KAYSVILLE — Nathan Kaufusi stands about 5-foot-9 and weighs a “strong” 145 pounds.
His 15-year-old brother is 6-foot-2, 260. Kaufusi is cousins with Bronson and Corbin Kaufusi, both of whom are former Brigham Young University and current NFL football players.
Many of the men in his family are much bigger than he is. Some play rugby.
“I’m kind of the odd one out in my family because my brother, I think, got the Polynesian genes,” Kaufusi said with a smile as he rested between races at last week’s Region 1 track and field championships at Davis High School.
Kaufusi, though, has speed.
The Syracuse High senior sprinter enters this weekend’s state track and field championships with a rare chance to take first place in four races: the 100 meters, the 200, the 400 and as a part of the Titans’ 4x400 relay team.
Kaufusi owns the best times in 6A at those events: the 100 at 10.72 seconds, the 200 at 21.77, and the 400 at 48.19. The Syracuse 4x400 relay team has the best time in the state at 3:24.91.
His 100 and 200 times were aided by a nonlegal wind; however, most of the top 100 and 200 times in the state were wind-aided.
At West Point Junior High, he tried track and field at the encouragement of his grandmother and eventually shattered a district record in the 200.
Since he was lightning fast, practice was, ahem, an afterthought.
“In junior high, I’d go to practice, sit on a lawn chair and watch golf videos with my coach for an hour,” Kaufusi said.
At Syracuse, he benefitted by having seniors like Hunter Woodhall and Tanner Kutterer who took him under their wings.
That’s when Kaufusi learned to work hard — especially with Woodhall, the two-time Paralympic medalist now running at the University of Arkansas, who couldn’t always do the same workouts as everyone else due to his prosthetic legs.
“Whenever we’d do bleachers, (Woodhall) couldn’t do it, obviously, and he ended up having to do another workout that ended up being much harder than stairs. I never wanted to do stairs anyway and Hunter would always be like, ‘Do this with me so I’m not alone,’ and in my head I’d be like, ‘Heck yeah, I’m getting out of bleachers’ — but I did not know what I was in for,” Kaufusi said.
What he was in for was a workout that involved running 12 separate 200-meter dashes in a short period of time. The first time he did it, Kaufusi threw up after nine and Woodhall told him he could be done after 10.
Kaufusi ran his last one and Woodhall ran two more just for fun.
It was all painful, but worth it. Kaufusi is headed to Utah State — where many family members on his mom’s side have attended — to run track and field in the fall.
Kaufusi’s times began plummeting his sophomore year, all the way to the level they’re at today — a level that attracts the spotlight.
“He’s never ran a disappointing race. Even the few times he’s been beaten in his career, he’s done phenomenal,” Syracuse head coach Brian Berrong said. “The guys that are beating him are special athletes themselves.”
A lot of kids, Berrong said, can be up and down like a roller coaster. Kaufusi isn’t one of them. Kaufusi is mentally tough, he said, and therefore consistent each meet.
He’s like a straight line — kind of like the lines one runs between in the 100-meter dash.
BOYS TRACK & FIELD STATE PREVIEW
Dozens of boys athletes from area schools have a chance to take first place in their events this weekend along with Kaufusi. Here’s a look at some of them.
200 meters: In 5A, Box Elder’s Nash Lewis has the second-fastest 200 meter time at 22.15 seconds, 0.28 seconds behind the top time.
400: In 5A, Bountiful’s Jace Jensen has a season-best 49.67 mark in the 400, which is second-fastest in the state but more than one second behind the fastest.
3200: Northridge’s Max Wehrli owns the top 6A time in the 3200.
110 meter hurdles: Fremont’s Kendrick Bolos co-owns the best 110 hurdles time in 6A (15.02 seconds) and Davis’ Cole Noriega checks in at 15.05. In 4A, Bear River’s Devon Roberts clocked a wind-aided 14.73 for the best time in the classification, but even his wind-legal 15.04 is still the top time.
300 hurdles: In 6A, Syracuse’s Trevor Burrell has the second-best time (39.09), sitting 0.13 seconds behind the top time. In 5A, Bountiful’s Jace Jensen leads the classification with a 39.30 mark. In 4A, Bear River’s Devon Roberts has the best time in the state (38.32) by more than one second.
4x100 relay: Syracuse (42.56) and Davis (43.02) own the top two times in 6A, respectively. Morgan High has the best 3A time (43.68).
4x400 relay: Syracuse owns the best 6A time. Roy has the third-best 5A time.
Shot put: Bonneville’s Lucas Walton threw 52-08, which is third-best in 4A this season and 2 feet behind the top mark.
Discus: In 6A, Weber’s Ryan Johnson threw 143-10 at the Region 1 championships, but that’s a distant second in the state rankings. Morgan’s Ryker Keele has the second-best 3A mark at 135-04.
Javelin: Syracuse’s Kaden Gollaher owns the best 6A mark in the javelin at 199-04, with Titans teammate Samuel Hansen third with 180-08. Box Elder’s Taelor Wright has the second-best 5A mark at 168-04, but with a lot of ground between him and the top mark.
High jump: Fremont’s Logan Tittle and Davis’ Kale Thomas both jumped 6-07 at the region meet, which is 3 inches behind the 6A best.
Pole vault: Farmington’s Dylan Ashby has the second-best 5A mark at 11-04, 7 inches behind the state-best mark.
Long jump: Morgan’s Tyson Hurd has the second-best long jump mark (21-05) and it’s just 1 3/4 inches behind the top mark in 3A. Layton Christian’s Dominique Ramkison has the second-best 2A long jump mark at 20-10.