HANCOCK COUNTY — A family activity has boosted three Hancock County children all the way to the Junior Olympics.
The Tragessers, a family that lives near the borders of Hancock, Shelby and Rush counties, love to run.
That affection led to Taylor (10), Chloe (9) and Landon (7) qualifying for the 2019 USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Cross-Country Championships to be held in Madison, Wis., on Dec. 15.
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The three youngsters go to Morristown Elementary School. Taylor is a fourth-grader. Chloe is in third grade and Landon is in first grade.
“It’s really just kind of surreal,” mother Ashley Tragesser said. “We never pictured the kids going to the Junior Olympics. They just started doing it because we all like running. I had no idea how they would do when they first went to state.”
The family runs together frequently. Father, Joe, was a cross-country runner in middle school and high school. He’s been a runner for over 20 years. Ashley started running as an adult and the children have joined in, including a fourth child, Presley, a 3-year old, who ran her first 5K (kilometer) race this past summer.
“All of us just really enjoy it as a family activity together.” Ashley said. “We love the exercise and we love being outdoors. It’s something where we are all spending time together.
“We’re competitive, too, and like to race against each other.”
To celebrate the upcoming new year, the family plans on running 2,020 miles, a feat Ashley said, with their routine, shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.
All of them have run in 5K races. The Junior Olympic races will be 3K for Taylor’s and Chloe’s age group and 2K for Landon.
“We like to exercise and have fun,” Taylor said of her family’s hobby.
Taylor is leading the pack, but her brother and sisters aren’t too far behind.
This summer in the Ice Cream 5K to benefit Riley Children’s Hospital at IU Health, the group nicknamed by the family as the Tragesser Trio finished first, second and third, with Taylor leading her siblings to the finish line. They ran in the Indiana Pacers 5K, and Taylor finished third among the female runners. The Pacers race marked Presley’s second 5K run, which she ran in 34 minutes.
They also ran in the 500 Festival mini-mini kids run and a 5K sponsored by the Indianapolis Colts.
In the Colts’ run, Taylor and Chloe were second and fifth, respectively, among 118 girls 13-and-under. Landon was sixth out of 175 boys 13-and-under. It was Presley’s first 5K.
Ashley added that with Presley now in the running mix, they will be coming up with a new nickname for the growing group.
The trio ran in track and field state and regional meets last summer, but going to nationals in California was too costly. It has been made easier on the family during the cross-country season with both state and regional races in Indiana. Plus, the Fayette County Foundation — from Ashley’s hometown of Connersville — are sponsoring the group’s trip to Wisconsin.
At each cross-country competition the top 30 advance to the next round. In the state meet held in Columbus at Ceraland Park, Taylor finished fourth. Landon was 17th and Chloe placed 27th. At the regional, held at Eagle Park in Brown County, Taylor was second, followed by Landon (12th) and Chloe (20th).
Earlier in the fall, Taylor ran against some older girls as part of the Morristown Junior High cross-country team. She won five races and had a second and a third in two of the larger invitationals.
Her best 5K time is 21:09. That would have placed her fourth in the Hancock County high school meet and 12th and 16th, respectively, in the Mt. Vernon Sectional and Rushville Regional.
“(My brother and sister) always try to keep up with me, but I always run faster,” Taylor said. “I’ve been running since I was 3- or 4-years old. My dad ran cross country (in school) and I’d like to beat him some day.”
That day may come, but for now, the Tragesser Trio will be setting their sights on a big race in Wisconsin.
“It’s exciting that all three kids qualified this year and they all can share that together,” Ashley said.