Jarrett Kirk Goes From Spectator To State Champion In Just One Year

At Laney High School, in Wilmington, North Carolina,  a 5-11 sophomore named Michael Jordan was cut during try outs and didn't make his high school basketball team. At the 2000 NFL draft, Tom Brady was a late draft selection, going in the 6th round. 

Jordan eventually went on to grow four inches and trained rigorously to eventually make the team at Laney. He also would become an NCAA champion, NBA Champion, All-Star, MVP, Olympian, and widely considered the greatest basketball player of all time.

Brady has gone on have the most Super Bowl appearances in the history of the NFL, Super Bowl Champion, MVP, Pro Bowler, and has more regular season and post season wins than any other quarterback in NFL history. Brady is considered the biggest "steal" in NFL draft history as well as the greatest quarterback of all time. Oh yeah, it he also went on to marry a Brazilian supermodel.

As with Jordan and Brady, not all success stories start out on high ground. Some athletes have to endure obstacles or work harder than others to get to the level they want to get to.

Que in Jarrett Kirk.

As a freshman at Flower Mound, Jarrett Kirk was a regular kid on the cross country team. There was nothing outstanding or eye popping about him, which is typical of most high school freshmen. 

"It's been surreal to go from last year to this year, it's crazy, it's very hard for me to comprehend."

Jarrett Kirk - Flower Mound sophomore 

To start of his freshman year, Kirk would run a 19:27.63 in the first 5K of his high school career. He would improve consistently throughout the season as he would drop 20-30 seconds from each race. Kirk's progression rate saw him drop his time as low as 17:01.03 by the last meet of the season. 

However, his progress was not enough to earn him a spot on the Flower Mound varsity team. Kirk would not be able to suit up and run for the team at regionals or state. He would have to watch his teammates finish second at the Region I-6A championships and earn another trip to the state meet.

At the state meet, Kirk was a spectator cheering for the team as they ran to a third place trophy and a spot on the awards stand for a second straight year.

The Flower Mound varsity runners would go on to get photo opportunities, interviews, and medals as they put Flower Mound cross country on the map.

Just as things turned around for Jordan, Brady, and many other hard working athletes in sports history, things would eventually do the same for Kirk.

Kirk put in some major work over the summer. He worked hard running everyday and putting in the extra mileage and doing everything to get better, "I ran day in and day out." Over the summer is when he realized his hard work was paying off, "In the summer, there was a tempo run and I tried to hang on to Alex the whole time and I finished it and I was with him at the end and I thought to myself I wanna go 1-2 with this guy at state."

"Really, early I was thinking I want to be able to compete at that high level and be able to go with Alex."

Jarrett Kirk - Flower Mound sophomore 

From there, things began to click for Kirk. In the first meet of freshman year, Kirk ran at the Marcus I Invitational in the JV race where he went for that 19:27.63. This year at Marcus I, he ran the Varsity Elite race and he placed fourth overall with a 15:42.00.

Bam! Just like that, Kirk went from 17:01 to a sub 16 minute run in his first 5K of the season. A week later, he would drop an even faster time with his 15:12 at the Southlake Carroll Invitational and instantly became known state wide as well as nationally. 

From then on out, it became a usual site throughout this season to see Flower Mound teammate and arguably the best runner in the nation Alex Maier and Kirk go 1-2 in every race of the season. Thoughts of a Flower Mount 1-2 individual finish at state had become very realistic.

At state, Kirk would make his success story come full circle. Kirk would go from not making varsity, spectating, and cheering one year to crossing the line first and standing atop of the awards stand as the state champ the next year, in the largest division of Texas high school athletics. "Really, early I was thinking I want to be able to compete at that high level and be able to go with Alex." Now, that it has happened, "It's been surreal to go from last year to this year, it's crazy, it's very hard for me to comprehend."

 "I've tried to stay humble about it and not get too big of a head about it."

Jarrett Kirk - Flower Mound sophomore 

If he were to advise anyone who is looking to improve just as he did, Jarrett would tell them that hard work is the key, "I've worked real hard. It's helpful to have someone like Alex on the team to help you hit workout times, but keep working hard -- consistency is a big thing. You have to be willing to put the days in - day in and day out, just push yourself as hard as you can and you'll be successful."

So, what do you do when you wake up one day and you realize that you're the state champ? "I'm enjoying it,  I know I have a lot of time left, I'm trying to have as much fun and soak it up with all of my great teammates."

As far as dealing with success,  "I've tried to stay humble about it and not get too big of a head about it. Alex is a great example of that, last year he got fifth at Nationals and you would never be able to tell as he is very humble about it. He definitely led as a good example of that."

I'm not sure if Kirk will get good enough to be known by his initials like MJ or have a cool nick name like Air Jordan. I don't even know if he'll marry a Brazilian supermodel and I doubt he'll make millions of dollars running. However, I do know that he is getting the success he has worked hard for just like Jordan and Brady did. For now, we'll just watch him and his team run at the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) this weekend and enjoy their current success.