Gering’s Vaughn at Olympic trials
     2016-07-07      By Frank Marquez    editor@geringcitizen.com
Courtesy photo Sara Vaughn, third from left, competes at the Portland Track Festival, June 11-12, where she ran 4:10.1 in the 1500m.  
Gering’s own Sara (Ensrud) Vaughn will have run the preliminary heat for the 1500m in the Olympic Trials Track and Field competition in Eugene, Oregon, on July 7, Thursday night.

Descending from tough athletic stock, her mother Alicia (Morrison) Warren (Class of 1986) and her father the late Davey Ensrud (Class of 1985), ran cross country and track. Davey also wrestled.

Sara, who may return to Gering next year for the Don Childs Memorial Five Mile Run during Oregon Trail Days, for now, has sights set on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. In 2014, at her 10-year class reunion, the 5-foot-1 Sara was the event’s first female overall winner with a time 30.44, edging men’s top finisher Cole Wellnitz, who stepped across the finish at 31.40.

After four years at the University of Colorado, in Boulder, where she earned degrees in Psychology and Spanish, and while competing for the Buffs, Sara received All-American honors and followed a successful collegiate career by earning a spot on the 2011 World Championships team in the 1500m, and was an Olympic Trials Finalist in 2012. She continues to train in Boulder with the Boulder Track Club, and fellow elite runner, teammate and husband Brent.

“The training for this Olympic Trials has been vastly different than four years ago,” Sara said. The couple moved back home to Boulder (Colorado) in 2013. Since then they have had another child – 10-month-old Cassidy, who joins sisters Kiki, 9, and Calia, 6. Following in their sports minded ways, Sara said Kiki qualified for the Colorado state swim meet to be held later this month.

“The kids really love running, but the older two are both involved in swimming,” Sara said. “So, as soon as I’m back from Eugene, that’ll be the focus of the family.” Brent, meanwhile joins Sara at the trials, while the girls spend time with their grandmother.

Sara has been working full-time as a Realtor with Sotheby’s in Boulder, while Brent started his own business in 2013. “Running is something I’ve kept in my life because, at this point, I still really enjoying training hard,” Sara said. “But this year, I’m not feeling half the pressure I was in 2012, when our main focus was on running and performing. I think this gives me a really good advantage going into the trials. I can breathe a little easier on the starting line, knowing there is life beyond running.”

Sara was new to running as a freshman at Gering, it didn’t take her long to realize she loved it. “In my freshman year at the state track meet, that’s when I knew I wanted to run in college and hopefully beyond. I’ve dreamed of being an Olympian since I can remember.
(Gering Coach Dave Nash) was the best first running coach a kid could ask for,” Sara said. “He always made sure we were enjoying our sport, which can be so monotonous. And, he taught me how to be serious when the time came (before races).”

This track season, Sara said she raced a lot, because she had been away from training and racing in the previous year due to maternity leave. Each race has prepared her for the trials. She ran about half a dozen 1500m races and one 800m race in Boulder, with the preparation coming in daily and weekly training.

In a day in the life of Sara, while the kids headed off to school, and the baby was picked up by a nanny, she spent 2-3 hours on the road or in the gym, lifting weights or running drills. Then, while the baby napped in the afternoon, and the older two practiced swimming or gymnastics, she went for a second run. On occasion, she pushed a stroller. By evening, after a healthy dinner, she worked out for a few more hours while Brent was home with the girls. It was “Rest, Repeat,” she said.

“I’ve had a lot of sources of inspiration, but to be completely honest, most of my motivation comes from within. I like to challenge myself and see what happens if I give it everything. I’ve gotten faster every year that I’ve run. I know at some point that won’t happen anymore, but for now, that’s my main goal. Just keep improving. At this level, one second in the 1500m is huge. I also am constantly reminded that I’m setting an example for my girls. I really don’t need any motivation beyond that.”

Tune in to watch Sara on NBC, NBCSN and the NBC Sports app. All times Mountain Daylight Time:

1500 Prelim - Thursday, July 7 at 7:26pm

1500 Semi Final - Friday, July 8 at 6:03pm

1500 Final - Sunday, July 10 at 6:00pm

For more information visit olympics.si.com/olympics/us-olympic-trials-watch-online-live-stream-track-and-field.

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