Josef Holt-Andrews is only feeling the pressure he’s putting on himself this upcoming cross country season.

The Telstar senior has set some high goals this year, including a trip to the 2013 Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego, Calif. on Dec. 14. To qualify for the race, he must be among the top 50 runners from one of four regions around the country.

First, he would have to qualify for the regional final in Bronx, N.Y., on November 30, and finish in the top ten.

“I am feeling a lot of pressure I am putting on myself even if a lot of other people aren’t putting pressure on me,” Holt-Andrews said. “I have some expectations and I would be really disappointed if I didn’t make nationals. I would like to win New Englands or get top two or three there. I have put some good goals for myself.”

To reach that level, he said he needs to work on his speed and his closing time.

Telstar coach Dan Crooker is there to make sure he doesn’t get to high or to low during the season.

“This will be the fourth year that I coached him and you just need to get know him as an athlete,” Crooker said. “Make sure the timing is right on everything and he prepares properly. When an athlete is at the level he’s at, it’s really key to get caught up in the fitness, he has to manage that.”

Crooker also cites communication as a key component in the relationship between a coach and a runner.

Holt-Andrews has inspired not only his teammates, but the school in his accomplishments so far.

“He’s a leader, they all look up to him on what he has achieved,” Crooker said. “I have to remind everybody it just didn’t happen and Josef didn’t automatically (become) a really good athlete. He has really worked hard at it starting in his freshman year.

“Telstar and the Bethel area is small-town USA. What he’s achieving is setting an example for other student-athletes in school. If you work hard you could do things that aren’t just within the local arena.”

Last cross country season, Holt-Andrews won the MVC Championship race while finishing in second at both the Western Class C meet and the Class C State meet.

He already has momentum heading into the fall with an outstanding summer, where he broke Maine’s state record at the New Balance Outdoor National 5k in Greensboro, N.C. in June with a time of 14:57.76. That record was once owned by Louie Luchini (15:00.44 in 1998). He finished 16th overall in the unseeded race.

“I like (national events),” Holt-Andrews said. “It’s better competition. Maine has a few good runners, but it’s nice to go out there and compete against all the best guys to see where you are at.”

Even though his senior season hasn’t begun in earnest, he has already started to look to life after high school for his running career.

“I’ve been talking to a few colleges, I definitely want to go to a running college to continue my running career there and maybe even run after college,” Holt-Andrews said.

As far as the Olympic trials, perhaps?

“That would be nice, but you can’t count on that,” he said.


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