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High school track team races for suicide awareness after losing former teammate


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PROVO — More than a thousand athletes gathered at their first big high school track meet of the season, with one team running to honor a former teammate on Saturday.

Jackson Merrill was up all night thinking about it.

"It is incredible. There are so many people here," Merrill expressed. "This whole week, I have been a little jittery, like, 'Oh, what is going to happen? I hope I do good.'"

Fellow competitors and teammates at Brigham Young University's Smith Fieldhouse felt the same way. However, only those on Merrill's team also felt something that is tougher to explain.

His former GoldMedal Athletics teammate, Treven Brazier, took his own life just a couple of weeks ago. He was 20 years old.

"I found out, my dad woke me up, and as I woke up way early, he was like, 'Hey, did you hear what happened?' It was hard. It was really hard. I was not expecting it," Merrill said.

To honor Brazier, the guys on the GoldMedal Athletics team decided to run wearing yellow arm sleeves, which is what Brazier used to run in.

"It was so he could see himself in the videos, like, to see where he was at and what he needs to do," said Jonathan Pugmire, who was close friends with Brazier.

The girls on the team wore yellow ribbons in their hair in his honor.

"I think it really just shows how much we care for our team," said Brooklyn Sturdivant.

Even though Brazier graduated from high school and was running in college, his teammates say he will always be a member of this team. So, they felt like they had to run for him.

"It's like, one of the most emotional races I have had just because we are running in place for him. We are running in his honor. It is really cool," said Kale Pontius.

GoldMedal Athletics coach Sean Maye said he is proud of how close his athletes have come together.

"This is the first athlete we have ever lost to something like this. We were devastated," Maye said. "But I just told the kids we have got to be strong, the older kids, and we will be OK."

Brilee Pontius, a former teammate of Brazier's who now runs for BYU, wore a similar yellow ribbon in her hair Saturday for a track meet in Colorado.

"I made ribbons for all the girls on the team," she said.

Everyone who knew Brazier, who was known as "T-Ball," has stories of how much he meant to them.

"He was such an inspiration and was such a leader on the team," Merrill said. "He was awesome and he was awesome for the team. We'll all miss him."

Suicide prevention resources

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call 988 to connect with the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Crisis Hotlines

  • Huntsman Mental Health Institute Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
  • SafeUT Crisis Line: 833-372-3388
  • 988 Suicide and Crisis LifeLine at 988
  • Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386

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Alex Cabrero
Alex Cabrero has been reporting for KSL-TV for nearly two decades. He has covered a variety of stories over the years from a variety of places, but he particularly enjoys sharing stories that show what's good in the world.

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