THS freshman runner shows great promise
POSTED AUG. 19-In his younger days Dan Crooker, Telstar High School’s track and cross-country coach, competed in running at the national level. So he knows a good runner when he sees one.
He sees one in 14-year-old freshman Josef Holt Andrews.
Josef, a good all-around athlete, began running track in seventh grade. “I thought I’d be a sprinter,” he said. “But the team needed a miler. I liked it more.”
He liked it so much more that by this summer he qualified for the regional competition of the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics at Bowdoin College. He finished third in the 1,500 meters race, with a time of 4:22 – which in turn qualified him for the national championship competition in California.
Advised by Crooker, Josef declined to compete because they felt he had not yet developed enough as a runner to make it a valuable experience.
Crooker only began working with Josef after school ended this past spring and applied some fine tuning, allowing him to improve significantly.
“I had seen him run in middle school. You can usually tell about someone - he’s going to be pretty solid,” he said. “He did some extra running in eighth grade, and he ran very well in track season. He’s got a lot of heart. He has some work to do on the fundamentals.”
Seeing Josef’s talent, he decided it was time to have a serious talk with the young man about his future in athletics.
“To be great at one thing takes a lot of commitment,” said Crooker. “We sat him down and talked to him about what he wanted to do. He picked running.”
Josef said it wasn’t an easy choice. He also enjoys playing soccer, golf, basketball, football and baseball. But he also recognized his potential in running.
Now, he’s on a long-term development program, with Crooker supervising. Crooker hopes to get Josef, as well as other Telstar and local area runners, involved in a statewide indoor track program during the winter months as well as other national based running competitions. He also hopes to organize bigger meets for the Telstar track, which has been a popular site with Class C schools.
In the meantime, this summer Crooker has been giving Josef all he can handle on the race courses. At the recent Andover Olde Home Days 4.5-mile road race, Crooker finished first and Josef second.
“He doesn’t like being beaten by an older guy,” said Crooker with a laugh.
But, he said, he expects their future races to get tighter and tighter.