Middle Township High School senior boys cross country runner, John Hargest, is a multi-faceted student-athlete.
Not only is Hargest interested in becoming a more accomplished runner, but he’s looking out for the best interests of his teammates, and gets the job done in the classroom.
"Johnathan is a four-year runner for the cross country team,’’ head coach Edward Letts said. “He has demonstrated leadership qualities and he is extremely reliable.
"John ran an 18:47 for the 5K at the South Jersey Open at Delsea on Saturday, Oct. 12. This is his personal best time on that course. He also improved his Holmdel time by over a minute since last year.
"John has been consistently improving all season. His times are dropping, and he is becoming a stronger runner. John is an excellent student-athlete.
"He is currently in several AP courses, and he is also actively involved in many activities at MTHS. John holds his teammates accountable.
"He always makes sure they are doing what needs to be done when I am not directly supervising. It is like having another coach on staff in some ways.’’
Hargest is relatively new to the sport, having begun his competitive cross country career the summer before entering his freshman year of high school.
“I had always liked running and the way I would feel after I ran, so I thought why not do it competitively,’’ Hargest said. “One of my strengths as a runner is to not give up when people pass me and my determination to push harder. Another (strength) is my ability to pass people throughout the whole race, and keep going until the end.
“My personal goals are to run a race at or below 18:30 and if I do, I’m going to try to get under 18 minutes. I knew going into this season, my team's goal was just to work hard, have fun and improve because without a winter track program, it’s hard for us to run year-round.’’
Hargest has had strong support as an athlete.
“Mr. Letts has probably been the most positive influence in my running career,’’ Hargest added.
The Panthers are set to participate in the Cape Atlantic League Championships at Millville High School Oct. 24.
“Luke Seddon (freshman) has been our No.2 runner all season,’’ Letts said. “He has been a great addition to the team. He is a hard working kid, who really enjoys the sport.
“The Middle Township High School cross country team is a great group of kids. They have been working hard all season, and have shown improvement. Our numbers are high (19 kids), and we are looking to grow moving forward.’’