Former trackster launches running club

Some of the second-year members of Kennedy Sarmiento’s Sarmiento Speed Academy are preparing the first running of the Root Beer mile at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 26, at the Sunnyside track.

SUNNYSIDE — There are all kinds of ways in which individuals can positively impact their communities, and Kennedy Sarmiento has found a unique one — for Sunnyside.

Sarmiento is CEO and head bottle washer for the Sarmiento Speed Academy.

You may have seen his name on a flyer floating around town touting The Root Beer Mile on Saturday, June 2, on the Sunnyside High School track.

If you don’t know the name, you will, if he follows through on his plans.

He wants to impact young lives.

“The best way I know how to do that is through sports and helping kids find a passion in sports that I found in track,” Sarmiento said.

A Sunnyside grad, Sarmiento was a 2-time All-American For Spokane Falls Community College. He went on to Central Washington University and competed in 110 and 400 hurdles, the 800 and in both sprint relays. He specialised in the 400 hurdles.

After some time off, he continues to train and compete unattached in the 400 intermediate hurdles wherever he can find a race. He finished this season with a win at the Portland Twilight Meet. He’ll start training in late June for the next season.

You could say Sarmiento has been hurdling for more than 10 years. He started in fifth grade. It seems as if the hurdles are no longer there. “Eventually it gets to the point where it’s kind of like muscle memory,” he said.

The Sarmiento Speed Academy is not officially a registered club through USA Track and Field, but it soon will be, Sarmiento said.

Sarmiento, 25, works at Anytime Fitness in Sunnyside. It’s the perfect job, relative to his plan. He meets like-minded people there.

The Academy’s beginnings go back to the winter of 2016. Sarmiento’s younger brother Griffey was preparing for his senior season. Sarmiento worked with him and a few friends, including Nathan Maltos, who went on to state meet success as a junior.

“I was supposed to train him again this year, but injuries kept him out,” Sarmiento said.

“My goal is to have more sprinters from Sunnyside train with me,” he added. “The more I train them in the winter the better they’ll be come the spring, when track starts.”

Sarmiento’s first group was 5-6 kids. He took them to indoor meets at Washington and Washington State.

This winter Sarmiento had a turnout of 18 kids, sprinters and distance runners. Membership more than doubled.

“That was when I realized that this was something I could pursue and make happen,” he said. “This winter I had the opportunity to take more athletes to compete indoors at WSU and UW. I also hosted a few intersquad meets among my athletes.”

Sarmiento hopes to some day expand and make the club available for the whole Yakima Valley and athletes of all ages.

“I have much knowledge of this sport,” he said. “I was blessed to have great coaches throughout my collegiate career, including a few coaches who were Olympians.

“I wish there had been someone like myself doing this when I was growing up because I definitely would’ve taken advantage.”

Types of training varies with the ages of the athletes. For younger kids wanting to learn about track and field, the training will be completely different from someone who is in high school getting ready for track in the spring.

This summer, Sarmiento will start including distance runners as they prepare for cross country in the fall.

“I have purchased my own equipment needed to properly train my athletes,” Sarmiento said. “I am currently in the process of purchasing a full set of hurdles as well.”

As a competitor, Sarmiento knows where he stands in the world. He is not among the world’s elite, and the Olympics are “far-fetched and out of reach for him,” but still he competes.

“I just run for the passion of the sport,” he said.

One of the reasons for the upcoming Root Beer Mile is to show the community what the Academy is doing and for pleasure.

“I love what I do, and I enjoy being at track meets,” he said.

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