LOGAN, Utah – Parker Bluth is a sprinter on Utah State’s men’s track & field team. But the senior is quick to admit he doesn’t like to run.
“I’ve always told people, even when I was in high school, that I don’t like to run,” Bluth said with a sly smile. “I like to win and running is what I’m best at. I’m a competitor and I like to compete in whatever it is and I like to win, so I’m just fortunate that it has been in athletics.”
That attitude has certainly paid off for Bluth during his time at Utah State, especially the last two years.
“Parker came to us as a freshman and he was a real good athlete,” said veteran head coach Gregg Gensel. “That’s obviously why we recruited him. Even though he got hurt his first year here, when he got back from his (LDS Church) mission he was just more driven. Something happened on his mission that made him even more focused on what he was going to do. He knew what he wanted to do in school and he knew what he wanted to do in track. He had training partners that allowed him to see what it took to be really good.”
Bluth’s training and dedication to the sport is certainly paying off in a big way.
The son of Eric and Marlene Bluth was tabbed the Male Athlete of the Year at Utah State’s Robins Awards banquet on April 16. The Robins Awards, which reward students and faculty for hard work and dedication to their individual goals, as well as the goals of USU, are the most coveted of all Utah State honors.
“It’s just a testament to this team,” Bluth, who comes from a family of runners, said of his Robins Award. “Individuals come from teammates working together and I’m just a byproduct of the sprinters crew working hard day in and day out. I was grateful for the sprinters to bring home an award like that.”
Just last month, Bluth garnered second-team All-American honors at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Birmingham, Ala. The native of Riverton, Utah, placed 14th in the semifinals of the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.21.
At the 2016 Mountain West Indoor Championships, Bluth nearly led the Aggies to their first conference title in any sport. Utah State’s men entered the final day of competition in fifth place with 29 points, but made a strong final push and forced the meet to be decided on the final event of the day: the 4x400m relay.
Bluth teamed up with junior AJ Boully and sophomores Brady Martin and Clay Lambourne to cross the finish line first in 3:09.48, the third-fastest time in school history and the second-fastest mark in MW Indoor Championships history. However, Air Force placed second, giving the Falcons the points they needed to edge past the Aggies (142-141) for the team title.
Despite not winning the team title, Bluth still garnered three first-team all-MW honors as he placed first in the 4x400m, first in the 200m (20.79) and second in the 60m (6.71).
Still, ending his Utah State career with a team championship is what Bluth covets most.
“Losing by one point at indoor conference, the guys are just ready to try and win outdoors,” said Bluth, who has earned a combined 15 indoor and outdoor all-conference accolades in his career. “We’ve got our best shot ever, so we’re going for it.”
Bluth has competed in the First Round of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships the last two seasons, but he has never made it to the Finals in Eugene, Ore. He hopes that changes this year, but he wants to take some friends along with him.
“I don’t want to go by myself,” Bluth said. “I want to go with my team in the 4×100 and 4×400 relays. It’s a goal, but before the regional meet and before nationals comes conference, so we’ve got to focus there to win the men’s team title.”
Bluth earned three all-conference honors for finishing first in all three of his events at the 2015 MW Outdoor Championships, including the 100m (10.34 seconds), 200m (20.52) and 4x400m relay (3:07.48). He was also tabbed the Men’s Outstanding Performer of the Meet.
And at the 2015 MW Indoor Championships, Bluth finished first in the 4x400m (3:10.20) and second in the 200m (21.00) to garner a pair of first-team all-conference accolades.
“He’s a tremendous athlete and the fact he won the Robins Award for being Male Athlete of the Year is a great accolade for him that is well deserved,” Gensel said. “He’s good in the classroom, he’s a team leader and he works really hard on the track and it shows.”
Bluth certainly does. His teammates can attest to that.
“When you watch Parker in practice, you understand why he is so successful on race day,” Martin said. “He comes to practice every day to work hard and he never cheats himself. I’ve noticed that it’s not just with track either. Everything he is a part of, he gives it 100 percent. That’s something you can always expect from Parker.”
Bluth’s name is splattered all over the Utah State record books, where he holds 17 top-10 rankings between the indoor and outdoor seasons. He ranks first in both the indoor 200m (20.73) and 4x400m (3:08.89), and first in the outdoor 200m (20.52), 4x100m (39.60) and 4x400m (3:05.28).
“He means a lot to this team, mostly with his talent, but also with his ability to motivate other people,” Gensel said. “He’s not shy in telling people, ‘This is what we’re going to try and accomplish,’ and then motivating them to do it. He doesn’t ever say to somebody, ‘You’re not working hard enough.’ He shows them and he encourages people, especially his teammates.”
Outside of school and track, Bluth enjoys spending time with his wife, Kirsten, and family, watching movies, making homemade pizza and reading books.
“I like a little bit of everything,” said Bluth, when asked what his favorite movie genre was. “My family, we like to watch show tunes and stuff like that. Some people probably think that’s weird, but I like musicals.”
Not only has he been honored for his success on the track throughout his career, but Bluth has been recognized for his feats in the classroom, as well. He has garnered academic all-MW honors twice (2014, 2015), MW Scholar-Athlete honors once (2014) and U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic Team honors once (2015).
Bluth, an accounting major, is on track to graduate this spring. He already has an internship lined up in Atlanta, Ga., this summer with KPMG.
“It’s been good,” Bluth said of his career at Utah State. “It started off a little rough with injuries, but every year has gotten better and I think that’s every athlete’s dream, is to get better every year and to compete at a higher level than the year before, so I’m happy with how it has turned out.”
Bluth and the Aggies have two more meets left in the regular season before heading to Fresno, Calif., for the 2016 MW Outdoor Championships, which will be held May 11-14.