Long distance running has been a Derick family tradition, and two sons of accomplished area runner Jim Derick of Big Flats are making their mark on a national level.
Bryce Derick, 12, was among 89 champions crowned at the USATF National Youth Indoor Track & Field Championships this past weekend in Prince George’s County Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, Md. The event is the highest level of Track and Field competition in the United States.
The Horseheads Intermediate school sixth grader earned two-time All-American honors at the event that featured more than 1,300 athletes. All-America honors go to the top six finishers of each event.
“We are very proud of him and to see the determination in him and how willing he is to dedicate himself to the sport,” said Bryce’s mother Sue Derick, who runs the local PreFo youth track club. “It’s really a big deal and something he will be able to take with him all through college.”
Bryce Derick finished third in the 3,000-meter run in the boys 11-12 year-old division on Saturday and followed that up by winning the 1,500-meter 11-12 Division race Sunday in a time of 4 minutes, 54.86 seconds.
“I thought it was pretty cool,” said Bryce of his accomplishments. “It was real nerve-racking because there was so many people in the stands.”
Bryce’s older brother Gavin, 14, qualified for the national 3,000 in his age group, where he finished 11th. He is a Horseheads High School freshman.
Athletes qualified to the national meet by placing in the top six in one of five youth zone championships. Bryce won both the 1,500 and 3,000 races in the Northeast Zone Championships on Feb. 24 in Toms River, N.J. Gavin qualified for the national meet with a third place in the 3,000 in his age group.
“Jim is an accomplished runner,” said Fred Collins, who has four kids who run in the PreFo club. “His son (Bryce) is following in his father’s footsteps.”
Bryce has been running competitively since he was seven and on the national level for three years.
He has run in the USATF national championships in both the Outdoor and Cross Country meets in 2011 and 2012. The Indoor championships marked the first time he reached All-American status.
“It was really good for him to go onto that national level,” Sue Derick said. “It gives him incentive to work harder and stay focused and has really raised his competitive level.”
His father, an Avoca native, began running at 13 and developed into one of the most successful runners from the area. The 47-year-old was a two-time All-American runner at Alfred State. He is a Hall of Fame member at Alfred.
The Derick brothers grandparents, Jean and Alton Derick, also run competitively as well as two of their uncles.
Sue Derick, 48, didn’t start running competitively until she was 39. She started up the youth division of the Rogue running club last spring. It has grown to more than 80 members and was recently renamed the PreFo club.
It is named after famed American middle and long-distance runner Steve Prefontaine, who was fourth in the 5,000 meters at the 1972 Olympic games and died in an auto accident in 1975 at 24.