GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Mason Ferlic's family has been with him every step of the way, including last month when he earned an Olympic berth in the steeplechase at the U.S. Track and Field Finals in Eugene, Oregon.
"Afterwards I saw that video of them going berserk at the rail and it gave me chills watching and knowing that they got to share that moment with me. It was super special," said Olympian Mason Ferlic.
"I'm not sure when the journey towards an Olympic team spot technically begins. It's probably rooted in all of those uncountable hours, miles and difficult training sessions, early mornings since the beginning of high school for him, if not earlier. So, it's very very sweet to watch your brother's passion and sacrifice pay off on one of the biggest stages in track and field," said Mason's brother Nolan.
"To have a member of our family come this close and make the team--it realized my dream as well. I was living vicariously through him and just to see him reach that level is amazing," said Mason's youngest brother Evan.
The Roseville native started competing in the steeplechase at the University of Michigan by chance as a redshirt freshman when the track coach needed an extra runner in the event for an upcoming meet.
"I thought it was a terrifying event. It looks awful. It looks like I'm going to faceplant on the first barrier and in the water. I had no interest in doing it, I just wanted to run the 5K and don't put any barriers in front of me. Lo and behold the race goes off and I was able to find this rhythm in this event. I was running up there with the leader, I passed the leader and then with the bell lap to go I win the race and it was my first collegiate win actually," said Mason.
The 2011 Mounds Park Academy graduate has had to overcome a number of obstacles from injuries to epic spills along the way to achieve his Olympic dream.
"I had a pretty iconic fall in the steeplechase at the 2015 NCAA Championships," said Mason .
Mason's mom and dad were on hand to see that scary moment.
"He was slated to win the race and he clipped his toe on the barrier and he goes into the water. I don't know if my heart can take all of this trauma to see your son in that situation. It was really frightening," said Char Ferlic, Mason's mom.
Mason came back the next year to win the NCAA Championship in the steeplechase in 2016.
Ferlic's focus on the track may be getting an assist from his studies in Ann Arbor where he earned a masters degree in aerospace engineering and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in statistics at Michigan.
"Mason projects what his goal is or what he anticipates, he accomplishes. From that standpoint it's remarkable he hits it and achieves it but there's always that reluctance to totally vest into that Olympian state he ultimately achieved which even today--we're still pinching ourselves," said Mike Ferlic, Mason's dad.
"I know sports commentators will call him the rocket scientist or the engineer. I think he embodies the best of those traits in those labels," said Nolan Ferlic.
Meanwhile, his parents are doing their part to support Mason back at home with a uniquely decorated front yard!
There's a large topiary horse with an Olympic medal around it's neck!
Mason's mom Char says it's a definite conversation starter!
The 27-year-old has found his stride and is looking forward to finishing strong in Tokyo.
"For some reason being persistent and being focused as well being self aware of where I'm at in this sport made it a reality," said Mason.