Braves teammates Kyle Hensley and Bryson Richardson after breaking their school indoor records. Both are heading to Eugene, Oregon this week to compete in the USTAF National Junior Olympics.
By BLAKE FAITH
Two Mt. Zion Braves’ track and field athletes are heading to Eugene, Oregon to compete in the USTAF National Junior Olympic Championships. Bryson Richardson will be running for 07 Vipers Track Club and Kyle Hensley is Pole Vaulting unattached.
“It’s an honor and I’m so grateful, I knew It was possible for me to make the cut, but I knew It would take the work,” Richardson said. “Thankfully my work has paid off and I am going to compete at Nationals in Eugene, OR at Hayward Field. I have to say the feeling that came over my body when they announced I was going to Nationals for the 200 meter dash was indescribable. From the feeling in my heart, to the screams of my mother, I have to say it’s definitely a top 3 sports moment for me.”
Hensley had a similar thought to Richardson when it came to qualifying for the USTAF National Junior Olympics.
“When I first started USATF I knew I stood a chance of making it, but after I won the regional round, I felt very relieved and happy,” Hensley said. “I know there’s going to be tougher competition there, so I’m using this to transition out of normal high school competitions.”
Hensley graduated last spring for the Braves and finished in second place in the 2023 IHSA 2A State Track and Field Championships in Pole Vaulting with a jump of 4.75 meters. Hensley has already signed and will compete at Millikin University in Pole Vaulting next school year.
“Qualifying for nationals definitely ranks in the top 3 on my list of track moments,” Hensley said. “I’ve never competed at the national level before, so this is a big deal for me.”
Richardson will be a senior this school year and competed in the 2023 IHSA 2A State Track and Field Championships in the 200 meters and finished in 27th place with a time of 22.75 seconds last spring. At the National level coming in, Richardson is ranked 53rd out of 100 with a time of 22.48 seconds.
“I will make sure no matter what happens, no matter where I place, or any factors that could alter my mindset during this meet are completely turned off,” Richardson said. “I want to have the best mental game coming into Nationals. That is something I want to also carry over to my high school season, because I know if I can be ready for Nationals, I can be ready for anyone or anything on the track.”
Richardson will also compete in the 4×100 relays for the Vipers as well.
“Bryson has put in the work this season,” Vipers head coach Marques Lowe said. Last summer his PR was 23.19 and last week he ran his lifetime best of 22.48 for the summer. He can do anything he puts his mind to. He’s been focused on track and grinding daily. His work ethic when he’s locked in is special and no one can match that. Every minute, day, week, and month he continues to grow and that is why he earned his spot this year at the USATF National Junior Olympics. It has been his goal since last year and he is! heading out to TrackTownUSA next week.”
Coach Lowe continued, “My advice to Bryson is to live in the moment and enjoy the experience, This one is one in a lifetime. Don’t stray away from your daily training. Do what you practice daily and just go out there and compete with your heart. Leave it on the track and live in the moment and finish the mission.”
Richardson’s first event will be on Wednesday at the USTAF National Junior Olympic Championships.