Male Area Athlete of the Week: Johnson runs low time at Crosslake meet
Johnson talks about how life changing cross-country has been
Ethan Johnson came in with course knowledge of the Crosslake invitational Thursday, Sept. 10.
The Pequot Lakes senior runner conquered the hills of the Crosslake course to win in 17:32.95 and shave a minute off his time from last year.
“I live in Crosslake, so I’ve run that course a lot,” Johnson said. “And it’s just the home course advantage. We know the course really well, so going into it we were pretty confident I think.
“The hills make the course a lot harder. It usually runs about a minute slow, but we have run it so many times that we knew to hit the downhills hard and use every bit of the easier part to our advantage.”
The hills made Johnson start a little cautiously according to Pequot Lakes head coach Jeff Brever.
“In talking with him, he said he felt really good by the time they reached the really big hill on the back,” Brever said. “Then he had enough energy to cruise on the downhill and he was able to get a lot of turnover. His legs are feeling really good right now.”
Johnson’s focus has been one of the reasons his times have improved his senior season.
“Just being a lot more intentional in practices and meets,” Johnson said. “Not just running to be there, but running with a goal in a mind. I’ve just put in a lot of work over the summer that helped a lot. I run a lot better when I run focused and am intentional about what I do. So, I like to think that that’s something I’m good at with running.”
Now that he is a senior he feels he understands his body better and knows how far to push himself.
“Beginning of my junior year last year I went in with a couple goals in mind and I went in with the thought that I was going to hold myself accountable,” he said.
Brever has noticed all the extra effort Johnson has put into the season, especially once track season got canceled.
“Since they didn’t have track they kind of missed the track season and the hard workouts,” Brever said. “I think everyone is a little behind for cross-country because a lot of track runners run cross-country. Ethan has been training over the summer and over the spring and I think he’s got a little advantage right now.”
Where he has really improved in Brever’s eyes is his confidence.
“It’s just being able to fuel that confidence and know it’s your last chance and you want to want to do everything you need to, to do your best,” Brever said. “He has really taken it to heart, especially since he missed track in spring, and it shows.”
Johnson admits it’s been harder to run in meets with fewer teams due to COVID-19 restrictions. He tries to go into a race with a goal in mind and running aggressively.
“The person in front of you is going to be 100 plus meters ahead of you,” he said. “It’s harder to catch people. Harder to compete. But you are still there to improve on your own time, which helps. You kind of race yourself.”
As a senior captain, Johnson wants to make Pequot Lakes cross-country a friendly environment where all his teammates enjoy running.
“One of the things I’ve really wanted to do is make sure everyone feels at home,” Johnson said. “Making sure it’s not just a team, but more like a family.”
Brever says Johnson has been a leader vocally.
“It takes a special kid to lead vocally,” Brever said. “He’s also doing it with his running. So along with that, he’s helped with our summer youth program and the kids love him. It’s everything you ask from a leader.”
Johnson doesn’t have any college plans at the moment. Even if he doesn’t run in college it is still something he will continue to do as a hobby.
“I’ll keep pushing myself,” he said. “This sport has kind of changed my life. I know running is something I’m always going to do.”
One of the ways running has been life-changing for Johnson is it has taught him self-discipline.
“It’s just like any other sport. It’ll teach you things about working with a team and how to work with people,” Johnson said. “It also teaches you how to push yourself to your limits and how to work hard.”
With the unknowns surrounding the rest of the season, Johnson hopes he can get his personal record by the end of the season.
“Obviously, I really want a postseason,” Johnson said. “But if it doesn’t happen, I have to make the most out of the meets I have here. The coaches have been really good in trying to get us as many meets as they can.”
Other notable performances:
Soccer: Alec Lindberg, Little Falls scored a goal in the Flyers 3-1 loss to Zimmerman.
Jake Borders, Lake Region, scored two goals in a 6-1 win over Woodcrest.
Phil Imdieke, Lake Region, scored two goals in a 6-1 win over Woodcrest.
School: Pequot Lakes
Highlights: Won the Crosslake invite in 17:32.95