Gone in a Flash: Indian River School Team Runs to Junior Olympics

  • Gunner Currier and Kylie Rogers practice sprinting in the Indian River School parking lot in West Canaan, N.H. on Wednesday, Nov.28,2018. They are getting ready for Junior Olympic competition in Reno, Nev.(Valley News - Rick Russell) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Coach Rick Currier works with Junior Olympic athletes training at Indian River School in West Canaan, N.H. on Wednesday, Nov.28,2018. Ten students are headed for competition in Reno, Nev.(Valley News - Rick Russell) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Junior Olympic athletes, including from left, Tanner Moulton, Bryce Ballou and Marshall Yorke practice how to pace themselves while sprinting in the first eight seconds of a race while training at Indian River School in West Canaan, N.H. on Wednesday, Nov.28,2018.(Valley News - Rick Russell) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/29/2018 11:48:56 PM

West Canaan — Tanner Moulton can remember the nerves he felt at last year’s USA Track and Field Cross Country Junior Olympics.

He was the only member of his Granite State Flash cross country team to qualify for the national race against 9- and 10-year olds. He finished the 3-kilometer race 102nd out of 348 runners at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Fla.

This year, he’s traveling with some reinforcements.

Moulton and nine of his Indian River School classmates, who also run for Granite State Flash, the youth cross country club team that operates out of Manchester, qualified for next Saturday’s 2018 USATF Cross Country Junior Olympics at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park in Reno, Nev.

The boys 11- and 12-year-old division consists of Gunner Currier, 11; Marshall Yorke, 11; and Moulton.

The boys 9- and 10-year-old division features Bryce Ballou, 10; Barnaby Diehn, 10; Jason Washburn, 10; Reece Yorke, 9; and Karson Rogers, 9.

The girls 11- and 12-year-old division includes Kylie Rogers, 12; and Olivia Parla, 11.

The group is headed out west as members of the Granite State Flash, which is operated by Jan and Justin Platt in Manchester. Indian River’s team, run by head coach Rick Currier, makes up more than half of the Flash’s 18 athletes heading to the national race.

“It has definitely grown the last couple of years,” Currier said on Wednesday after an afternoon practice outside the school. “The growth since I’ve started with them in the fall is immense. But even in the last six weeks with the Flash. … It’s paid off. Their determination, their seriousness. The skill has always been there. The consistency sometimes at that age is a question mark but not down there.”

Indian River’s cross country program was organized under Finding Our Stride, a nonprofit organization funded by the Children’s Fund of the Upper Valley that helps turn teachers or parents into running coaches and pairs them with a group of student-athletes from underprivileged elementary and middle schools in the Upper Valley. Since the group’s 2013 founding, interest in running and cross country has grown. Currier signed on to be the team’s coach in 2015; his son, Gunner, is a committed running athlete who has shown potential.

“I feel like we have a core group of four boys in particular — Tanner, Marshall, Gunner and Bryce — that a school this size is not going to experience that very often, at the level they have it,” Currier said. “Now, some of the other kids are seeing that and working to be at that level. We’re going to find out when they move on to the high school how well we can keep funneling kids through.”

Gunner Currier and Moulton started working with the Flash last season; Moulton admitted he was surprised at his spot in nationals.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking. A lot of people,” Moulton said. “There were over 300 people, a ton of kids. … I knew it was going to be tough.

“Our team has done really good,” he added. “Kids from other teams have been really good this year. But our team has pushed through and made it.”

One year later, Moulton and his classmates lived up to their potential at the USATF Regional Cross Country Championships on Nov. 18 at Van Cortlandt Park in New York City.

Ballou had an impressive day, finishing seventh out of 115 runners in the boys 9- and 10-year-old 3K in 11 minutes and 49.2 seconds. Rogers finished 44th (13:01.4), Reece Yorke placed 46th (13:03), Diehn finished 51st (13:09.1) and Washburn placed 85th (14:17.5) — helping the Flash place fourth. The top five teams and top 30 individual finishers qualify for the national race.

Rogers finished 65th (13:07.5) and Parla placed 67th (13:09.5) in the girls 11- and 12-year-old 3K, helping the Flash win the age group by a 26 points. Moulton finished 16th (11:27.9), Marshall Yorke in 54th (12:11.7) and Gunner Currier placed 66th (12:23) in the boys 11- and 12-year-old 3K to help the Flash take fourth place.

“It’s surprised me to have so many new, younger runners,” said Flash coach Justin Platt, who has operated the club with his wife since 2011. “Our goal is to get kids who love to run. … They’ve been great, that group of 10. They’ve had a big impact on team.”

Marshall Yorke joined the squad midway through the season, answering the call from some his teammates looking for extra runners. He had little running experience before this fall, and has found some untapped potential he didn’t know he had. It’ll also the be the experience of a lifetime.

“It’s kind of weird, having to go straight to nationals, going to Nevada,” Yorke said. “The furthest I’ve went is to the Bronx, and that was for our race. This’ll be my first plane flight.”

Finding Our Stride donated $2,500 to help cover travel expenses for the student athletes and a chaperone. The Byrne Foundation, according to Currier, donated $5,000 to help cover costs.

For Currier, the biggest takeaway his athletes can take from the national stage is exposure — a giant event against kids from across the country can help solidify their love for running. It can also get more kids interested in giving it a try.

“I think the biggest thing is, we’re getting athletes from other sports,” Currier said. “They’re coming in and saying, ‘That looks like fun.’ The biggest thing we stress to them, no matter the talent level, is that this has to be fun. I think word is spreading that it’s a chance to be athletic. It’s a chance to have a lot of fun. Now, I think word is going to continue to spread.”

For details on how to donate, go to at dcmemorial@aol.com. Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.

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