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A Young Warrior: Meet NAU'S Cael Grotenhuis


NAU Freshman Cael Grotenhuis has been running every day since he first started running the gym class mile at Slinger Elementary School, a small school in Southeastern Wisconsin.

Like many other kids, Grotenhuis played various other sports but excelled at running. After joining the cross country team in middle school, Grotenhuis started to find success. “I started winning a lot of races and it was like an addicting feeling. I've decided to stick with it ever since. Whatever I decided to do I decided to go all-in on,” Grotenhuis said.

Photograph Courtesy of Colin Schultze

As a result of going all in, Grotenhuis ended his high school career with a state title in the 1,600 meters and as a three-time state runner-up. In the fall of 2021, Grotenhuis started attending Northern Arizona University and training with what he called one of the best training groups in the world.

Photograph Courtesy of Colin Schutlze

Recently, Grotenhuis founded Seek Athletics, a personalized coaching program for middle school and high school distance runners.

Grotenhuis passionately feels he has valuable advice and knowledge he’s acquired from the people around him that he could bring to high school athletes. “I really wish I had a mentor like that to guide me when I was in high school,” Grotenhuis said.

Grotenhuis is interested in coaching in the future and hopes to motivate the next generation of runners. They could, “go on to running at the next level if that's what they're looking for,” Grotenhuis said. “It could really change their outlook on running.”

Grotenhuis was looking for a way to stay off his feet for recovery while also finding a flexible way of making money to support himself to buy things like higher quality food.

He, like many other runners, wants to take his running career to the greatest length possible. “I'm just focused on the right now of dialing in training and trying to see what I can do this year next year and trying to maximize that potential before I start thinking about [running professionally],” Grotenhuis said.

Photograph Courtesy of Shannon Thompson

His biggest advice for aspiring runners is to not be afraid to try hard. “A lot of times it's made not cool to be the guy that tries hard and does every little thing correctly,” Grotenhuis said. “Don't be scared to do things differently than someone else on your team because you wanna do well.”

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