Lake Tahoe Track Club athletes win national Junior Olympic championship | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Lake Tahoe Track Club athletes win national Junior Olympic championship

Pictured are the boys’ 15-16 national 4x800 meter relay champions (from left to right) Orion Barger, Dylan Cleary, Niklas Pietzke, and Jimmy Cleary.
Provided

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Lake Tahoe Track Club sent seven athletes to the USA National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships and four came home with a title.

The Incline Village-based club traveled to Sacramento during the week of July 22-28 to compete at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium.

Athletes qualified for the meet by competing at association and regional qualifiers throughout the summer.

For the Lake Tahoe Track Club team, this meant that they needed to finish top five in their selected events at the region 16 qualifier in Modesto.

Club Head Coach Kris Nugent was extremely happy to have seven athletes make it through the region qualifier.

“Our club started four years ago with just six athletes,” Nugent said. “We are now a club of over 30 kids ranging from schools from all around the Lake. They work extremely hard and deserve all the success they accomplished. They travel all over Northern California and Nevada to chase their dream of competing on the national stage at Junior Olympics. It’s truly amazing to be a part of.”

Nugent said the highlight of the meet was the 15-16 boys’ 4×800-meter relay team of Dylan Cleary, Jimmy Cleary, Orion Barger and Niklas Pietzke.

The quartet won the national championship with a time of 8 minutes, 1 second.

“These four boys ran the race of their lives,” Nugent said. “They took on teams from all over the country and ran an incredible time to be crowned national champions. It’s a moment they will remember for the rest of their lives. We are so proud of these fine young men. A shout out to Nicholas Patrick. He also ran on this team throughout the summer and worked hard with this team at practices until the very end.”

Pietzke had a phenomenal meet.

He followed up his success in the 4×800, where he ran the anchor leg in a time of 1:56, with fourth place in the 1500 final with a time of 4:04 and a sixth-place finish in the 3000 (8:57).

Pietzke was honored as an All-American for all three events.

Pietzke also ran the third leg for the 15-16 boys 4×400 relay team, which also included Dylan Cleary, Jimmy Cleary and Barger. They finished 12th in the country with a time of 3:30.

Jimmy Cleary also competed in the individual triple jump and earned 35th.

Jimmy Cleary was excited about the team’s results, “We knew what we wanted and took it. We worked hard to be here and look forward to the opportunity to compete in 2020.”

Incline Village’s Millie Jenkins went to National JO’s for the 100-meter hurdles and the heptathlon for the 15-16 girls division.

For the hurdles, Jenkins progressed through the preliminaries to reach the semifinals and finish 23rd overall with a time of 15.71 seconds.

In the heptathlon, Millie placed 10th in the country with a total of 3,551 points.

She finished first in the high jump and fourth in the 100 hurdles.

Jenkins placed well through the remaining events, the 200 and long jump, while also setting personal best marks in javelin, 800 and shot put.

“I’ve loved learning the heptathlon and striving to get better in a number of new events,” Jenkins said. “I’ve learned this year that my biggest competitor is myself and to focus on continuing to push my limits.”

Barger went to JO’s for the 15-16 boys individual 400 and 800 and ran against tough competition and set personal best times for the summer in both events.

Barger was extremely unlucky in both the 400 and 800, as the top eight runners progress to the finals, and he finished ninth in both events. Barger ran a 49.88 in the 400 and a 1:59.69 in the 800.

LTTC also had two younger athletes competing for the first time.

Jackson O’Donnell joined the club this season without ever throwing a javelin in his life. O’Donnell had a great season and finished 31st in the 9-10 boys’ javelin with a throw of 22.48 meters.

Micah Bergstrom had a tremendous season competing in the 9-10 boys high jump at Nationals. He didn’t have his best stuff at JO’s to be below his personal best marks but still finished 30th.

Nugent said the team had a “phenomenal” summer in large part due to the dedication of the coaching staff.

“Coaches Brad Bergstrom, Aaron Moore, Dave Snearly worked tirelessly this summer to help our local athletes achieve their very best,” Nugent said. “As coaches, we are proud of every athlete that competed and trained with our club this year. All of our athletes got better this season and worked hard, as a coach that is all that we can ask. It’s a special club that we have started, and we look forward to next year.”

Dylan Cleary has been a LTTC athlete since the club started in 2016. Dylan was a part of both the 4×800 and 4×400 relay teams and has qualified in the past three national JO’s for the individual 200 and 400 events.

“I’m thankful that I am part of such an awesome club,” Dylan Cleary said. “Without the support of our amazing coaches and parents, we couldn’t get to where we are today. We truly owe our success to them.”

For information on the Lake Tahoe Track Club, contact Nugent at knugent@laketahoeschool.org.