Track club wins at nationals


Associate editor

The Federal Way Track Club brought home its first Junior Olympics national championship Dec. 21 just outside Atlanta, Ga. The Federal Way team in the the Young Men’s division placed six runners in the top 30 to win the title, led by fifth-place individual finisher John Timeus.

Timeus, Katrina Drennen, Karin Rhode and Peter Melrose earned all-american honors by placing in the top 25 in their respective age groups.

The runners on the championship team were waiting about a mile away from coach Darryl Genest when they heard the results.

“They tried to sprint back to come tell me they had won, but they were so tired they had to walk, then run, then walk,” Genest said. “When they told me it was a very special moment. They could hardly talk, they gave it everything they had.”

It’s the first national championship for the club, which Genest has coached for the past 10 years.

“Last year’s team had three all-americans, six individuals placed in the top 30 and we thought for sure we’d be top three, but we were fourth. We were thinking, ‘What does it take?’ ” Genest said.

Two of those all-americans from last year, Mike Ogwel and Mike Taylor, came back this year, with the addition of Timeus, Peter Melrose, Andrew Fuller, Sam Wambugu, Allen Wood and Travis Hoeft.

“We have incredible depth,” Genest said. “I was counting and watching at the finish line, but with that many runners you can’t pick them all out.”

Federal Way finished with 71 points. The next closest team, the Silver State Striders, had 112 points. The top five runners earn scores, but even if Federal Way would have used the score of its sixth runner, it still would have won.

More than 2,300 athletes from 195 teams ran in the meet. The course was so muddy it was closed so most of the runners were able to preview it. For many of the athletes, the first time they ran on the course was the race.

“They didn’t know when to go for the final kick or how hard to push,” Genest said. “Having these results is incredible. It says a lot about the talent of the athletes and not letting it get to them. They came here with their goals and stayed focused on their goals.”

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