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Josh Park poses for a photo on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. 

Cross Country: Josh Park has been one of Ohio's best this season

Josh Park has been one of Ohio’s best runners this season. From consistent top finishes to gutty practices, Park has enjoyed the success he’s experienced this season.

His most recent achievement happened at the Pre-Nationals meet in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Oct. 19, where he finished second out of 130 runners. His second place finish played a large role in helping Ohio finish second in the team standings.

It’s not like Park just woke up that morning and decided to run a great race. It takes more preparation than most people would think and there’s more strategy behind it than just showing up.

“The thing that helps us the most as a team is the night before a race, we discuss the course and how things are going to go,“ Park said. “Every race is a little bit different but we try to plan everything out and it usually sits really well in my mind if everything works how it was planned out.”

For the meet in Indiana, the plan seemingly worked. Park, a junior from Amherst, was paired with redshirt junior and Newark native Griffin Butler. Park’s plan was to start alongside Butler in the 5k race and just work his way up throughout the course. There wasn’t a set goal on where to get and even Park was stunned at how easy it was.

“I was surprised how easy it was to move up that far,“ he said. “I just executed the race plan as discussed and I am thankful to finish as good as I did.”

With each runner he passed and the top of the runners getting closer, the nerves could’ve settled in to maintain the pace and rhythm, but in Terre Haute, with the course and surrounding elements, Park was comfortable — relaxed even.

He executed his plan and at a comfortable spot near the top, Park returned from focusing on his plan, to worrying about the little things. 

“What I like to do is try not to think about people behind me or people in front of me, but think about form and mitigating loss, all the small things you can do,“ he said. “Just doing the smartest things to stay away.”

While Park was one of the best runners in Terre Haute, he wasn’t on top of the podium at the end of races. Park walked on to the team two years ago and struggled to find ways to contribute to the overall betterment of the team until late in his first year. 

He barely saw himself as an asset to the team at all.

“It is really a motivation and hard work thing, and being a student of the sport,“ he said. “It is not enough to come to practice every day and do what the coach said, but being mindful of everything that is going on and trying to do everything you can do to be the best you can be.”

Park went from barely earning points on the team to being probably Ohio’s top contributor which is a very exciting feeling for him.

“It is satisfying for me and also I think it is cool for other guys to see I didn’t come onto the team fast,“ Park said. “I worked my way up and there is a clear pathway to get from mediocre to being the high performing runner you want to be.”

Ohio’s next race is the MAC Championships on Nov. 2, a race that Park won last season mainly because he wasn’t one of the conference’s biggest names. That underdog status fueled him to run one of his best times last year and cap off a relatively successful season.

But now, he’s the guy that everyone is trying to beat.

“Winning last year kind of put a lot of pressure on me so I’m kind of the guy that everyone is looking at.”

Park and the Bobcats like their chances to race strong next week. He’ll make his plan and he’ll execute it to the best of his ability. And whatever happens after that is all just a part of the race. 

“I’ll be in the mix and if I have the chance, I am going to take it.”


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