Two local runners among nation’s bestJan 14, 2021 05:30PM ● By Catherine Garrett
Bountiful’s Simon Barlow earned All-American status with a 24th-place finish in the 13/14 division at the AAU Cross Country Nationals Dec. 5 in Tallahassee, Florida, while Kaysville’s Jonas Clay helped his 11/12 team to a second-place finish.
“It felt good to finish that well on a really fast course,” Simon said of his personal-best time of 12:42. “I wanted to make it into the top 25 (after finishing 60th last year) so it felt really really nice. I knew I was going fast and I could have kept going. When I finished, I was shocked at my time.”
“That time is a Davis County Race Cats club record and may never be broken,” Race Cats president Jami Caldwell said. “It’s an amazing time.”
Jonas Clay ran a personal-best 10:49 for a 3K and finished 11th in his age group and 43rd overall while helping his team place second. “Jonas has run some really impressive times the last couple of years and holds several of our club records,” Caldwell said.
“It was way faster at the start and I got caught in the back with a bunch of people, but I did feel like I had an advantage being from Utah because running there seemed easier than where we live,” Jonas said.
Also on the second-place team were area runners Luke Cutting, Alex Bybee, Hunter Hurl, Max Martinez, and Jack Cutting.
The course at Appalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee is a dedicated cross country course with a downhill start and finish. “The boys certainly have gravity in their favor, but it’s also helpful to train at our elevation and then run at sea level,” Simon’s mom Lisa Barlow said. “It was a fast crowd of runners and they had to bring their ‘A’ game.”
At the USATF state meet held Nov. 28 in Spanish Fork, Barlow took third in the 13/14 division while other top Davis County Race Cats runners were Bentley Hale (third, 8 and under), Clay (sixth, 11/12), Jonny Reed (seventh, 13/14), James Peters (11th, 13/14), Izan Mendez (13th, 11/12), Emmett Wright (14th, 9/10), Thomas Snow (17th, 11/12), Gibson McMullin (22nd, 13/14) and Luke Baughman (28th, 11/12)
“These runners are so awesome,” Caldwell said.
Simon, the son of Jeremy and Lisa Barlow of Bountiful, has been running since the second grade when he participated in his parents’ “Let Me Run” program that they ran for fourth through sixth graders. “The first time he ran, he beat almost every single person and they were much older than him,” Lisa Barlow said.
Simon then ran track with the South Davis Rec. Center and participated in state twice before he began competing with the Race Cats. He has steadily improved and enjoyed success since and at nationals this year his first mile tied his PR of 5:09.
“Running’s kind of my thing. It’s my first passion,” the 14-year-old said. “I’m always trying to take it to the next step in finding my limit, breaking it and finding a new limit.”
The eighth-grader at Millcreek Junior High said he wants to run for Bountiful High like his older siblings have done the last several years and help the Braves “bring home a trophy.”
“He has an effortless, gliding gait that is just in him,” Lisa Barlow said. “That gift is solely his gift.”
Jonas, son of Steve and Monica Clay of Kaysville, got into running at 6 years old although Monica said it was actually long before that in his toddler years that she noticed his endless energy and felt he would be good at running. At his first meet for the Layton City program, he wanted to run the 1600 meters.
“He had never run a mile before, but he did it, he ran the whole thing and was among the top finishers,” Monica Clay said. “The longer he runs, the better he does.”
Two years later, he took first in state in the 400m, 800m and 1600m, having never lost a race the whole season. When he was 10, he placed first in all age groups at the St. Patrick’s Day 5K in Layton.
“We are so proud of Jonas and what he’s accomplished,” Steve Clay said. “I think to be a great distance runner you have to be really self-motivated. We told Jonas early on that he had to drive the train, but we’d do our best to help facilitate him reaching his goals.”
The 11-year-old has his sights set on running collegiately.
“Running has made me believe what my coaches have taught me – that I can keep going even when I’m tired and do hard things,” the sixth grader at Kayscreek Elementary said. “When I’m having a hard time in school, I know I can get through it because I’ve done that in running.”