Mach 1 Track Club in Weatherford trains kids to run track and cross country — quite successfully.
At the recent AAU Cross Country National Championships at Florida State University, the club won its first-ever team national championship for girls aged 11-12, while two of Mach 1’s runners earned individual national titles.
The club sent 22 runners to compete at the nationals, and 14 of then earned medals, including five All-American performances.
Winning the team national championship in the 3K for girls ages 11 and 12 were Madison Larsen, Micah Neal, Mykel Murry, Mayden Mitchell, Sofia Brandenburg, Elizabeth Griffin and Emerita Strathmeyer. They competed against 16 teams and 240 runners, and their team average was 10:51 for its top five runners. All seven runners received gold medals and a team trophy.
Neal won an individual national title in the 3K race for 11-year-old girls with a time of 10:28.93, making this her fifth individual national title at four different distances.
Josh Fink got off to an explosive start in the 1K race walk contest for 10-year-old boys and won a national gold medal with a time of 5:36.10.
Three other runners earned All-American honors. Larsen, a team captain, took seventh place in the 12-year-old girls 3K race with a time of 10:46.52. Mitchell took fifth place in the 11-year-old girls 3K with a time of 11:01.38. In his first national race, Myles Murry won third place in the 7-year-old boys 2K with a time of 8:06.50 despite minimal training due to football obligations.
Several Mach 1 runners achieved top 25 finishes, which is difficult to accomplish at this level of competition.
In the 14-year-old boys 4K, Dominick Barrera finished 14th with a time of 12:36.68, and Jack Fink finished 25th with a time of 12:51.59.
In the 12-year-old girls 3k, Mykel Murry finished 11th at 10:57.94. Sofia Brandenburg ran the entire race with just one shoe after her shoe came off at the start. She persevered to finish 14th with a time of 11:02.01. Elizabeth Griffin finished 17th with a personal best 11:07.42. Emerita Strathmeyer finished 89th at 12:45.67, another personal best.
“It was nice to see these girls stick together through these tough times and flip the switch on the two teams that beat them when they competed as 9-10 year olds in icy conditions in the national XC meet in Reno, Nevada two years ago,” said Matt Mitchell, who coaches 12-and-under kids for Mach 1. “They competed against talented Pacific Coast Shockwaves runners from California with six locations and Kokopelli Racing Team from Colorado, a big club that trains in the altitude.”
Kindell characterized Mach 1’s showing as “epic.”
“The girls deserve this level of recognition for their awesome dedication and determination through their years of training in the Mach 1 system,” he said. “They always give it their all.”
Other notable distinctions:
• In the 7-year-old boys 2K, Evan Pittman finished 21st at 9:19.09 in his first-ever cross country race.
• In the 10-year-old girls 3K, Jaedyn Price finished 53rd.
• In the 10-year-old boys 3K, Maddox Murry finished 14th at 11:14.96, a personal record. Caleb Connelly finished 64th.
• In the 12-year-old boys 3K, Tyler Connelly set a new Mach 1 record with a time of 10:29.65. Lincoln Tuin finished 26th, Abram Loth 54th, Nicholas Walden 67th.
• In the 13-year-old boys 4K, Luke Schabel finished 41st.
• Honorable mentions in the 14-year-old boys 4K went to Aiden Mansell and Vance Tuin.
Mach 1 Head Coach Lupe Torres described the season as “really tough and challenging” because of COVID-19 but said the team’s athletes adapted and worked hard at every session.
“That’s the main thing you can say about this group — they have an outstanding work ethic,” he said. “Everyone ran really well and almost everyone had a personal record.”
The competition was fierce at the national tournament, he said.
“Coach Matt Mitchell and I are really proud of our athletes,” he said. “It was a great way to end the season with multiple national champion winners and multiple medals.”