There's still life in the last lane for Grayslake runner
Jack Aho is ready to dominate his Illinois opponents in distance running one final time.
Not that Aho has much left to prove. He finished his high school cross-country career in the fall with his second-straight Class 2A state cross-country title, as well as grabbing numerous top-five finishes at the state track and field meet.
This year, however, his usual offseason training took a bit of a detour: to California.
A senior at Grayslake Central High School, Aho ran in the Foot Lock Cross-Country National Championships against 39 fellow top distance runners. After a rough start in which he stumbled three-quarters of a mile in -- last place at the time -- he finished in 18th at the elite event in San Diego.
"Mentally, I was kind of shaken by that," Aho told the Lake County Gazette. "That was kind of, like, a little upsetting,”
But Aho is using the experience as a motivator.
“After something like that happens, it's kind of like, you know, I still feel like I need to prove myself,” he said. “So it's something that always sits in your mind and kind of like motivates you to give that little bit more at the end of a race or something.”
His competitive nature goes back to elementary school, where he would regularly do well in running tests. He also played soccer until his freshman season, when he found track as a good mix of those two activities.
“I've always been competitive and, like, the running and the competitiveness came together with track and made me really, like, enjoy the races,” he said.
This year during his indoor season, Aho — who has signed to run for Michigan — set personal bests in the 3,200- and 1,600-meter runs, and also won the Northern Lake County Conference indoor titles in those events. He also finished first in the 1,600 at the Illinois Top Times Championship on March 25 in Bloomington.
“My progress is ahead of where I was last year, and I feel really confident heading into the outdoor season, so it was a good indoor season, I think, to start off the new year of track,” he said.