Running to the top

Freshman state-qualifier flies through first year of cross country


Photo by Used with permission of Brooke Johnston

Brooke Johnston, freshman, races towards the finish line. Johnston loves to run and with her fast times, she was able to compete in State as a freshman.

The phrase “going to State” indicates a student is one of the best athletes or performers. It may take years for students to participate and compete in State. But Booke Johnston, freshman, is different. Johnston, one of the fastest girls on the Girls Cross Country team, competed in State this year and she has big plans for her future.

    For Johnston, running is a persevering fight. Johnston said that running can be difficult for her, but she continues to push herself farther, eventually taking her to the finish line during various races.

    It’s a fight against myself. I’m not hard on myself, but I like to be able to keep getting better. I know that if I have anything left in me, I have to use everything until the end when there’s nothing left in me,” Johnston said. “And I like to be able to push myself and keep going and going.”

    As a freshman who made State, Johnston says the feels the heavy pressure of doing better constantly. At the beginning of the year, she had difficulty being confident during her meets. But that changed as she continued to practice with her teammates, she said.

    “It’s pretty scary. Starting off the season I knew what I was like capable of. I didn’t have a whole lot of confidence in general. And so I kind of stayed behind, putting a lot of hard work in practice and didn’t really know what to expect,” Johnston said. “Then, after like the first couple weeks, I realized that I actually could keep pushing harder and I have a lot in me. Running is a big part of me now. But it’s still scary because I don’t really know what to expect for the later years, or I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to keep improving.”

    Johnston hope to qualify and compete in State for next year and to do so, she has some plans. She hopes to place higher than 13th place in State for the upcoming years. In order to be faster, she plans to put in a lot of effort during running practices.

    “I’m going to continue to do mostly what I’m doing now, putting in one hundred percent effort practices, even when they don’t seem to matter, like one of the summer practices or offseason practices, and you think, ‘well, how is this going to affect my race?’,” Johnston said. “But I’m still gonna put in the maximum effort I have, and even if it’s like not fun and is not a good day and I don’t want them on all I’m still going to be able to do that and it does pay off.”

    Johnston started running back in middle school, participating in track. With a recommendation from her dad, she decided to try a different sport and developed her love for distance running.

    “My dad actually told me about cross country. And I was already in track and I was already a sprinter, but he told me that distance running was a thing and that it’s great. At first, I wasn’t really into it and I didn’t really want to do it. But I kind of wanted a new sport so I went out for it and I actually really enjoyed it and I decided that I wanted to pursue it and get better at it,” Johnston said.

    While she convinces herself to continue running during races, she says she feels a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when she crosses the finish line. She also loves the energy of the team and the help her coaches provide her.

    “For the sport itself, I really like the ability to keep pushing even though it really hurts. While I’m actually doing it, it’s an individual sport. It’s just like me against myself physically during the race, and I just have to fight against the pain and not wanting to keep going. It’s more of a mental thing at that point and the practice is already paid off,” Johnston said.