Dear Running: Memories That I Will Never Forget

John Youssef talks how he went from running 23 minutes in the 5K as a freshman to eventually making the varsity squad at Mansfield HS in Texas. Making the necessary changes and becoming even more dedicated, Youssef and his team earned a state ranking and made the push to challenge for state meet berth.

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This year has been a huge breakthrough for Mansfield High School. My freshman year, our varsity team was pretty decent, and I was on jv, running times from 21's to even 23's for a 5k.

Throughout these 4 years, the whole team dynamic has transformed. Every summer, we would get together as a family, and grind through the Texas heat. Coming into sophomore year, I got into the 19's, which was huge for me. Junior year, 18's. I continued working my way up jv in hopes that I could make tremendous improvements.

Then came the summer of 2019. Coming into senior year, the other seniors and I wanted to do something special this year, and end on a good note. We had a boys team as motivated as ever, and we met at the park pretty much every weekday to get base mileage in at the park at 6:30 a.m., then run with the incoming freshmen at 7:30. However, the most important part was that we cared for each other, a lot. I spent most of my summer hanging out with the team, and making memories that I will never forget.

I am glad to say that we saw the accumulation of our hard work begin to pay off. I opened up my first 5k of the season in the 16's, which took me a while to process. Our boys team began to get noticed, whether that is through getting interviews, winning several meets, and even getting ranked #12 in Texas for 6a. After winning district by a long shot, our dream of making state was missed at the "Region of Doom" due to some mishaps, and us just not having a good day. That's okay, because the gains this school has made in this program are impressive.

With all of that being said, I have learned so much. Never give up on your dreams, there's no such thing as shooting too high, as long as you find joy in what you're doing. Running has always been my outlet from this stressful society, and has helped me get through the bad days. I know our team and I were not at the very top, but I am still very proud of what we've done and what is to come.

As for this virus, view it as a test. The most mentally tough people will be the ones on top once this situation blows over. Stay safe.

- John Youssef, Mansfield c/o 2020