Andrew Leuthner went to Converse on a whim.
Despite being in the midst of preparing for Copperas Cove’s first appearance at the Texas 7-on-7 Championships since 2010 and conditioning for the rigors of the impending football season this fall, the dual-sport athlete decided to test his luck.
So, impulsively, Leuthner recently made the trek to Judson’s D.W. Rutledge Stadium just outside San Antonio to compete in the Amateur Athletic Union Region 19 Track and Field Meet.
It paid off.
Leuthner qualified for the upcoming AAU Junior Olympic Games in 100-meter dash and as part of a 400 relay team.
While a simple urge caused him to enter, once on the track, Leuthner’s competitiveness took over.
“Everything I do, I do it with pride and emotion,” the senior said. “Every race is important to me.”
A free safety for the Bulldawgs and area qualifier in track, Leuthner emerged from a 32-person field to advance to nationals in the 100, finishing fourth with a time of 11.08 seconds. Additionally, he unexpectedly joined a relay team from Temple’s Texas Greyhounds as a replacement for a missing member.
Again, his whim paid dividends as the quartet finished third.
“I’ve never worked with them,” Leuthner said.
“We never did any handoffs. We just went to the meet, and I told them, ‘I’m going to put my hand up high. Just put the stick in there.’”
Leuthner will not be the only person representing Copperas Cove in Des Moines, Iowa, when the Junior Olympic Games begin July 28.
Lee Junior High student Kyle Stifflemire qualified for the national meet in the pole vault, clearing 11 feet, 6 inches to place third.
“It is very humbling to be an AAU Junior Olympic qualifier,” he said, “and to be in the same category as other great track athletes that have come before me. It is very humbling.”
After tying his personal record, the eighth-grader feels his best vault is still ahead of him.
“My goal is to get a new personal record,” Stifflemire said.
“So, I’ll be working as hard as possible to get it.”
Leuthner also will be looking to improve in the weeks leading up to the event, and although he has other obligations, like football, consuming chunks of his time, he intends to finally create opportunities for speed work.
“Reaching nationals feels pretty great,” Leuthner said. “I hadn’t been on a track since track season ended in April. ... With the 400 relay, maybe only one of us had been on a track since track season, and we got third against people who have been running on a track this whole time.”
Having already experienced success, Leuthner knows additional training can only further benefit him, but his true concerns about the trip do not involve the track.
“You just can’t think too much about it,” he said. “You just have to go out there and compete.
“But I doubt the weather will be like Texas weather, so that will be interesting.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org