BOISE — Idaho Dash Track Club coach James Honell started out with just five kids, two of them were his own sons, in the spring of 2013.
Six years later, he has more than 80 kids and a fourth consecutive USATF National Junior Olympic Championships (July 22-28) to prepare for. The year-round 7-18 youth track club that practices five days a week during the summer and fall, has already produced five All-Americans and will look to add more with 35 of its kids set to compete at the Junior Olympic Games in Sacramento on Monday.
“It’s been a blast to watch it grow,” Honell said. “It’s been quicker than I thought but not quicker than I dreamed.”
Honell had just completed his first season as the jumps coach at Bishop Kelly when a couple of the team’s throwers approached him. They asked Honell if there was some way to keep throwing over the summer. The innocent question spawned an idea in Honell’s head.
Idaho Dash Track Club was born.
The inaugural practice was held at Bishop Kelly the Monday after the IHSAA State Track and Field Championships in May 2013. Bishop Kelly’s Zach Andrew, who is now at Oklahoma State, Payton Pfautch, Noah Elia and James and Jason Honell were the only kids to show up that day. They were also the only ones there the entire summer.
But slowly, word got out. The group went up to 25 members by Winter 2014 for the indoor season before nearly doubling that number the following summer. The club now has 85 kids, representing 20 different schools, and seven coaches, including Honell.
“It’s really so much more than a team. Everyone’s like family,” said Julia Nixon, who came over from another club her freshman year. “All the older kids, we know all the little kids by name and we’re friends with them and hang out with everyone.”
Idaho Dash burst onto the national scene when Mountain View High alum and Utah Valley’s Adrian Jones became the first All-American in club history in the 2,000-meter steeplechase. Mountain View graduate and University of Oregon’s Tori Sloan (high jump and heptathlon) and Mountain View alumnus Laurell Fink (heptathlon) both earned All-American honors the following year. Ex-Bishop Kelly star Troy Colleran, who is now at Amherst College in New York, kept the All-American streak going in the decathlon.
Colleran is one of 30 collegiate athletes to come out of Idaho Dash, and many, including Sloan, come back in the summer to help coach the next group.
“The nice thing about Dash is that no one ever really leaves the family once you’re a part of it,” sprinter Jasmine Devers said. “We go off to compete in college, come back, and it’s like we never went anywhere.”
That group includes reigning state champions Devers and Ashley Campbell.
Devers, who just graduated from Mountain View, swept the 5A sprint titles (100, 200) this past spring. The Eastern Oregon-bound sprinter wasn’t even the fastest on her own team two years ago. But she just won four titles (100, 200, 4x100, 4x400) at the USATF Region 11 Junior Olympic Championships on June 22 and is aiming to do so again, only at nationals this time.
Campbell, a soon-to-be senior at Middleton High, never gave running the 400 any thought until Honell put her in the 4x400 last summer. She was the 400 state champion for 4A in the spring and a regional winner in the same event last month.
She will run in the 200, 400, 4x100 and 4x400 at nationals and plans to sign with Northwest Nazarene later this year.
“I wouldn’t be where I’m at without this club,” Campbell said. “The workouts here are a totally different thing. They are a lot shorter, but faster paced. They actually give you percentages to hit and give you a lot of that one on one training, where in high school, they just tell you to go run a lot of times.”
Nixon, who was a three-time state placer in the long jump and 100 and 300 hurdles will be there, as well. She will participate in the 100 and 400 hurdles, the long jump and the heptathlon.
Nixon missed out on being an All-American last year in the heptathlon by 102 points and two spots. She finished 10th.
Other names to keep an out for are 13-14’s Sabunay Machu, Kennedy Patterson, Abigail Krzemien, along with Timberline’s Gideon Coprivnicar.
The weeklong USATF National Junior Olympic Championships will mark the final meet of the season for the Idaho Dash. But the club will regroup at the end of the high school cross country season in late October for indoor.
And there should be a lot more than five kids there this time around.
“I want to be the best there is in the area and the Pacific Northwest,” Honell said. “I want to continue to compete nationally, year in and year out. I want kids to develop from the time that they’re 11 years old to come through and have success. So by the time that they’re 17-18, they’re sitting on the podium as national champs or All-Americans.”
For more information go to idahodashtrack.com