December 6, 2013

Boys’ runner of the year: Josef Holt-Andrews of Telstar

Sacrifices have paid off in a big way.

By Glenn Jordan
Staff Writer

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.

All cross country eyes this season have been on Josef Holt-Andrews of Telstar, who finished third in the New England championships at Manchester, N.H.

Bill Sandeuter Photo

All-State Boys’ Cross Country

Brayden Beardsley, Ellsworth senior

Eastern Maine runner-up in Class B who finished third in the state meet. He was 32nd in New England, the fourth runner from Maine.

Braden Becker, Yarmouth senior

Finished fifth in Western Maine and sixth in the Class B state meet as one of the seven runners, regardless of class, to break 16:55 at Twin Brook.

Dan Curts, Ellsworth senior

Two-time Class B state champion who turned in the fastest time from all three state meets, 16:09. Led the Eagles to the Eastern Maine title and state runner-up.

Peter Doane, Cape Elizabeth senior

Third in Western Maine and fifth in Class B to help the Capers win regional and state crowns. Sixth Mainer in New England, 41st overall.

Isaiah Harris, Lewiston junior

Class A runner-up who led the Blue Devils to regional and state titles. Seventh Maine runner to finish at New England meet, 51st overall.

Josef Holt-Andrews, Telstar senior

Class C champion who set a Belfast course record of 15:06 and was third in New England in a time (15:12) faster than the previous course record.

Josh Horne, Mt. Blue senior

Eastern Maine and state champion with the only time (16:43) under 17 minutes in Class A. Placed 38th in New England, the fifth Mainer.

Robert Looker, Ellsworth senior

Fifth in Eastern Class B to help the Eagles win the regional title. Seventh in state meet and one of the eight runners of all classes under 17 minutes.

Will Shafer, Gray-New Gloucester senior

Western Maine Conference champ, regional runner-up and fourth in Class B who placed 17th in New England, the third Mainer.

Liam Simpson, Cape Elizabeth senior

Western Maine champion and runner-up in Class B who led the Capers to a second straight state title. Eighth in New England, the second Mainer.

Coach of the Year

T.J. Niles, Lewiston

In his fifth season with the program and third as head coach, Niles guided the Blue Devils to the Class A state title and eighth in New England, the best finish by any Maine school. The state title is the second in school history for Lewiston, which also won Class A in 2007. “I am not into breaking my runners,” said Niles, who ran at Poland High and Northeastern. “It’s all about peaking for the meets that matter.”

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:

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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