Cats Elite as well as their Instagram page @racecatselitedraper.