Draper runner best in nation at 800 metersAug 03, 2021 10:34AM ● By Catherine Garrett
Former Corner Canyon High runner Jake Orr won the 800 meters at The Outdoor Nationals July 3 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo courtesy Alisa Orr)
By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]
Draper’s Jake Orr set out to “just do well and do it for the experience” at The Outdoor Nationals July 3 at the prestigious Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. Instead, the Corner Canyon High graduate—and future BYU runner—won the 800 meters among nearly 40 of the top runners nationwide.
“I put a ton of work into it, but came in seeded 10th so it didn’t even cross my mind that I could win,” Orr said. “It was incredible and still so unreal.”
“Jake didn’t even know if he wanted to train for this event after barely losing state [to West Jordan’s Austin Klingler],” said Jake’s dad Troy Orr. “We knew he could do it, but we realistically didn’t know what his chances were. It was really an honor to be there.”
The 6-foot-6-inch son of Troy and Alisa Orr of Draper set a personal-best time of 1:50.92 —nearly 1.5 seconds faster than his previous best—to edge out Michigan’s Miles Brown by .03 of a second. His time also tops the CCHS record books in the event as well.
The event was divided into five heats with Orr competing in the fourth heat and the final results among the 38 runners simply came down to the clock. That fourth heat turned out to be the fastest grouping—with five runners ultimately finishing in the top 10—as one of the runners sprinted out of the gate and kept up a blistering pace early.
“He pulled everyone else in our heat with him,” said Jake Orr, who found himself dropped back to sixth or seventh place with about 300 meters to go. “I took a super risky move with a small opening I saw. It was my body telling me to go and I gave it everything I had. And then everyone thanked that runner for going so fast because most of us had personal bests.”
After his heat, Jake Orr knew he had the fastest time with one more group to go, but he and the other runners were escorted to a tent outside of the stadium and didn’t see the final race. Klingler, who will also run at BYU, then ran in the fifth heat and was the first to inform Jake Orr that he had won the competition.
“It didn’t even seem real,” Jake Orr said.
“It was such an emotional experience, more than we could have ever imagined, and we were just in shock that Jake won,” his mom Alisa Orr said.
Running wasn’t exactly the first option for Jake, but his father saw his talent early on.
“When Jake was little, he would get bored at his sister’s soccer games so we would just tell him to run around,” said Troy Orr, who was a distance runner for Park City High School. “When he was two, I couldn’t catch him anymore. I knew then that running was in his blood. He wasn’t as convinced early on as I had to bribe him to run but he kept winning every race, dominating through middle school until he found a love for it in high school.”
Jake Orr is the last in a line of athletic siblings which include his sister Shaylyn—who played soccer at BYU—as well as another sister who competed at nationals in club volleyball and brother Logan, who was a state champion hurdler in the 110 meters and 300 meters four years ago and still holds the school record in both events.
“As parents, we did not allow video games in our home which forced all of our kids to engage with sports and sports teams while many of their friends were home playing video games,” Troy Orr said. “There were many tough days along the way without video games in our home, but the memories we have now are well worth the sacrifices we made then.”
Jake Orr played soccer for a few years before gravitating toward basketball, all the while continuing to run. “I broke the school record in the third grade and was always winning my age group. I was really good at running, but I despised it,” he said.
As a freshman at Corner Canyon, he ran cross country and track and played basketball before choosing the track over the hardwood. He continued to improve his times, but began battling knee injuries and needed two separate surgeries over a couple of years while also suffering from ulcers which kept him out from the state cross country championships this past fall. He ended his high school career just .10 seconds off of a title in the 800 meters, earning All-State honors.
“I have learned much more from my failures and injuries than from any success I have had. Your attitude and the way you view your life really determines your success and how happy you are,” said Jake Orr, who credited teammates pushing him and “one of the greatest high school coaches” in CCHS coach Devin Moody.
“He is so motivated on his own and driven for the love that he has for the sport,” said Alisa Orr.
For now, Jake Orr will be off and running to Raleigh, North Carolina in early August to serve a two-year Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission before returning to compete for the nationally-renowned BYU track team.