Salute to Seniors: Josh Lombardo (Westbrook High School)

Name: Josh Lombardo; known by some as JoLo

School: Westbrook High School

What was your most memorable race?

My first high school race during XC at Lake Region. I can remember everything from that meet, from the second I realized I forgot my running shoes to the moment I stepped on the bus with a medal in hand. Surprising myself and Claton, I finished 7th in 16:34 for the 2.8 mile course. That first race was when I realized running was the sport for me.

Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

The "Ginga Ninga" Ben Breton, the Ed Sheeran enthusiast Xander Keiter, and the kicking kings: Shamus Malia and Caleb Pendleton. Whenever we had meets together I always had to be on my toes, more than usual since we wear spikes, ready for a good battle and awaiting a strong kick. I'm going to miss racing these guys and all other speedy boys from the SMAA and all around the state, we brought out the best in each other in terms of personality and racing.

What was your greatest accomplishment?

Winning my first and only state championship in the 1600 this year. Not in the fashion of validating my hard work throughout the years, but for showing that I can be poised in a fast, down-to-the-wire race; because anyone in that top 5 could have won. Also, it felt awesome to represent the Blue Blazes community in good fashion: this program has been built up so much during my 4 years and I'm so proud to have been a part of it.

If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?

I would have started to send it earlier in my career and started wearing the "shorty shorts" earlier to help accentuate the quads.

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

As it is to many: my mind, as racing is so much a mental competition. Early on I would overly overthink everything dealing with training and racing (hope that provides enough emphasis). This overthinking brought on nerves, and too much thought into splits. And of course the other mental piece is overcoming the pain felt in a race, that definitely restrained my capability, and it's an obstacle that will always be present.

What will you miss the most?

If I don't say the Maine running community, I think I'm doing a disservice to you all. This community is more supportive and welcoming than any other community I've witnessed in all my races. We're more like good chums on different teams than competitors with our main goal to win: the difference in uniform seems to mean little.

What advice you would give to younger athletes?

Well I have 2 pieces of advice:

1: Be driven everyday to succeed based off your personal goals: set goals you want to achieve without the influence of others, because when it comes down to it, you're training and competing for you.

2. Truly enjoy your track/xc experience: it isn't mandatory, it should be something you want to do. Have fun everyday, at practice and meets, because it's only a maximum of 4 years/12 seasons. Play some ball sports before/after practice,  joke around constantly, and remember to send it for the boys. Also, something I have enjoyed to do rather frequently, dance or sing during workouts and in preparation for races. It kept me loose, distracted me from the pain and nerves of a race, and made me smile... that's what it's all about.

What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?

Claton, in the least amount of words, is my running dad, which is fitting since I once called him dad on accident. Through the interval workouts, tempos, and runs together, he has helped me become knowledgeable in the sport I hope to do for a long time. He gave me advice in school, life, and of course running. I know that without him I wouldn't have gone as far as I did in high school.

What are your college plans?

I will be attending Brandeis University, where I'll major in biochemistry and join the stampedes of athletes on trails and rubber ovals (XC and track).

Who would you like to say thank you to?

To my family for their support at all the meets, helping with transportation, keeping a sufficient supply of food in the household, and putting up with my constant talk of running.

To my teammates for helping make practices and meets fun and interesting, and planning the wing night excursions to BWW.

To Coach Claton for helping to turn me into a runner that thinks less and reacts more, aiding me in becoming more driven, strong-willed, and knowledgeable about the sport.

To all the friends made along the way, adding their humor to long meets; especially squad, who allowed me to be a part of their legendary group.

And to all the people driving on the roads for putting up with the sight of me in my wacky running shorts and tights.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

More than any medal or plaque that will sit on a shelf and eventually become dusty and forgotten, cherish the memories and friendships made during the journey, knowing they will be evident in life so much longer.

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