For most high school teenagers, when they think about summer, thoughts of vacation and swimming in the pool dance through their heads. It’s safe to say that participating in athletics other than softball and baseball wouldn’t be even close to the top of that list.
Then there comes the sibling duo of Sadie and Ethan Juergens. The two athletes with a history rooted in running made waves during the regular season, and have more than entertained thoughts of pursuing gold on the track far beyond the high school season. Not a typical summer pursuit by teenagers but this pair has shown themselves to be anything but typical and nothing short of extraordinary. Earlier this month both Sadie and Ethan were two of three A-D-M track and field stars to make their way to the AAU Junior Olympic Championship regional meet in Indianola.
The duo, along with Iowa High School State Meet star Lucas Heitz, continued to follow their passion on the track. All three earned a spot at the table by qualifying in their respective district meet and in the regional round Sadie participated in the 800 and 1500 meter events, Ethan participated in the 800 meter run, all while Heitz took on the 110 and 400 meter hurdles.
Along with the popular Wizard of Oz saying, “We’re not in Kansas anymore,” the three took on some of the best track and field athletes from across the tri-state area of Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. It was certainly a big stage but before the meet began there was a mixed bag of emotions. Sadie Juergens marched into the meet already having graced the Junior Olympic Championship stage last season alongside Keaton Kester. The journey heading into the 2018 regional round felt a little more calm for the elder Juergens sibling.
“Last year I didn’t really know what to expect going into it but this year I feel more comfortable,” said Sadie.
On the other end with Ethan Juergens, the young phenom had not faced such an atmosphere but it was something that father Matt Juergens said he took on quite well.
“Before the AAU meets Ethan hadn’t really been in a situation like that,” began Matt. “With that being said he really kept calm and I’m sure for those who didn’t know him well he looked like there were no nerves at all.”
Throughout what butterflies there were, both Sadie Juergens and Ethan Juergens raised their hands up in victory as Sadie qualified for the championship round in both the 17-18 year old 800 and 1500 meter events while Ethan punched his ticket in the boys 15-16 year old 800 meter run. After a long and crazy high school track season, both Ethan and Sadie continued to put out strong performances, which is a hard task for even the most experienced athlete to accomplish.
“I’m not going to lie, it was really tough,” began Sadie. “First off having to get out of bed in the summer time is hard and all the work it took to get here was hard. It was all worth it though once I crossed the finish line (in both races). That’s why Ethan and I train so hard and put in as much time as we do.”
Sadie came into the 800 meter finals with a season best mark of 2:16.91 and just missed out on that mark in regionals with a time of 2:20.88 which placed her second. Then the distance star took on the 1500 meter run where she also placed second. She came just 12 seconds off of her season best time, clocking in at 5:07.94. Brother Ethan earned his spot at the championship table after an 800 meter time of 2:08.66.
With both Ethan and Sadie raising their hands in victory, it marked a fitting moment that displayed just how close the pair has grown.
“Ethan and Sadie are each other’s biggest supporters,” began Matt Juergens. “They help each other get up early to beat the hot summer days and they’re always pushing each other to go just a bit further. Both of them have found that success is more easily achieved when you have someone else with the same goals helping you.”
Those thoughts were shared by both the Juergens siblings as Sadie went on to further explain.
“It’s so nice being able to share all of this with Ethan,” started Sadie. “We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we really listen to each other. We taken in advice that we give each other which is like having another coach with you to help you become your best.”
The close bond between the two Juergens siblings has definitely been a source for their collective successes. The help from each other has aided impressive outcomes on both sides. As mentioned earlier, Sadie will now be returning to the AAU Junior Olympic Championships for the second straight year. On the side of Ethan Juergens, he impressively made it onto the national AAU scene after a full year of absence from the sport entirely.
“The thing about Ethan is that he really picked the sport back up after not having ran track since middle school,” stated Matt Juergens. “Last year he went out for golf instead of track so he had quite a lot of catching up to do compared to Sadie. Regardless he picked things up quickly and that’s also where having someone like Sadie helping out really benefited him.”
Matt also talked more about Ethan’s decision to come back to the track.
“I think that after last year he realized just how good he was running and how much he enjoyed it,” said Matt. “He’s a talented kid and he’s for sure shown that this summer.”
From Sadie setting multiple personal bests this season to Ethan besting 20 athletes in the regional 800 meter run, there’s no doubt that the two have been key pieces to their respective successes but no matter what, as Sadie was quick to add, their father Matt is also a key piece to the winning puzzle.
“Our dad has also been very helpful for both Ethan and myself,” began Sadie. “He has done a lot to allow us with the opportunities to win. He helps me out with every race by helping me stay on track. For example I break down my 800 into four 200 meter parts and he helps me gauge how well I’m doing at certain parts of the race.”
Just over three weeks separate the two Juergens siblings from a shot at national success but there’s still a lot of hard work needed to be put in before July 28. The biggest challenge as noted by all Juergens’ was keeping themselves dedicated to the cause. Staying both mentally and physically fit and dedicated to the track can be difficult for a high schooler during summer but no need to worry when it comes to the Juergens siblings. In one of the more refreshing responses in history, Sadie said one of her biggest strengths behind her current and future success actually has nothing to do with the sport of track and field.
“The key to my success actually comes from my family, my friends and my faith,” began Sadie. “My faith with God has grown so much and that has gotten me through so many races because I know I’m not doing it for myself, I’m doing it for God. Just knowing that my family is there to support me and that God is there to help me keeps me focused and in a positive mindset.”
Matt Juergens echoed Sadie’s faith and mentioned some uniform changes that have reflected the faith of both Sadie and Ethan.
“On their uniforms you’ll notice AO1 which stands for Audience Of One,” said Matt. “Both Sadie and Ethan have a great connection with God and know that when they succeed it’s because of him and if they don’t they know God will be there to help. It’s really helped both of them calm down and focus knowing that they are not alone.”
The AAU Junior Olympic Games will take place Saturday, July 28 and will run through Saturday, Aug. 4 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Both Ethan and Sadie will begin their respective 800 meter events Monday, July 30 with the preliminary races at 12:15 p.m. Should they advance, they would then move onto the finals at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 1. Sadie’s running in the 1500 meter run will take place at 8 a.m. on Thursday, July 31.