Reese Walters grew up in a family that favored movement over inertia.
His parents are runners. His older sister is a heptathlete. Walters himself tried soccer, basketball, lacrosse, swimming, golf, and ultimate Frisbee.
So perhaps it’s of little surprise that when his track and field coach at the Shelton School suggested he try the steeplechase, the Bluffview resident was enthusiastic about the idea. And he found immediate success.
“I just did really good at it,” said Walters, a sophomore who won his first steeplechase during a March meet in Corpus Christi. “I like running the distance, but doing the hurdles is also really fun for me.”
A rarity at the high school level, the steeplechase is a 2-kilometer race that includes low hurdles at various intervals, with one water jump per lap. It’s an unusual combination for young track athletes who are typically labeled as sprinters, distance runners, or hurdlers.
Walters is a distance specialist who has excelled at 800 and 1,600 meters, then began to blur those distinction this season when he added the 300 hurdles to his repertoire.
When Shelton coach Steve McBride saw the Corpus Christi meet offered the steeplechase as part of its competition, he urged Walters to enter.
“He’s such a good athlete. We kind of played around with that idea,” McBride said. “He’s got that combination of athleticism and endurance.”
After winning his first steeplechase race, Walters finished fifth among 17 participants in the high school division at the Texas Relays on March 27 in Austin.
Walters placed seventh in both the 800 and the 1,600 at the TAPPS state meet last year as a freshman. This year, after having broken multiple school records, he hopes to medal in both races, as well as the high jump and the hurdles.
Such an accomplishment would help him escape the shadow of two people — his sister Tori, a heptathlete at Hendrix College in Arkansas; and Tanner Owens, a senior at Shelton who has signed with Northwestern (La.) State to become a decathlete.
“I love watching him. It’s a friendly rivalry,” Walters said of Owens. “We have competitions to see who can get the most points at meets. It’s a really nice rivalry where we can feed off of each other.”
Walters also enjoys competing against athletes from larger public schools, to earn wider respect both for himself and Shelton. For example, he was third in the 800 this season at the Richardson Invitational, a meet stacked with Class 4A and 5A public schools.
“They underestimate what we can do, and then we come out and surprise them and do well,” Walters said. “It’s really cool to show people what you can do.”
(This story ran in the May issue of Preston Hollow People, on stands now.)