Juniors Wrap Up Season with Exciting Races at US Short Track Junior Championships
by Caitlin Moyer
US junior athletes competed in one of the final races of the season after an unpredictable year. The US Short Track Junior Championships took place March 19-20, 2021 at the Utah Olympic Oval, in Kearns, UT
The competition opened with Men’s and Women’s 1500m and 500m events on Friday and concluded with the Men’s and Women’s 1000m race on Saturday. The Championships were highlighted by Brandon Kim (Fairfax, VA) sweeping all three events with times of (2.19,837), (41,577) and (1.26,884) respectively.
In the Men’s 1500m, Kim was followed by Wesley Park (Irvine, CA) (2.21,151) and Alec Sklutovsky (Middlefield, CT) (2.21,348).
Choi earned the title in the 500m with a new personal best time of (44,208). She was followed by Berhorst (48,787) and Lee (48,860).
“I felt a little nervous going into this weekend because I haven’t raced since the 2020 Youth Olympic Games & Junior World Championships, but I also felt pretty confident in my abilities. I was disappointed with how I finished in the 1500m, but was happy that I was able to bounce back in the 500m with a new personal best and a silver in the 1000m. This season was challenging. I suffered from a back injury a couple weeks prior to the World Championships selections therefore decided not to compete. On top of that, I also had to juggle between school work and training. But overall, I’ve learned a lot about myself and I'm hungry for the challenges coming ahead.” said Choi.
The event wrapped up on Saturday with the Men and Women’s 1000m races where Kim was crowned US Junior Champion in the 1000m followed by Park (1.27,704) and Sklutovsky (1.27,854). Choi claimed her second title with a time of (1.31,989) and was followed by Berhorst (1.32,384) and Eunice Lee (Bellevue, WA) (2.08,378).
“This season was definitely a difficult one to go through...But heading into this weekend's competition I was confident in my training, the coaching I would receive, and the support I had from my fellow teammates,” said Wesley Park. “In my head I was constantly reminding myself of this church message I heard earlier this year. The main focus was ‘Faith>Fear,’ which for me translated to this situation as to have faith in what God has in store for me heat by heat, instead of fearing how difficult it might be. After this competition I definitely learned a lot and I’m thankful for having so many people to support me along the way!”
With a sweep of all three events, Brandon Kim was crowned the Men’s Overall US Champion. Wesley Park and Ray Shim completed the podium on the Men’s side. Hailey Choi was crowned the Women’s Overall US Junior Champion and was followed by Jenell Berhorst and Grace Lee.
“I’m glad the races played out so well his weekend,” Kim said. “It’s been a tough year with most of the national and international competitions being cancelled, but I’m thankful we were still able to train. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Olympic season.”
Short Track Program Director Andréa Do-Duc said she thoroughly enjoyed watching everyone race at US Junior Championships. “We had some exciting and tight races with our junior athletes, with many of them getting personal bests. It was great to see them compete again and I’m looking forward to seeing their progress in the years to come.