The 2019 state meet was incredible. There are so many amazing athletes competing in the best state competition environment of any sport in Wisconsin. The crowds were loud and motivated the athletes to amazing times and marks. We had one of those amazing athletes competing in the 3200 on Friday night. Joshua, in his state meet debut, looked like a seasoned veteran in his patient and smart race, finishing in a personal best of 9:27 and 13th overall, just under 2 seconds from 8th in one of the most competitive distance races in Wisconsin state history!
When I tell boys that you learn from each race, it's so true. Here's an example with Joshua.
In his past 3 races, Joshua has had to lead and push the pace on the field. At the conference meet, he tried pushing the pace on two great competitors. He led most of the race and got outkicked the last lap. He was able to lead but never able to get those fast laps and create the separation he needed to pull off the victory.
At the regional meet, Joshua had an easier time as we were just looking to advance. But we still wanted to practice running our race and not letting guys around us dictate the outcome. We had Joshua run out to a quick start before settling in to qualify. This race was a very easy effort, but also a nice experience for Joshua to run solo and in his own mind.
By sectionals, we had the same game plan as we always do. We are going to race. This time there was no holding back. He led the whole race, breaking most of the field the second mile by being able to now really push it the 2nd mile, which he wasn't quite able to do at conference. He closed in a 65 second last lap and made it through to the state meet.
At state, we kept things normal. We talked about running our race, no matter where we were in relation to the field. When the gun went off, I saw Joshua get a rough start and squeezed to the back of the pack. This position in back was different than the past few weeks, but those experiences of running his own race in his own mind definitely helped him here. He had a bit of a battle on the first lap with his mind as he sat in last place the whole way. Most first time guys here would be worried and maybe even give in, but Joshua showed amazing patience and poise. He passed through the 400 and heard someone should "70!" and he told himself, "Okay I'm running my race, I can roll 70's all day, let's do this."
The field was still moving as the leader was chasing the state record. Joshua was still in last place, but the pack was right there, and now he looked way more relaxed than his first lap. He continued to run his race and not worry. He was patient and continued to roll. Lap 2,3 and 4 rolled through the mile in 4:45, his fastest first mile split of the year... but still in last place. Yet, not for long. As the race goes on, Joshua knows he continues to get stronger. On lap 5 he started making moves, and by lap 6 and 7 he had passed 13 guys! Coming down the home stretch, Joshua was in a big pack of guys fighting for the 6th/8th place spots that we had our sights on coming in. He closed in another 65 second quarter and a 4:42 second mile. His race gave him 13th place, and just under 2 seconds behind scoring in 8th! In a great group of runners, Joshua showed amazing composure and confidence, and it paid off as he was able to move up and run his race and a personal best time. He trusted his months of training, and his strength work that allowed him to be stronger than any guy that second mile.
We also gained more experience and have found areas within the race where we could run more efficiently. That experience of a state meet is great to have. Knowing there was room there to run even faster, it was still one of the top sophomore 3200 times in state history.
We are excited for the future for Joshua and all the boys. It's a progression and patience is huge. He will continue to focus on his efforts, motivating his teammates and being the best us. By not comparing and by being fearless, Joshua was able to have an awesome state debut as a sophomore! There will be no complacency as we look to make history with all the boys in the coming years. We look forward to having Joshua lead us this summer and fall. And we have an amazing group ready to train this summer and create a monster pack for cross country. Let's make it historic!