Photo by Ethan Rissell
Today, we salute Josh Higgins of Cumberland Valley. Higgins just closed out a strong career for CV. Higginns was a three-time state qualifier in cross country with a 5K PR of 15:55. He also holds open PRs on the track of 1:59.80 (800 meters), 4:24.96 (1600 meters), and 9:29.95 (3200 meters).
Throughout the end of June and through July we we be honoring our graduating seniors. To submit your own questionnaire to be posted on the front page of PennTrackXC, check out this page and email your responses to Dan Beck (firstname.lastname@example.org).
What was your most memorable race/competition?
My most memorable race was definitely Districts in outdoor track in 2015. I had a very successful, breakout season in the 3200, and had already beaten my previous season's pr by 17 seconds coming in to Districts earlier in the season. In the week leading up to the race my coach really started getting on me about believing I could break our school's sophomore record and run another great pr based on the workouts we had been doing. Before the race I remember feeling incredibly calm, which at the time was an unusual occurrence for me. The gun went off and I remember being caught up in the middle of a group of guys I didn't really think I could run with, and I thought about easing up but every time I got to the 200, my coach reminded me that I belonged up there, and I really started to believe it for the first time during that race. I ended up running a 15 second pr, beating the old sophomore record by 7 seconds, and punching a ticket to the state meet, a first for me in track. I was shocked that the biggest difference in my performance wasn't the training I had done, but the change in mentality I had during the race. I can honestly say that those 9 minutes and 29 seconds changed me, and that's why that race is my most memorable.
Where did you face your biggest competition?
I faced my biggest competition in cross country this past year, where it seemed like because of the presence of the Affolders, the entire district rose up to be even more competitive than it had been in previous years. It was awesome to be in the mix with so many other talented guys, and although it was disappointing to come up short and not make it to states as a team for the first time in my high school career, I was still glad that we held our heads high and competed to the best of our ability, despite losing countless varsity runners to injuries. The race from that season that stands out to me the most was The Carlisle Invite. A lot of teams came from out of state and performed well, but the local teams also performed very well, and I think looking at the times from that meet is a great example of how competitive the environment was this year.
Out of all of your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most?
I would say that of all my accomplishments, the one that stands out the most to me comes out of a season in which on paper, I failed to meet expectations, at the very least my own. After qualifying for indoor states in the mile and coming up short there, battling through a nagging injury almost all of junior year, and fighting off uncertainties my senior year in cross, I was determined to end my last senior track season on a high note. However, after the first dual meet, I started feeling this pain in my foot that I couldn't ignore. It was diagnosed basically as an early stress fracture, but I was told that if I took some time off and wore a boot during the day, I would still be able to finish the season, albeit with some discomfort. Even though during my senior season of outdoor I had some low moments where I ran poorly, I was still able to pr in the 1600 and the 800, plus make it to through to states in the 4x8, despite running three-quarters of my leg of the district race with only one shoe. Although my last season didn't pan out how I hoped it would, I'm still proud I was able to push through an injury and not let it become an excuse to give up.
If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your athletic career in high school?
I would only change one thing, and that would be to go back to the beginning of my junior year indoor season, and wait week or two to start that season, because if I would have done that, I probably would have avoided re-injuring an injury that flared up from cross earlier in the year. Otherwise I would change nothing, because despite the hardships that came from being injured and struggling with doubting myself, in the end, it made me a way stronger athlete, and more importantly, a way stronger person.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
The most difficult obstacles I had to overcome was the avulsion fracture I sustained my junior year of cross country, which returned in indoor that year, and overcoming all of the doubt that came along with that. Although the injury was painful and took a long time to heal, the worst part of the whole thing was regaining confidence in myself. Once I had that back, it allowed me to be successful even though things didn't always go according to plan. It took a while to realize it, but the biggest blessing that came from my high school career was my biggest challenge.
What will you miss the most?
Going to cross country camp and spending a week with my teammates. I am confident I will never find a group of guys like them ever again. Most people would probably consider that a good thing but I wouldn't trade the memories I made with them for anything.
Do you have any advice for younger athletes?
No matter what happens, keep your head held high. Hearing somebody tell you "In the end this will make you stronger" when you're going through something challenging is the most frustrating thing in the world but trust me, it's true. Looking back on it, I'm glad that things didn't shake out the way I planned because I know now what it takes to overcome, and it's made me more determined than ever to prove to myself that I can be at the top when I'm in college.
Photo by Abby Huber
How have your coaches influenced your performances and your life goals overall?
My coach, Skip, has made a huge impact on me as a person. He's one of the few people that I know will never lose faith in me, and quite often, he believed in me even when I doubted myself. He's one of the biggest reasons I want to continue to pursue running in college, and he's also given me more confidence in myself than I could ever thank him for. It might sound cliche, but I don't know what kind of person I would be if I wouldn't have had Skip in my life. Even though I have yet to seize the potential I believe I have, I'm completely certain that I will, and in large part I have Skip to thank for that mentality.
What are your post-high school plans?
I'll be attending the University of Pittsburgh this fall to major in chemical engineering and hopefully earn a roster spot on the cross country/track teams. Not 100% sure how everything is gonna play out but I don't think having a little bit of uncertainty is a bad thing.
Gotta start out with Yahya Soliman for being my most reliable teammate and friend throughout the years I've been running. That autocorrect must have messed up my name in his article but he's been a good friend other than that so I'll let it slide. Also shout out to Devon for being a true brother to me. To all my other teammates, friends and family, thanks for all of your support, I'd be lost without you.