Westridge student finishes 9th at National Middle School Cross Country Meet

Local4 News at 10
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 3:05 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - August 2021: One year and three months. That’s when Ethan Smith started running.

Now, the eighth grader at Westridge Middle School finds himself among the nation’s fastest middle schoolers. On Nov. 5, Ethan placed 9th with a time of 13:34.7 at the National Middle School Cross Country National Championships in Louisville, Kentucky. Ethan competed in the championship boys 4k race.

Running clears Ethan’s mind, but he puts in grueling work to get there. He prepared for the 2022 season by practicing with the Islanders at Grand Island Senior High this summer. Monday through Friday, Ethan, along with the Islander cross country team, showed up at 6 a.m. ready to run.

”Though the summer was physically and mentally demanding, I feel this training helped me the most as I was able to train with the high school athletes that would

Ethan had the opportunity to represent the Westridge Cougars and Grand Island on a national level, and it was an opportunity he didn’t take lightly.

”At the race, knowing that I would be representing my city and state at the national level definitely caused me to become more nervous,” Ethan said. “But those nerves allowed me to push my body much further than I thought I could,” he said.

Ethan placed 9th out of 189 athletes in the boys championship 4k race in Louisville, Kentucky.

Finding out his time, 13:34.7, was another shock, as it was the fastest pace he ever ran.

”All of this has made me more and more grateful for the people I have had to help me,” Ethan said. “Through all of the training and running that had to be done more often than not, I had someone running right next to me, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it.”

Ethan plans to keep running as long as his body allows. His goals are to run or play soccer at the collegiate level, while pursuing his career interests in aerospace engineering.

His advice to younger runners could be applied to many things in life: “If you can stay determined and passionate about it you can succeed and do great things. Even if you’re not the best runner, being able to start and finish a race knowing you gave it your all is the best thing any runner can do,” Ethan said.