During the week of July 22-28, 2019, the Lake Tahoe Track Club (LTTC), based out of Incline Village, had seven athletes travel to Sacramento to compete at the 2019 USATF Jr. National Olympics.

Athletes must qualify for the USATF Jr. National Olympics 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 5 in their selected events at the region 16 qualifier in Modesto.

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. 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.”

The highlight of the meet was the 15-16 boys 4x800m team of Dylan Cleary, Jimmy Cleary, Orion Barger, and Niklas Pietzke winning a national championship with a time of 8:01. Coach Kris shared, “these four boys ran the race of their lives. 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, as he also ran on this team throughout the summer and worked hard with this team at practices until the very end”.

Niklas Pietzke had a phenomenal meet. Niklas followed up his success in the 4x800m, where he ran the anchor leg with a time of 1:56, to also finish 4th in the 1500m final with a time of 4:04 and finish 6th in the 3000m with a time of 8:57. Being honored as an All-American for all three events. Niklas also ran the third leg for the 15-16 boys 4x400m team, which also included Dylan Cleary, Jimmy Cleary, and Orion Barger. The 4x400m team finished 12th in the country with a time of 3:30. Jimmy Cleary also competed in the individual triple jump to finish 35th. Jimmy Cleary was excited about his 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 100m hurdles and the heptathlon for the 15-16 girls division. For the 100m hurdles, Millie progressed through the prelims to reach the semi-finals and finish 23rd overall with a time of 15.71. In the heptathlon, Millie placed 10th in the country with a total of 3551 points. She finished 4th in the 100m hurdles and 1st in high jump. Millie placed well through the remaining events, the 200m and long jump, while also setting personal best marks in javelin, 800m, and shot put. Millie reflected on the year by saying, “I’ve loved learning the heptathlon and striving to get better in a number of new events. I’ve learned this year that my biggest competitor is myself and to focus on continuing to push my limits”.

Orion Barger went to JO’s for the 15-16 boys individual 400m and 800m. Orion ran against some very tough competition and set personal best times for the summer in both events. Orion was extremely unlucky in both the 400m and 800m, as the top 8 runners progress to the finals, with Orion finishing 9th in both events. Orion ran a 49.88 in the 400m and a 1:59.69 in the 800m.

The Lake Tahoe Track Club also had two younger athletes competing at National JO’s for the first time. Jackson O’Donnell joined the club this season without ever throwing a javelin in his life. Jackson had a great season and finished 31st in the 9-10 boys javelin with a throw of 22.48m. Micah Bergstrom had a tremendous season competing in the 9-10 boys high jump at Nationals. Micah didn’t have his best stuff at JO’s to be below his personal best marks but was still able to still finish 30th.

The Lake Tahoe Bobcat team had a phenomenal summer season, as the results indicate, in large part due to the time and dedication of the coaching staff. Coach Brad Bergstrom, Coach Aaron Moore, Coach Dave Snearly, and Coach Kris Nugent worked tirelessly this summer to help our local athletes achieve their very best. Coach Kris remarked, “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 Lake Tahoe Track Club athlete since the club started in 2016. Dylan was a part of both 4x800m and 4x400m relay teams and has qualified in the past three national JO’s for the individual 200m and 400m events. Dylan reflected on the past year, “I’m thankful that I am part of such an awesome club. 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”.