Broen Holman, a 13-year-old distance runner with Foothill Gold Track Club and Curtis Creek School, won gold in both the 1500-meter and 3000-meter events this past weekend in the National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships in Sacramento.

“To win both races at the national championships is amazing,” Broen’s dad, Darren Holman, said Monday. “I do believe that to be a double national champion, the best in the U.S., is amazing,” Darren Holman said of his son’s achievements over the weekend in Sacramento. “We’re still in shock about it.”

“It’s so difficult at such a high level with everybody, the best of the in the country, to run your absolute best two days in a row is an amazing accomplishment,” said Darren Holman, 43, who grew up admiring legendary runners Steve Prefontaine and Frank Shorter. “Everything has to go right for your body to feel good enough to put forth your best effort on two consecutive days.”

Broen Holman, a Sonora resident, was seeded first in both events based on his qualifying times. He won the 3000-meter race Saturday morning in 9 minutes 11.43 seconds, pulling away from the rest of the field in the final lap to finish several lengths ahead of his closest challenger, Alex Lodewick of Diablo Valley Track and Field in Contra Costa County.

“I knew that Alex could run with me, and once he took the lead I knew I could stay with him too,” Broen Holman said Monday. “I was just trying to save as much energy as possible for the last hundred meters and that’s where I passed him.”

Broen Holman then won the 1500-meter event Sunday afternoon in 4 minutes 15.9 seconds. Both events were staged in Hornet Stadium at Sacramento State University. Broen Holman said he waited until he’d won both the 3000-meter and 1500-meter events to celebrate with a chocolate milkshake and french fries.

“I watched Broen win the 3000 in Sacramento and I watched the 1500 on a live feed,” said Paul McIlroy, physical education teacher and former track coach at Curtis Creek School for 12 years, and founder of Foothill Gold Track Club. “It was amazing to watch both. We’re very, very proud of him. It’s only the beginning for Broen I think.”

Two other Curtis Creek athletes, William Johnson, 14, of Columbia, and Erica Walker, 14, of Sonora, competed Saturday at the National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships.

Johnson, who started running competitively this year, finished 11th nationally in 9:45.08 in the 3000-meter race on Saturday morning. More than 40 distance runners started the boys 3000-meter final in the 13-14 age division.

“He just started running four or five months ago and he’s competing against the best in the state and he came out 11th against the best in the nation,” Claudia Bellevue, Johnson’s grandmother, said Monday. “It’s amazing. I think he’s just a natural and he loves it.”

Johnson has one more year left at Curtis Creek and then he’ll go to Sonora High School, Bellevue said. Johnson runs and trains with Holman and they’ve become very close in the past four to five months. Broen Holman suggested Johnson come out and try distance-running and he took a liking to it, said Johnson’s mom, Jen Johnson.

“He really enjoys it,” Jen Johnson said Monday. “I was surprised. I thought he was just going to practice but he really likes it. He doesn’t realize it’s a big deal. We’re all really proud of him. It started as something fun to do after school and now he’s competing.”

Walker, who has been doing discus and shot put for about two years, threw the discus 24.68 meters to earn 26th place nationally among 45 athletes who qualified for the final Saturday in Sacramento. Walker also started throwing hammer last year, said her father, Donovan Walker, the throwing coach at Sonora High School.

Holman, Johnson and Walker were among 6,650 competitors at this year’s National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships.

Two-time gold medalist Broen Holman and his family are not resting on their laurels. One day after Broen’s back-to-back national championships on consecutive days in Sacramento, the Holmans were already at a high-altitude cross country training camp Darren Holman organizes each summer near Mammoth on the Eastside Sierra.

Broen Holman said he’s training for cross country season, which starts in September, and for cross country nationals, organized by USA Track & Field in December in Madison, Wisconsin.

Darren Holman said he runs the high-altitude camp at Mammoth for Foothill Gold Track Club members and alumni. The coach and runners stay in condos and camp is at 8,000 feet above sea level. This year there are 12 athletes, ages 11 years to 20 years old, boys and girls, young men and young women, representing Curtis Creek, Sonora High School, Summerville High, Northern Arizona University and St. Mary’s College. They run a lot at 8,966-foot Lake Mary, and at 8,996-foot Horseshoe Lake, south of Mammoth near Mammoth Crest.

“At this level, like any athletic competition, you have to be a hundred percent into it because your competition is doing the same thing,” Darren Holman said. “You gotta be working hard.”

Young athletes like Broen Holman typically have several years to grow and mature before they peak as distance runners in their 20s, Darren Holman said. Darren Holman is a former junior olympics finalist, second-fastest in the nation in 1500 meters in 1989, conference champion for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and a professional runner for Nike.

Each year, the National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships organized by USA Track & Field are the national championships and highest level of competition available for athletes ages 7 to 18 in the United States. USA Track & Field 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. Previous national junior olympic competitors have included future Olympic champions and world champions like sprinters Maurice Greene and Allyson Felix, decathlete Bryan Clay, and three-time world champion shot putter John Godina.

Trak 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, Japan, and then July and August 2024 in Paris, France.

Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.

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