Before starting seventh grade, Cyrus entered a powerlifting competition for beginners. “I just got into it — the crowd, just having more people who lift like me in the community,” recalls Cyrus, whose dad, Matthew, had introduced him to the sport. That year, Cyrus set two world deadlift records for his age group. But practicing when his dad was at work was lonely. Last fall, he invited friends from the wrestling and football teams and their younger siblings to lift with him, and he has worked with them on using safe techniques. “We have better friendships,” says Cyrus. “It makes us all stronger, together.”
Last February, competing in the 132-pound weight class, Cyrus set a world deadlift record for his age group (425 pounds). In April, in the 148-pound division, he set a national deadlift record (419 pounds).
The 2020 Olympics are in Japan, and Cyrus, now a 15-year-old sophomore, wants to be there.
“He is a freak of nature, athletically,” says his wrestling coach, Patrick Kim. “He’s a coach’s dream as far as character goes. You don’t doubt that [he] is going to be successful in life. That’s a really good feeling to have.”
2 of 4Photo credit: Jeffery Salter
Alexander had a busy summer. He and his dad coached at a camp for kids and teens with disabilities. “We taught kids how to field ground balls, how to throw, how to hit,” says Alexander. “Helping kids that didn’t have the opportunity to play baseball made me feel good.” And he won his age group in the MLB Pitch, Hit & Run competition at the All-Star Game in San Diego in July. Finally, in August, he was named a Miami Marlins Student-Athlete for his accomplishments in the classroom: He made all A’s as a second-grader last year.
Alexander, who began playing T-ball when he was three, helped his travel team of six-year-olds win a national tournament in Tampa, Florida. In 2015, his team was the runner-up in the 8U competition at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Elite World Series. He primarily plays second base now, and he led his team in steals last season. “He has good instincts on the base paths,” says Davon Person, one of the coaches for Alexander’s team, ESP Matrix. “He’s very confident off the base.”
The eight-year-old is working on improving his swing from both sides of the plate, and he especially looks up to a speedster on his hometown Marlins. “Dee Gordon inspires me. We both run very fast, and we both have a good glove and feet,” says Alexander.
He also loves the sport. “When he makes big plays, he’s the kid who gives the fist pump,” says Person of Alexander. “He gets a lot out of the game. Some of the other kids are a little more reserved. He plays the game with a lot of passion.”
3 of 4Photo credit: Jamie Schwaberow
Competing in road races and triathlons runs in Jack’s blood. He’s the fifth member of his family to appear in a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED publication. His pedigree, of course, didn’t guarantee success — but he’s had plenty of it. Jack, who is 10, won his fourth straight age-division USA Triathlon Youth National Championship in July and for the first time finished ahead of all 7- to 10-year-olds, beating the second-place athlete by 34 seconds. The next week he won his division at the three-day Rocky Mountain Junior Cycling Challenge, which included three events.
His older sisters Coco, a triathlon national champion who appeared in SI’s Faces in the Crowd, and Hayley also race. “We all push each other really hard,” says Jack. “We get better, and we get faster, and we all work together, but we also try to beat each other.”
The fifth-grader will compete in Nordic skiing this winter and plays up a level on the Vail Mountaineer peewee hockey team.
John Engelhardt, who coached Jack in swimming from 2011 to ’14, remembers him as a leader among his more than 100 swimmers. “Jack is a gifted athlete. You give him instruction, and he takes it and goes with it,” says Engelhardt. “He’s going to be someone you’re going to be writing about in 20 years.”
4 of 4Photo credit: Al Tielemans
She might be four feet tall, but Kathryn, who is the only girl on a U10 boys’ team and also plays on a U14 girls’ team, often beats opponents who are much bigger. “She is a little pocket Hercules,” says Zach Slenker, who coaches the York Devils U10 team. “She capitalizes on anyone second-guessing her.”
Kathryn, a straight-A student, began playing when she was four after watching a Philadelphia Flyers game on TV with her dad. “I thought, Man, that looks like a fun sport,” she recalls. The next day, she and her mom went to a skating rink. “That was the first time I ever skated,” she says. “It inspired me.”
Since March, Kathryn has tried to inspire others. The fourth-grader volunteers every Monday with the York Polar Bears, a local organization that gives children and young adults with special needs a chance to play on a hockey team. “I like seeing smiles on their faces when I teach them something new,” says Kathryn, who at 10 is several years younger than most of the volunteers.
As a defender, she doesn’t score a lot, but she earned the U10 club’s Rick Hare Unsung Hero award, given to the most improved player who works hard and encourages teammates. “She lets her game do the talking,” says Slenker. “She doesn’t talk trash. She just knows she can beat someone.”
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