It’s amazing what a little extra effort and focus can do. Just ask Josiah Webber.

A junior, Webber spent his first two seasons using cross country as a way to get ready for basketball season. But after finishing eighth in the mile at the Class B track championships last spring, he decided to put just a little more effort into the sport entering the fall.

“I was like, ‘maybe this is what I’m supposed to do,'” Webber said. “Ever since then, I just started dieting, really taking care of my body. I read a lot of running books, definitely did a lot of research.”

The move paid off, in a big way.

Webber finished fourth in Class B at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference meet in October. A week later, Webber hit his biggest mark of the season, capturing the Class B North championship.

“It’s a great feeling (to win),” Webber said. “You feel like you’re on top of the world.”

For his efforts, Webber is the Central Maine Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year. James Cognata of Winthrop was also considered.

Lawrence coach Tim Alberts credited Webber’s dedication as a major reason for his success this season.

“He worked unbelievably hard,” Alberts said. “We would get done with practices, and he would keep going. I have a philosophy on time on your feet, how much (running) should you actually be doing. Honestly, he did his own thing. He would do the workouts as I designed them, and then he said ‘You know what? I’m going to run for another three miles.'”

Not only did Webber work hard, but he worked smart. Not only would he ask Alberts how long he should run, but he asked more detailed questions, like what pace he should run.

“This is something he wouldn’t have known the past couple of years,” Alberts said. “That innate ability to say ‘This is what a seven-minute mile looks like.’ I do think that helped him.”

Webber in turn credited Alberts with his success, allowing him find his own training path.

“He definitely didn’t coach with an iron fist,” Webber said. “If a coach said ‘You need to do it my way,’ I wouldn’t have made it anywhere. I needed to be creative and find my own way to the top. He was very accepting of that, and that meant a lot to me.”

Webber jumped into postseason contention right away at the KVAC meet. He finished with a time of 18:25.7, 13 seconds away from a second-place finish, and just over a minute beyond KVAC B champion Jarrett Gulden of Lincoln Academy.

But Webber was able to find his second gear Oct. 26 at the Class B North championship at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast. He finished with a top time of 17:06.36, eight seconds faster than second-place finisher Dylan Fowler of Hermon. He finished his season with a strong effort at the Class B championships Nov. 2 in Cumberland, with a time of 17:42.06 that was good enough for 16th place.

Webber will continue to push himself — and shoot for new personal records — this winter and spring in indoor and outdoor track.

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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