Texas Steeplechasers Have Success At AAU Junior Olympic Games


Brady Grant competed in the steeplechase at Texas Relays

The steeplechase is not an event that is held often in Texas. So, why do Texas runners have so much success in it when they run it? The easy answer is because they're Texans and we can do anything. However, not anybody can or should just jump in the steeplechase event. 

How do these athletes train to run so well? There are limited facilities in the state that are equipped with steeples/horses and water jump pits. Coaches, parents, and athletes have to use their imagination to come up with ideas and props to get their athletes the type of experience they'll face in a live steeple race.

So, again I ask how are our athletes so successful?

Photo by Raj Mehta of USA Today

The number one answer I believe has to be coaching. We have some of the best school and club coaches around. The Texas track and field and cross country coaches are as knowledgeable and as passionate coaches that you'll find.

I also believe, our Texas distance runners are some of the best around. Talent in our state is not scarce by any means. In almost any area, a good distance runner is either born or has the potential and coachability to be made.

Weather conditions in the state are also not the most idea conditions or conducive to distance running. As exhibited today at the AAU Junior Olympics, when our athletes get the opportunity to run in pretty good conditions the excel.

Texas athletes brought home nine AAU Junior Olympic medals and several others performed very well. 

Photo by Raj Mehta of USA Today


ASHLYN SMITH of South Austin Steel TC ran a personal best of 7:59.54 to take third in the 15-16 yo girls  2000 steeplechase. In the 17-18 yo girls 2000 steeple, ASHLEY FRYE of Xtreme Force TC and Round Rock Concordia HS just missed out on winning a national title. Frye ran a personal best 7:44.90 narrowly missing the win by one second. Frye, one of TAPPs' top distance runners showed great composure on a national level. Leander's HELEN RODDY earned a fourth place medal competing for Texas Thunder TC and she also ran a persona best and dipped under 8 min. Rounding out the 17-18 yo girl placers are LISBETH BRITT of Texas Thunder and Austin Royals and IZZABELLA GUERRERO of South Austin Steel and Dripping Springs who placed 6th and 7th respectfully. 

On the boys side, the 15-16 yo group saw JOSH PIKOFF from Austin Vandergift and ALEJANDRO URISTA from Lake Travis place 7th and 8th. Pikoff and Urista led a gang of Texans in the 15-16 yo steeplchase. In the 17-18 yo boys, Lake Tavis' BRADY GRANT flexed his muscle and ran an extraordinary race. He also narrowly missed out on a national championship by a second. Grant finished with a big time PR in 6:09.73. All-State 1A distance star AUSTIN ZIRKEL from Medina placed with a 6:26.32. Competing for his club, the Hill Country Comets, Zirkel was able to take 5th place leading a pack full of Texas steeplechasers along with Grant.

As the Texas kids get more experience steeple chasing, look forward to more races, faster times, and more national success.
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