Broen Holman, a teenage distance runner with Foothill Gold Track Club and Curtis Creek School, is the top seed in the 1500-meter and 3000-meter finals at the National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships this weekend in Sacramento.
He’s a teen like other teens and mint chip ice cream is his favorite thing to eat. He trains four days a week and when he’s resting he likes to play with his German shepherd Pacer or relax on the couch and watch YouTube videos about fast cars like Lamborghinis.
Holman, 13, of Sonora, is among the fastest-ever athletes in his age group, and he is approaching world-record times for 13-year-olds.
“I just like to try and run as hard as I can,” Holman said Thursday before chowing down a chicken salad sandwich on sourdough bread, with grapes on the side, at Eighty One Coffee in downtown Sonora. “Maybe I’m thinking about medaling, getting a top place, or winning.”
Holman has also been getting straight As on his report cards since 4th grade, the year when Curtis Creek School students start receiving grades, his mom, Jessica Holman said Thursday. He’ll start eighth grade this fall.
Earlier Thursday, Broen won his 1500-meter heat at Sacramento State University. The heat is a preliminary to the 1500-meter final, the de facto national championship race for his age group at that distance. His heat time Thursday was equivalent to running a 4-minute, 30-second mile, so he’s about 30 seconds off a 4-minute mile in seventh grade, noteworthy for any runner in that age group.
The 3000-meter final will feature 48 starters and it’s scheduled at 9 a.m. Saturday at Hornet Stadium at Sacramento State. The 1500-meter final will have 12 competitors and it’s scheduled at 1:15 p.m. Sunday at the same location.
At least two other Curtis Creek athletes, William Johnson, 14, of Columbia, and Erica Walker, 14, of Sonora, are among 6,650 competitors at this year’s National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships. Johnson also runs the 3,000 meters and Walker throws discus.
“We’ve never had someone seeded first in their events like this before,” Paul McIlroy, the physical education teacher, former track coach at Curtis Creek School for 12 years, and founder of Foothill Gold Track Club, said Thursday in a phone interview.
“For a little tiny town in the foothills in California to have someone ranked number one in the country, it’s kind of a big deal,” McIlroy said. “He’s running against the best long-distance runners in all 50 states, and he’s got a shot to win it. And that’s a big deal.”
McIlroy said he’s known Johnson and Walker as his students the past two years at Curtis Creek. He’s known Holman since Holman’s birth because he’s good friends with Holman’s dad, Darren Holman, a former junior olympics finalist, second-fastest in the nation in the 1500 meters in 1989, a conference champion for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and a professional runner for Nike at 1500-meter, 5000-meter, and mile distances.
Holman said his role model for distance running his dad. Darren Holman, 43, said he grew up admiring legendary runners like Steve Prefontaine and Frank Shorter.
Walker has been doing discus and shot put for about two years and she started doing hammer last year, her father, Donovan Walker, the throwing coach at Sonora High School, said Thursday in a phone interview.
Each year, the National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships are the national championships and the highest level of competition available for athletes ages 7 to 18 in the United States, Robin Beamon with USATF communications said Thursday in a phone interview. USATF is based in Indianapolis and it’s the national governing body for track and field in the United States.
The USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships are not a stepping stone to international competitions for youth athletes. But previous national junior olympic competitors have included future Olympics champions and world champions such as sprinters Maurice Greene and Allyson Felix, decathlete Bryan Clay, and three-time world champion shot putter John Godina.
Track and field events, including distance running and discus throwing, have roots dating back more than 700 years before the birth of Christ to the earliest Olympic games in ancient Greece. Track and field is the spine and centerpiece of the modern summer Olympics held every four years. The next summer Olympics are scheduled in July and August 2020 in Tokyo.
There’s a heat advisory for temperatures approaching 104 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit Saturday and Sunday in Sacramento, and it’s supposed to be nearly that hot in Sonora, too.
The Tuolumne County Recreation Department-sponsored Youth Track Meet that was scheduled Wednesday at Summerville High School was canceled due to the high heat index and in order to assure the health and safety of children participating, county staff said.
In spite of forecasts, heat advisories and excessive heat watches, there have been no cancellations of National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships events this week in Sacramento, in part because it’s a national meet with more than 6,600 competitors from across the United States.
“We’ve had no issues whatsoever so far,” Beamon said Thursday. “They’re running fine and breaking records out there. We have medical staff and EMTs on site to monitor athletes and ensure they’re getting hydrated. We take every precaution.”
Contact Guy McCarthy at email@example.com or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.