COVENTRY TWP.  For many people - even athletes - running long distances is something to avoid.

Coventry senior track standout Brad Holmgren is an exception to that rule. Holmgren, in his first year running track, admits that he wishes he had taken up running sooner. Until his junior season, he played football and baseball, but decided to switch sports and run cross country.

“I knew I liked running and I had some friends on the track team and at the beginning of my junior year, I decided I wasn’t into it (football) and I ran cross country,” Holmgren said.

Not only did he start running, but he jumped into running distance races and the 3.1-mile path for cross country is one of the more challenging paths a high school runner can take. Long runs are often endurance training or even a form of physical punishment for athletes in other sports, but they haven’t been that way for Holmgren.

“I knew I liked it as soon as I started and I enjoyed running long distance. I was always pretty good at it when I did it as conditioning for other sports,” he said.

Sometimes, enjoying an activity is as simple as liking the act of doing something you’re good at. Being able to run with friends is another aspect of cross country - and track - the Holmgren has enjoyed. He was part of the cross country program’s first-ever foray to the regional level of the postseason and enjoyed a solid season last fall, but didn’t start running track until this spring.

His impact on the track has been immediate, as he broke the school record in the 3,200 with a time of 10:10 and has a top time of 4:39 in the 1,600 heading into the postseason.

He’s also a part of the 3,200-relay team, meaning in a typical meet, he runs 3 1/2 miles, nearly the same distance as he would in a typical cross country meet. Finding athletes willing to run longer races, especially the 3,200, isn’t always easy for a high school team, so having one such as Holmgren, who enjoys that challenge, is a nice find.

After the success he enjoyed in cross country and having it be his first running sport, it might seem like the trail would be Holmgren’s favorite place to run - but the opposite may be true. He admitted that he enjoys track just as much as cross country and “might enjoy it more,” which is a sentiment head coach Danny Savage is glad to hear.

“We were super excited Brad decided to run track. He had a great cross country season and we were hoping he’d run track,” Savage said. “He’s been a tremendous asset to our whole team with his leadership and his running ability. He’s taken our younger distance runners under his wing and he broke a 31-year-old school record in the 3,200.”

At the Portage Trail Conference championship meet last week, Holmgren placed sixth in the 1,600 and third in the 3,200 to help his team to a third-place finish with 101 points, behind league champion Woodridge (124 points) and second-place Streetsboro (109). As the Comets sprint toward the postseason with this weekend’s district meet kicking things off, Holmgren is looking forward to a strong finish to his brief, yet successful high school running career. With a strong team that includes solid groups in the sprints, high jump and relays, the Comets have designs on making an impact at the district level as hopefully beyond.

Yet even as the focus remains on the races in front of them, Holmgren can’t help but wonder what might have happened if he’d made the switch to running sooner.

“That’s probably one of my biggest regrets of high school, that I wish I had started running sooner,” he said. “I thought I would do pretty well, but I’ve actually done better than I thought I would do.” 

Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB