His time in the state championship cross country meet was, for him, a rather pedestrian 17 minutes flat over the hilly 5-kilometer course at Twin Brook Recreation Area.
Eight runners from Class B and one from Class A ran faster that day, but Telstar senior Josef Holt-Andrews was unperturbed. He knew he could run faster. Heck, he had blown through the regionals a week earlier over the same trails with a 15:54 clocking that was better than anyone did that day at even the flatter, less-challenging Eastern Maine championship meet in Belfast.
No, Holt-Andrews had his eye on the New England meet in New Hampshire’s Derryfield Park, where he ran a blazing 15:12 that would have been a course record but for two runners from Connecticut who ran a few seconds faster.
Holt-Andrews also geared training to the Foot Locker Northeast Regionals in New York. “I knew my goals were much later in the season,” he said. “It was more about getting the win.”
Holt-Andrews is the boys’ cross country Runner of the Year.
Not until eighth grade did he realize that distance running could be his calling card. An excellent all-around athlete, he played baseball, football, basketball, soccer and some golf.
Dan Crooker, the Telstar High cross country coach, saw a 14-year-old with a smooth stride and untapped potential. They sat for a talk.
“I said, ‘Josef, you could be good at a lot of sports but if you want to be great at one, you have to be willing to commit,’ ” Crooker said.
That commitment included running year-round, despite the fact Telstar has no indoor track team and no nearby facility. It included going to bed early and eating healthy, and passing up weekend nights with friends.
“It’s a lot more than people think,” Holt-Andrews said. “It’s not just running. You have to do boring stuff like staying home and getting your sleep.”
As a freshman and sophomore, he placed third in Class C behind the winner, Matt McClintock of Madison. McClintock, now a sophomore All-American at Purdue, was an inspiration to a fellow runner from a small town in Maine’s western mountains.
“He always kept me motivated when I didn’t have anybody,” Holt-Andrews said. “I never beat him but he gave me that guy to strive for, to beat his records.”
As a junior, Holt-Andrews finished second in Class C but fifth in New England. At the Foot Locker Northeast Regionals, Holt-Andrews placed 22nd, the first Mainer and sixth among all underclassmen.
As a senior, he lowered McClintock’s course record in Carrabec with a 15:21 clocking. “Of the four times that he raced hard this year,” Crooker said, “he broke course records three times.”
An excellent student interested in chemical engineering, Holt-Andrews has visited Iowa State and Wisconsin. Oklahoma State is next. Georgetown is in the conversation, and Stanford and Oregon are aware of him.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: