Continuing my busy week of track stories is this feature on Iona track siblings Stetson and Jessica Moss. I’ve seen Stetson, an incoming Bonneville High School sophomore, run several times this last year in cross-country and track seasons, but did not meet Jessica until earlier this month at the first youth track meet of the summer at Ravsten. They qualified for the Junior Olympics Nationals over the weekend in Meridian with two meet record times by Stetson and personal bests from Jessica that are already putting her in a rare category for her age. Stetson’s times from the weekend would put him top 16 in the U.S. for his age division (per athletic.net and milesplit.com national rankings) and Jessica’s personal bests for the 1,500 and 1,600 are the fastest I’ve found on record for an eastern Idaho girl at her age. To put this in perspective: recent graduates and state medalists Michelle Pratt of Blackfoot (Weber State signee), Paytin Drollinger of Shelley (Utah State) and Shaylee Hill of Sugar-Salem (College of Southern Idaho) did not break the six-minute barrier for the 1,600 until reaching high school. These two are going to be fun to watch in years to come.
Iona track siblings Stetson and Jessica Moss are already impressing
By MARLOWE HEREFORD
The earliest version of the proverb “a rolling stone gathers no moss” — credited to ancient scholars and writers — has negative connotations.
The message was that a nomad could not thrive because they never settle in one place. An antithesis interpretation has also been attributed to the proverb: staying in one place too long will bog you down.
Consider the latter interpretation true for the Iona Mosses, who move too fast to gather literal moss because they are chasing big dreams.
Stetson Moss, 15, and his sister Jessica, 13, are runners. Stetson took up track in sixth grade and cross-country in eighth grade, while Jessica started both sports this past school year as a seventh grader. After impressive seasons for their respective schools, and respected performances last Saturday at the Region 11 Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in Meridian, they’re headed to the National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in July in Lawrence, Kan.
Stetson, an incoming Bonneville High School sophomore whose personal best four minutes, 22.90 seconds in the 1,600 at the YMCA Invitational put him No. 6 in the U.S. among freshman boys in athletic.net’s rankings in April, won the 15-16 boys 1,500 in 4:14.48 (meet record) and 15-16 boys 3,000 in 9:09.61 (broke 2015 Pocatello graduate Elijah Armstrong’s meet record). Jessica, a rising eighth grader at Rocky Mountain Middle School who ended seventh grade track with personal best times of 2:36.40 (800) and 5:50.09 (1,600), placed second in the 13-14 girls 1,500 with a personal best 5:20 and fifth in the 13-14 girls 800 in 2:36.
When speaking of their goals, the Mosses mention specific times and specific meets. They share one big goal: to represent Team USA.
“Ever since I was probably in sixth grade, my end goal has been to make it to the Olympics,” Stetson said.
“I want to go to the Olympics and compete with him,” Jessica said. “Go to the Olympics and get gold.”
A fiery start
Stetson and Jessica credit their cousin Ember Stratton for providing much needed motivation during a family camping trip two years ago in the mountains of Arco.
Stratton, who owns personal bests of 2:19.14 (800), 4:35.67 (1,500) and 4:57.46 (mile) and will be a junior at Sunset High School in Portland, Ore., this fall, invited them on a run. After covering four miles, her Idaho cousins were bushed.
“She whooped my butt,” Stetson said.
Stetson carried memories of that workout into eighth grade, winning four of five 2,500 meter cross-country races and going undefeated in the 1,600 in track. Jessica then took up both sports last year, by which time their father Daryl, an Arco native and former football player, noticed something special happening.
“To see the hard work that they put in and the talent they have, I just wonder where in the world it came from,” Daryl said with a laugh. “It’s just really, really amazing to me. This is brand new for me and my wife. It makes me want to be a better parent for them.”
Daryl met someone to help mold that talent while in Rigby in October for his 10 year-old son Kyler’s football game. He noticed a man working with Hillcrest sprinter Ara Omotowa on the track, and he decided to walk over. The man introduced himself as Stephone Jordan, a multiple high school state track champion from Washington and an Idaho State student who volunteers his time to coach eastern Idaho athletes.
By November, Stetson was Jordan’s newest pupil.
“The amount of talent he had with really raw coaching, we were all pretty much in awe,” Jordan said. “His potential is just outrageous.”
Jessica started working with Jordan in April, prompting the Mosses to master time management. They see Jordan up to three times per week in Pocatello or Idaho Falls and follow his workouts together when he can’t be with them. Each day is scheduled and their mother, Juleen, said Jessica has often gone straight from cross-country practice to Jeremy Smith’s High Five Flyers track practice the same day this summer.
Daryl said his two oldest children’s discipline amazes him.
“I look at where I was when I was their age, I was coming home and watching Star Trek. They’re not,” Daryl said. “They’re coming home, grabbing a bite to eat and going to run.”
Stetson and Jessica said they prefer the grind, especially when they notice progress, and they credited Jordan for pushing them harder than they’ve ever been pushed.
“He’s always there to push us faster and work harder,” Stetson said. “He’s competed with us a few times in practice and tries to make it to all our meets.”
Eyes on the prize
Stetson said he aspires to break four minutes in the mile by the time he graduates. It is one of many goals Jordan said he believes Stetson will achieve.
“Over the next few years, I see him being the next Idaho track star under 1:50 (in the 800),” Jordan said.
Jessica’s next goal is to run a sub-five minute mile. She is currently doing the same workouts as Stetson, which Jordan said is setting a foundation for when she deviates from them.
“That makes her such a strong athlete,” Jordan said. “I think she’ll be a female athlete who will challenge (Mountain View’s) Lexy Halladay.”
Despite frequently training and traveling together, Stetson and Jessica said any sibling rivalry is all in good fun. As for competing in the same events as her brother, Jessica called that an easy decision.
“I just really look up to him,” Jessica said. “We push each other, but we don’t tear each other down.”
Daryl confirmed that point. He described Stetson as a protective older brother who is good friends with Jessica on the track and at home and said they’ve created a strong bond through their success.
“Running together and having a common goal together has helped bring them closer together,” Daryl said.
Personal best times:
800 (outdoor) 2:03.42
1,500 (outdoor) 4:14.48
1,600 (outdoor) 4:22.90
3,000 (outdoor) 9:09.61
3,200 (outdoor) 9:36.04
800 (outdoor) 2:36
1,500 (outdoor) 5:20
1,600 (outdoor) 5:50.09