WEST JORDAN, Utah — A West Jordan High School track star with dreams of running in the Olympics is taking it one race at a time after the Virginia Adidas Indoor Track and Field National Championships where Austin Klingler took home first place in the 800-meter race over the weekend.
While it is one thing for someone with Austin’s skills to say he wants to run the track in the Olympics, it’s quite another to have the enthusiastic support of all his coaches, who his older brother Andrew Klingler said are actively working to help make that dream a reality.
“He is an amazing athlete and is working so hard to get to his dream of running in the Olympics, which is possible with the times he is capable of running,” said Andrew. “His coaches are doing all they can to get his name out there and into colleges and the Olympics in the years to come.”
Growing up, big brother Andrew said Austin, born with natural speed, was always good at sports and was the most athletic kid on every team he played on. Andrew, at the time a senior on the track team, took notice of his little brother’s skills and encouraged Austin to start running track, which he did his freshman year.
Coach Taylor Hatch said the coaches immediately knew after the first week of practice that there was something special about Austin. With inspiration from his older brother Andrew and encouragement from his coaches, he competed in a medley relay and ran the 400 leg, then was placed in the open 400 and got faster and faster each week.
Austin began his love of track his freshman year at UVU Invitational. He ran 53 seconds in the 400-meter, cutting 2 seconds off his previous time. He ended the year the fastest freshman in the state. The next year, Austin placed 5th in the 400-meter at the state championship. Austin was then invited to his first national meet, the Great Southwest Track and Field Championships in New Mexico where he ran the 4-x-200, 400, 4-x-400 and the 200-meter.
Then COVID-19 hit Austin’s junior year, when the young runner was going to be stepping up to the 800-meter, but had to train without coaches and do time trials. Luckily, he had his teammate and friend Riley Burrup, who helped motivate Austin by being a training partner and source of competition during those time trials that they ran together.
In June, he was finally able to start training with his coaches again and was able to get into a club meet. There he ran a 1:51.11, the fastest time ever by a junior in Utah history and it ranked him number 3 returning runner in the nation. He also ended the season breaking the school records in the 400-meter (47.59), 800-meter (1:51.11), and 1600-meter (4:21).