Up the hill from the Gig Harbor High School track, Seville Hering was standing on the property of the Boys and Girls Club, keeping a safe distance and looking down on what was happening on the high school’s track.
“Mom, what are we doing?” Hering’s two young daughters asked.
It was a fair question. Hering’s son, and first child, Jurrian, was starting his track career as a freshman at Gig Harbor High.
“I was that crazy mom, thinking, ‘I don’t want anybody messing with my kid,’” Hering said. “I know what kind of talent he has.”
There are plenty of parents who probably think that, and just as many are off base in overestimating their kids’ talent. But Hering may be a bit more justified than most, given her track background.
Seville Hering is one of the best high school track talents Washington has ever produced. Formerly Seville Broussard, she attended Walla Walla High School in the early 1990s, where she set school records in the 100-meter hurdles, the 300 hurdles, the 200-meter and the high jump. Her 42.17 seconds 300-meter hurdle time was the all-time state record for 12 years and still ranked in the top-five all time.
She went on to compete at Eastern Washington University, where she broke six school records, was an NCAA All-American and earned an invitation to the 2000 Olympic Trials.
Surprisingly, Jurrian’s athletic genes don’t stop there. His father, Todd Hering, was also a high school track star in Washington. A sprinter at Pullman High, Hering won the 100- and 200-meter state titles in his senior season in 1994.
Jurrian must thank them all the time for those genes, right?
“Oh, definitely,” he said, with a laugh. “I got very blessed with them as my parents.”
Todd recognizes that genetics play a role in Jurrian’s natural athletic ability, but is quick to give his son credit for the work he puts in.
“Genetics don’t get you where you are now,” he said. “You need to work. We get family and friends — I know they mean well — but they’ll say things like, ‘No wonder you’re where you are, because of your parents.’ They mean well, but he’s doing this. We don’t want to shortchange him. Genetics play a factor, we’re not naïve, but it only gets you so far. Athletes that get by in middle school and early in high school just on their athleticism but never learn the work ethic — by the time they’re seniors, they quit because everyone passes them.”
Where has Jurrian Hering’s work ethic gotten him, as a high school junior now? He took first earlier in the month in the 100-meter at the Oregon Relays against some of the top competition in the Pacific Northwest and took second in 110-meter. He has a strong chance to win state titles in those events this spring.
“I’ve never had an athlete like him,” said Gig Harbor track coach Kevin Eager, who remembers watching Jurrian’s parents run high school track at the start of his coaching career. “He can hurdle and sprint. Not that many kids are actually good at both. … It takes an enormous amount of technical work to be a hurdler. You have to get training for both. We never wanted to put limits on what he could do.”
It probably helps that in addition to Eager, and his wife, Kristi, who coaches the hurdlers at Gig Harbor High, Jurrian Hering has two coaches at home, with plenty of experience as well. The life lessons he has learned have been just as valuable, as well.
The Hering family lives on a farm, so Jurrian has to muck stalls and feed the horses, sheep and goats before leaving for school ever morning — and when he gets home in the afternoon.
“You look at how hard he’s practicing,” Seville Hering said. “That’s our lifestyle. It’s not a familiar trait to everyone. The work on the farm carries over.”
Jurrian Hering remembers a story his mom told him about her track days.
“She was at some big invitational, hit a hurdle and went down in the middle of the race,” Hering said. “Things kind of happen. Mistakes happen. You have to get back up and keep pushing. When I get knocked down in life, I’ve got get back up and keep pushing.”
Seville Hering knew Jurrian would be special from an early age.
“He walked at 10 months, he was running by time he was a year old,” she said. “He was always climbing on stuff, I noticed. He has no fear.”
And if anxiety or doubt has crept into Hering’s mind as a high school track star, he can thank his mom for learning to cope with it.
“We work on relaxation techniques,” she said. “We work on breathing techniques. When your brain lacks oxygen, you become irrational, fearful. But he’s humble, he’s chill. He gets some butterflies but he handles them really well. It makes him rise to the occasion. In my instance, the butterflies were debilitating. But he loves the big meets. He just thrives.”
If Hering got the hurdling ability from his mom, he got the sprinting ability from his dad. If Todd could go back in a time machine and square off against his son, who would win?
Jurrian’s recent 100-meter time at the Oregon Relays, 10.81, is slightly faster than Todd’s state-title winning time: 10.86.
“My (personal record) is still faster than his,” Todd said, with a laugh. “My senior year versus his junior year, I think I would’ve still beat him.”
The Herings try to not overcoach Jurrian. When he has an off-day, they give him the space he needs. And more than anything, they try not to put too much pressure, or project unfair expectations onto him.
“It’s hard,” Todd Hering said.. “Sometimes we don’t stay true to that, we’ll give a little coaching here or there. He understands. He’s got a good head on his shoulders. But for the most part, we’re just encouragers. I coached high school and college track, so I know a lot about a lot but he’s our kid, and we have to temper some of that.”
Mostly, the Hering family is proud.
“We always saw the potential,” Todd Hering said. “He always saw it. It’s great to see hard work paying off. He’s worked his butt off. It’s very gratifying. We know all the sacrifices and hard work that he’s made.”
The sky is the limit for Jurrian, it seems.
“He has stepped up his game, in terms of focus,” Eager said. “He comes to get better on a daily basis. He’s being more consistent and being mindful of trying to get better, being in the moment with the drills and the workouts.”
Jurrian Hering knows all the things his parents have accomplished. But he wants to carve out his own path.
“I’m just trying to be the best me that I can be,” he said.