The senior boys runner has his eyes on a time in the 15:30s.
His lofty standing took the runner by surprise.
Lakewood Ranch High senior Johnny Reid’s face lit up when he heard he had run the fourth-fastest cross country time (16:21.7) in the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Class 4A, as of Sept. 13.
He set the time in his first race of the season on Sept. 1 during the Venice Invitational at Venice High. Reid finished 10th at the 2017 FHSAA State Cross-Country meet at Florida State University (15.58.91).
Reid’s best time this season might have been better if he had run on a different course. Lakewood Ranch cross-country coach Kristin Wikstrom said the sport is course-dependent, meaning a first-place time at one course might not make the top-10 at another on a given day. It can make a 30-second difference or more, Wikstrom said.
Of the top-50 boys cross country times in the state this season, only Reid’s came at the Venice Invitational, a meet that included cross-country powers Venice, Riverview and Sarasota.
Meanwhile, seven of the top-50 times in the state were set at the Astronaut Invitational at Chain of Lakes Park in Winter Haven on Sept. 8, including two of the three times better than Reid’s. Oviedo High senior Angel Vicioso leads the state at 15:59.1, while his junior teammate, Kayamo Galloway, sits third at 16:19.00. Defending state champion Benjamin Hartvigsen, a Sarasota High senior, sits second at 16:05.1, a time he set at the Seffner Christian Invitational on Sept. 8 at Holloway Park in Lakeland. Hartvigsen did not run at the Venice Invitational.
Wikstrom, who took the cross-country job this season after Bryan Thomas retired over the summer, said she knew right away that Reid was special. Not just because of his running ability, but his intangibles. He leads the team in stretches every day. He reigns people in and gets them to focus. Reid is often asked by Wikstrom to do extra work.
“I’ll say, ‘Are you good to do two more (laps)?" Wikstrom said. “He always says 'yes,' with no hesitation. He’s one of the hardest-working athletes I’ve seen. He’s self-motivated and driven to get better.”
Reid, who also runs track and field at Lakewood Ranch, said he doesn’t have a typical track star’s perspective on cross country, which is to use it to stay in shape for track season. When Reid runs a cross country race, he said, he’s running to win. He enjoys cross country more than track, he said, even though he believes he's better at track. Reid said the various cross country courses are more appealing to the eyes.
He ran more in preparation for this season than he has in the past, pumping out 40 miles each week starting in July. He's also using various recovery techniques this year, whereas in the past he would stick to only using "800 repeats" (800-meter runs, a set number of times) to cool down after a training session. His race day diet has remained the same, though, a peanut butter bagel before the race, and a glass of orange juice after the race.
By the end of the season, Reid said, he would like to get his times into the 15:30s, and end it all with a top-3 finish (at least) at the state meet. It’s possible: Reid’s 15:58.91 time at last year’s state meet is his personal record. Wikstrom, a former LRHS girls cross country runner, said she ran that course herself multiple times, and knows how hard it is to set a personal record there. If he can do that, she said, he can do anything.
If everything breaks right, she said he could win a state title.
“I feel like it’s attainable,” Reid said. “You never know what can happen in the end. I just have to race.”