By Jeremy McDonald
INDEPENDENCE, Ore.– It was a cool early January afternoon at Central High School where 2016 Central-graduate Josh Peterson is putting in work for the 2019 Track and Field season at Lane Community College.
It’s a comeback season of sorts for Peterson, who took last season off from college due to personal reasons to get his mind right and hopefully one day make a comeback down the road.
As he stretched out for his workout on the scoreboard side of the football field, there was a sense of home and thankfulness in the fact that he was able to be here training for this second chance at his Track and Field career.
During his time off, he battled through a bout of depression. He dropped out of LCC after helping the 4×400 team win the NWAC Championship his freshman year due to not being able to financially afford college or living in Eugene, the then about-to-be-sophomore drop out put his collegiate career on hold for the time being as he started on a spiral down into a dark direction.
He didn’t do much outside of watching Netflix and watching TV. He worked out sparingly as he tried to figure out his next move.
Barely two-years out of High School trying to figure out what to do next and trying to pick himself off the mat, one of the biggest challenges that a young adult is confronted with after their formative years.
But slowly he did, coming into his own as an unattached runner during his second Spring out of High School. Meaning that he competed in track races against college teams even though he did not have a team he was running for. He was his own coach, his own person to answer to. All while trying to compete and getting back into the groove of competing at the highest level.
“That prepared myself mentally for anything because when you’re going out there and everyone is basically running for a college team, so your running up against those guys,” said Peterson. “There still college athlete’s, so it’s pretty hard to compete against that.”
There was some fear behind it lining up against those athletes adds Peterson, but once the gun sounded, it’s fair game as he raced in the 400 and 800 meters. PR-ing in the 800 with a 2:02, coming close to his goal of 2-flat in one of the two times he ran the two-lap race. Peterson also came near to PR-ing in the 400-meter race as well.
In the 400-race, Peterson came close to quitting because he was clocking times in the 52 second range 52.25 and in the 52.60 range at Western Oregon University. But then that’s when he ran a 51.89 in the one-lap race at a meet in Canby that revived his confidence to have him keep pushing forward.
“That was like a home meet for me and I wanted to prove myself there and I didn’t,” said Peterson of the frustration at the WOU Meet. “So when I went to Canby, I ran that 51.89 that made me believe that I could do it.”
The next meet, at Linfield, was where he PR’d in the 800-meter race with his former-and-current team in Lane Community College was there competing. And it added all the more pressure to push himself against his former teammates.
“I had two guys in my heat from Lane, and I wanted to prove that I could hang and that I could run a 50. They ended up running 50 and I ran a 51.12, which is like a tenth off my PR, so I was really impressed with that,” said Peterson. “That was basically the point where I knew I could comeback and run at a competitive level again.”
Sometimes life gives you a challenge to confront all in the opportunity to better oneself. Some never take advantage, others like Peterson however, take advantage of the challenge in front of him. Everyone’s paths to their own specific goals and it’s normally never the same. And while there were opportunities to go to other Junior Colleges, there was something special at Lane Community College that he couldn’t pass up.
“That’s the school I wanted to go to, I had a few other community colleges wanting me to go there and stuff like that. But Lane was the choice that it just feels right and being there the first-time it was an incredible experience, it’s not like any other JuCo in the Nation,” said Peterson. “It’s crazy, you’re in Tracktown USA and you don’t get to see people you don’t see everyday.
“It’s cool to see some people that just show up on the track. Like they could be professionals, they could be people at Oregon and it’s just awesome to see that experience going on there and you got things going there at Lane. Competing at a high level and win Championships and we’ve done that for the past, going on seven-years if we win this year and that’s our goal.”
There’s also that family feeling as well at Lane said Peterson, and he’s grateful for the opportunity that was given to him by those around him to give him an opportunity to attempt to live his dream as a College Athlete.
“January came around and I decided to come back onto the track. The decision came with my coach at Lane, Grady (O’Connor). He ended up telling me that everyone’s journey is different and just to stick with my path and stay me. So I try to stay on my path,” said Peterson. “My former coach here, Mr. Cirino. He helped me out and use this track here and let me use the facility and it was really nice because I was able to stick around and work out a lot and prove myself.”