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High school sports 20 for 20: Emery sprinter Braiden Ivie keeping focused amid COVID-19 frustration in hopes he can still chase state records

Ivie posted the state’s fastest times in the 100 and 200 meters as a junior, and the future BYU sprinter had eyes set on trying to break state records his senior year.

Emery’s Braiden Ivie (center).
Photo courtesy Jim Ballard

Editor’s Note: For 20 days in April, the Deseret News will profile 20 elite high school athletes from the 2020 graduating class and how they’re coping with the premature end of senior life on and off the field.

CASTLE DALE — For over a decade from 2000 to 2012, the boys track 200 meter state record sat untouched at 21.50.

From 2013 to 2018, however, the record was lowered on four different occasions, first by Woods Cross’ Jacopo Spano, followed by Provo’s Chase Heiner, Syracuse’s Hunter Woodhall and most recently by Delta’s Dallin Draper in 2018.

Emery’s Braiden Ivie, currently the fastest high school athlete in Utah, had his sights set on trying to break the coveted state record this year, but those pursuits are in jeopardy because of COVID-19.

“It’s definitely really frustrating. Everything’s on hold. It’s annoying and hard,” said Ivie.

A year ago, Ivie posted the fastest times in Utah in both the 100 meters (10.70) and 200 meters (21.63). Work still needed to be done to break the state records of 10.47 and 21.12 in those two events, work that Ivie diligently kept up with during the winter and leading into the track season.

Even now, with school and high school sports suspended, he’s trying to keep to the same schedule in the event the suspension is lifted after May 1.

“I’m training on my own, I’m still staying in shape, I’m lifting and running consistently, I have a schedule that I keep for myself. I am staying prepared for that if it opens back up,” said Ivie.

The preparedness isn’t just a pride thing either.

Ivie has a scholarship offer on the table from BYU — something he plans on signing — but he wanted to wait until after the track season to avoid complacency his senior season. The amount of that scholarship was predicated on how much he could lower his times during the 2020 track season, but so far he’s only had one chance to reach those benchmarks.

Each of those times in the 100 and 200 meters seemed reachable to Ivie, but he might not get a chance to show his progress.

Ivie was among several high school athletes who managed to get a couple competitive races under their belt at the Snow Canyon Invitational back on March 13-14 before the sports shutdown.

News of the UHSAA suspension broke the day before the meet, and Ivie said it definitely raised the intensity for all of the athletes, as everyone recognized it might be the only meet of the season.

Ivie proceeded to run a 10.82 in the 100 meters followed by a 21.59 in the 200 meters. He believes the 200 is his specialty.

“For some reason that has always been my race. I do pretty good in the 100, but the 200 has always seemed to be better for me. Open with 100 and do fine, … for some reason when 200 rolls around that clicks for me,” said Ivie, who credited his club track coach Sean May for much of his speed success.

He also said that Draper, the athlete whose record he’s chasing, has been a big influence as well. Back when Ivie was a sophomore and Draper was a senior, the two would compete together at a lot of the same meets, and a friendship was forged for the two future BYU runners.

“Me and Dallin are really good friends, trained together on a club team. I got to know him pretty well. I spent a lot of time with him. I went to a lot of the same meets that he went to for indoor season and outdoor season,” said Ivie. “He would teach me at meets. He’d come find me and have me warm up with him. He would teach me a lot of the mentality, so he actually kind of coached me.”

Fast forward to this year’s shortened season, and there’s an obvious camaraderie among all senior athletes who hope they get another chance to compete at the high school level. Ivie said he chats often with some of his Emery teammates, along with Grand’s Eli Hazlett, Salem Hills’ Caleb Jackson and Westlake’s Matt Masias as they all try to motivate each other to keep running and stay in shape.

“I am holding out hope that we’ll be able to participate in region and state so I can go out with the bang,” said Ivie.