This sounds like a made-for-Disney underdog story. You know the one.
The kid gets cut from the team. He works as a custodian to support
himself, and he trains on his own. He sees his old teammates on training
runs around town, but he's not allowed to run with them, so they just
wave in passing.
You know where this is going, right?
The kid comes back and shows them all.
It's cliche, but it's Jon Kotter's story,
every bit of it, and now the kid — a senior law student at Brigham Young
University — is one race away from competing in the NCAA track
championships. He can achieve that with a top-12 finish in the NCAA
Regional track and field championships in Austin, Texas, in two weeks.
If recent weeks are any indication, he is up
to the challenge. At the Cardinal Invitational in California, he placed
fourth in his section of the 5,000-meter run, with a time of 14:00.00. A
month later, he returned to Stanford for the Payton Jordan Invitational
and placed seventh in the 10,000 in a field of college and professional
runners. His time of 28:48.33 makes him the third-fastest in BYU
history at that distance. That's no small feat at a school that has
produced Olympic distance runners Doug Padilla, Ed Eyestone, Henry
Marsh, Paul Cummings, Jason Pyrah and Josh McAdams, to name a few.
\"He's had a nice career,\" says Eyestone, now
BYU's distance coach. \"I'm really proud of him. Especially considering
he was a walk-on and we cut him.\"Kotter was a good but unspectacular runner at Alta High School,
placing third and fifth in the 3,200- and 1,600-meter runs,
respectively, at the state track championships. That drew no interest
from college coaches.
Kotter served an LDS
Church mission in Rome and ran just twice during the next two years,
which was one too many. During his second run, he tripped and fell to
the asphalt, breaking both elbows.
He returned from his
mission in January 2006 and tried out for BYU's cross-country team that
fall. Collegiate teams are limited by the NCAA (read: Title IX and the
federal government) in the number of athletes they can retain on a
roster, even if they want to run without a scholarship. When Kotter
failed to crack the top 20, he was cut from the team. Rules forbade him
even from practicing with the team.
\"I took a few days to
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