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The Drill: When Owen J. discovered he was good at cross country, he went all in

Luverne High School sophomore Owen Janiszeski is a strong state competitor in running, like his older brother Camden

Fans watch as Camden Janiszeski (white top, red shorts) leads the competitors at the boys Section 3A cross country meet this year.
Fans watch as Camden Janiszeski (white top, red shorts) leads the competitors at the boys Section 3A cross country meet this year.
Tim Middagh/The Globe
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LUVERNE -- There are several reasons Luverne High School sophomore Owen Janiszeski is an excellent cross country runner. One of those obviously emanates from his heart.

He has a strong desire to succeed. And that was on display recently at the Section 3A meet, held in Luverne, where Janiszeski -- who was determined to finish first in the individual boys’ competition -- had to settle for second. His disappointment was obvious as he ran into the chute just five seconds behind Redwood Falls’ Will Ahrens, and he shook his head unhappily as he slowed to a stop. Janiszeski had led most of the way, and he wanted to do his best to help his LHS teammates capture first place in the team standings.

For several minutes after the race, Owen sat on the grass well away from the finish line, alone with his thoughts.

Fortunately for him, he still had the state meet to get ready for. And the next day at practice, he seemed to put the second meet behind him while he prepared for the biggest race of the year (and, by the way, Luverne did finish first in the section team standings).

A week later, Janiszeski put in a strong performance at the state Class A run at St. Olaf College in Northfield, finishing fifth overall in a time of 16:09.1. His older brother Camden placed 25th in 16:42.6, helping Luverne finish an impressive second in the team standings with 102 points. Heritage Christian won with 99.

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You’d assume that since Camden, a senior, found success in cross country before Owen, and that their father Pete is the LHS head cross country coach, it would only be natural for Owen to turn to cross country as a favorite sport. But it wasn’t quite so automatic.

He recalls the beginnings of his interest:

“My older brother Camden has influenced me by getting me into the sport, keeping me in teflon, and showing me how to work hard -- and just being by my side in the sport. My dad is the cross country coach and he’s just always kind of told me, ‘You can do whatever you want, but I’d like it if you do cross country.’ I used to do baseball, then I chose to start running and just fell in love with it. It was like, ‘Hey, I’m pretty decent at this,’ and I kept going. And I’m here today.”

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Cross country is often described as a sport that celebrates the individual, but that’s not the major story for the younger Janiszeski. Owen, who also competes in track and field, says the “team aspect” of the sport gets him excited.

“It’s just having fun with my friends and my teammates every day, and working hard and achieving goals,” he said.

As this week’s Drill subject, Owen Janiszeski gave The Globe added information about himself and his sport. You can see the video online at www.dglobe.com . Here’s a sampling of the interview:

QUESTION: How do you approach your cross country races?

ANSWER: “In my races I usually run … I’m kind of aggressive. I get out hard, but kind of passive-aggressive. I don’t say I would save up for my kick, but I run hard and I start clicking through the gears and run harder and harder. Just seeing how hard I can finish. I wouldn’t say my race tactics have really changed a lot, but obviously in different races there’s different things. Just trying different things and having fun with what you’re doing.”

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QUESTION: What’s the best advice you’ve received for sports?

ANSWER: “The most valuable advice that I’ve gotten as a runner is to not focus on the past, and kind of keep focusing your goals and keep working hard, and eventually it’ll pay off.”

QUESTION: Tell us something interesting about yourself that some people might not know.

ANSWER: “One interesting thing about me is I am in love with ice fishing. In the winter I try to do it as much as possible -- just go out and have fun with my friends and change up the pace a little bit.”

Related Topics: THE DRILLCROSS COUNTRY
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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