Brayan Flores of Alamosa Colorado and an In The Arena participant since 2006 has an inspiring story. This past weekend, Brayan participated at the Hersey Track and Field State Meet in Grand Junction, Colorado. After a few setbacks, Brayan gets the opportunity to go back to Hersey meet and redeem himself from what he considers a learning and inspiring experience at the 2011 Hersey Meet when he did not advance to finals. Last year, he missed the games due to a summer family vacation. This year, he was determined to make it to State and advance to finals. Brayan did not only made it to finals in both events, the 100m and 200m, but he finished 3rd (12.56) and 1st (26.21) respectively. He also placed 7th in the softball throw. We caught up with Brayan soon after his races and this is what he had to tell us about his journey to the Colorado Hersey State Track Meet.
What does it take for a 13 year old to make it to the State Championships?
First of all, one needs to meet the age requirements, participate in a local Hersey meet and finish in the top 3 to advance to state.
Well, I did not turned in my registration forms on time for the Alamosa Hersey meet, but I did the races anyways just for fun. There, I won all my events, but because I did not turn the registration form on time, it did not count. When I saw the final results, my name was not there, I had been disqualified. Then, I looked for other races around the area online and I found the one in Salida and signed up for it. They allowed me to participate, I won my events there and that is how I advance to State.
How did you feel when you found out you were disqualified at the Alamosa Hersey meet?
At that moment, I was angry with the organizers for not letting me compete for Alamosa at State even when I was the fastest kid in the field. I had to make it to State; it was unfair that they did not let us sign up the day before or the day of the meet, like all the meets in the State. It broke my heart when the organizer told me rules where rules. There were no exceptions and that I was disqualified for not turning in my form on time. A hard way to learn a lesson.
You searched for another meet which was in Salida, Colorado. How far is this place from Alamosa and how did you get there?
Salida is an hour and thirty minutes away from Alamosa. The meet was going to be in the late afternoon. My parents were so nice and they decided they would take me there after work to give it a try.
Then after you earned a spot at State, what was next?
I started planning my training. I committed to train hard 5 times a week and improve on my technique.
Were you training by yourself or do you have a Coach?
Yes, I do have a Coach. His name is Jurgen Themen an Adams State student – athlete and Olympian from Suriname, a country from South America.
How is it training under an Olympian?
Jurgen is an awesome Coach. He is very patience, positive, polite and funny. He always tells me “You can do better” Training for sprints was very hard at the beginning. Sprints are very hard. I have been more of cross country runner. In sprints you have to use your arms different. It is so inspiring to go home search for my Coach and see him in the starting line next to Usain Bolt. Then, in practice he is my Coach. I look up to him.
What motivated you to start training for short distances?
Two years ago, I made it to Hershey State Meet (See 11-13 seconds into video lane 2) and I did not make it to finals. Last year, I was out of the country on vacation, so I missed that opportunity. Looking back, that experience really motivated me to come back and do it again. I had to make a final.
I have to win, I have to make up from my mistakes and learn from them, and so that is exactly what I did.
The 100m I was not very happy as I finished 4th and knew I could do better. Im sure the 100m really helped me in the 200m prelim as I was ready to go and very focus, so I ended winning my heat and that felt great.
7th in Softball Throw
What about finals?
For the 100m, I kept telling to myself “go for the win, go for the win” I tried my hardest and I finished 3rd. For the 200m I knew I could win, because the way I ran prelims, so I just tried to find the other piece in me and go for it. Then, I won.
Seeing my family cheering for me and just thinking “They drove all the way here, I can’t just mess up and not do anything” My Coach could not be there, but he gave me specific instructions. He invested to much time in me and I did not want to disappoint him either. All of this was going through my mind right before the race. As soon as the race started, I left everything behind and just raced my heart out for all of them.
Brayan, this is your very first state finals and a State Title. What does it mean for you?
Yes, fist finals and state title. It’s very exciting. It means a lot; because all the other times I won something it has been with a team in Cross Country. I have never won anything on my own. It feels good to win something with own effort. I still have many things to learn and improve on. I really enjoy doing this. I hope my time is good enough to make it to Hersey National Meet in Pennsylvania.
What is it that you have learned from the whole experience?
I learned from my mistakes.
What would you tell to other kids?
Be positive and imagine what you can do and go for it. Do not let anything or anyone stop you.