When Nathan Boyle digs into the starting blocks he knows he isn’t running alone.
Before the gun goes off and he sprints down the track, Boyle’s mind focuses on his supportive older brothers, Allen and Dylan. He thinks of his mother, Ronda, a single mother who works so hard to take care of her boys.
Then, he thinks of the father he never had the chance to meet.
When Ronda was seven months pregnant with Nathan on Sept. 11, 2001, she went to work at the Pentagon with her husband, Allen.
Allen, never went home that day. He was one of the nearly 3,000 people killed during the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil.
Nathan Boyle, a 13-year-old eighth grader at Butte Central, will have those people on his mind when he runs the 100-meter dash at the USA Track & Field Junior Olympic National Championships July 27-Aug. 2 in Jacksonville, Florida.
First, Boyle could use a little help getting there. A website has been setup to take donations to send Boyle to Florida along with his mother and one brother. (Donate here)
“He’s a good kid,” says Ronda, who works as a grinder at Ranchland Packing Co. “He’s been working hard.”
Three years ago, Boyle’s older brothers both qualified for nationals in both the 100- and 200-meter races. They didn’t get to go to the national meet, however.
That is a fact not lost on Nathan Boyle.
“I really look up to both of my brothers,” Boyle says. “I really look up to my mom.”
Boyle qualified for the prestigious track meet by placing second in the 13-14 age group at the Region 11 meet last month in Orem, Utah.
On the campus of North Florida University, Boyle will be running against the best athletes in the nation at his age group. He will also be racing against the clock.
Boyle’s goal is to beat 12 seconds in the 100, the only race in ran at the regional tournament. He went 12.48 in the finals to place second at regionals. The top five advance.
At the USATF Montana Association Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in Bozeman earlier in the month, Boyle won his age group with a person-record of 12.35.
“His biggest goal is to beat the clock,” Ronda Boyle says. “That’s what I’ve been trying to teach him. We want to get him under 12 seconds. We’ve been working on his form.”
Ronda knows a little bit about track and field. She ran the 400-meter race in high school in Arizona.
The Boyles moved to Butte from Fairfax, Virginia, 10 years ago. After attending Hillcrest and Emerson, Nathan went to Butte Central for seventh grade.
As a sixth grader at Emerson, Boyle won the pentathlon title at the Butte Grade School Track Meet. He also tied the meet a meet record in the 200-meter race set by Zach Osborne in 1995.
This past spring, Boyle ran the 100, 200 and relays for the Maroons.
He played linebacker and running back for Butte Central’s junior high teams last fall, and his style conjured up comparisons to Butte Central track and football star Kyle Harrington. Boyle played for the seventh- and eighth-grade teams, helping the Maroons win the city title in both.
“I remember in one tournament game he had three touchdown (one run was called back) plays over 50 yards in a span if like 12 plays,” says Craig Tippett, Boyle’s football coach. “He is a raw talent that will become a great football player for Maroons.”
Boyle, who is 5-foot-8 with a solid frame, said he likes running over or around defenders.
“Speed is usually my strength,” he says, “but if someone gets in my way I’ll run them over.”
Tippett called Boyle “very coachable.”
“He is good kid with a great attitude given all the stuff that has happen in his life,” the coach says.
Boyle also started the season playing basketball for the Maroons. However, he gave up the sport for the season so he could focus on improving his grades. He plans to play again this school year.
During the summer, Boyle, an avid reader, is focusing on his speed game. Sometimes he trains at Bulldog Memorial Stadium. Other times he trains wherever he can.
“I run around the block and do sprints down the street,” he says. “Sometimes I run when I’m walking my dog.”
Boyle will run in the preliminary round on July 30. The next round is set for July 31, while the finals are scheduled for Aug. 2. He plans to run all three days.
Running with the best in the nation at nationals is something Boyle said will be “nerve wracking,” but he knows he has a secret weapon. He knows he won’t be running alone.
“Before I race I think about him,” Boyle says of his late father. “I think about my brothers. I think about my mom.”
Note: Click here to donate to Nathan Boyle’s trip on gofundme.com.