BRANDON, S.D. (KELO) – The Brandon Valley track program features more than 200 athletes, including 2 that moved from San Diego to South Dakota 2 years ago

“I coach the sprinters and we were out here kind of doing our warm-up and I’m looking down seeing who’s here because I looked at the absence list earlier in the day and I see these two kids I didn’t know and so I started to ask a few kids hey do you know who these kids are? Oh yea that’s Julian and London and they’re from California and I’m like oh okay,” Brandon Valley head coach Troy Sturgeon said.

With the state of California imposing strict rules during the pandemic, the Watson family decided to look elsewhere in search of more opportunity, landing on Brandon, South Dakota.

“When we visited it was actually warm and I was like this isn’t that bad but then a month after being here it started snowing and I was not ready, I had nothing for it. It was a little miserable in the cold but the people here were nice so I got used to it,” BV senior sprinter Julian Watson stated.

Last year as a junior, Julian would establish himself as one of the better sprinters in the area.

“When we’re doing workouts by ourselves I kind of just keep a certain distance behind him because if I try and keep up with him I just get too tired,” London Watson said of his older brother.

Unable to break the 50 second mark in the 400 last season, the older Watson began consistently running in the 48’s this year, and on April 22nd he took it one step further.

“I didn’t know, I wasn’t thinking state record at that time. I was thinking hey this might might be close to a school record and when he finished the race he came across and one of the other athletes Sabren Bortnem said to me…” Sturgeon said.

“You just hah a 47.4,” Julian Watson continued. “I was like that’s a state record. Everyone was like really, and I was like yeah it is and they told me it was official and I was super excited.”

“Really a special moment because I knew it meant a lot to Julian and for him to be able to share that with his mom and his dad, and his brother being on the team of course, and I think his grandpa and grandma were even there. So, that was really cool,” Sturgeon said of the record breaking performance.