XC Countdown: Justin Kelly of Cherokee HS

Justin Kelly - SR


7th Holmdel returner @ 16:12 ✓
4:26 1600 PR ✓
9:29 3200 PR ✓
15:51 5k PR ✓

Interview from 7/19/17 
122 days until the Meet of Champions

Q. How are you training this summer?

I took off a little bit and ran every other day after States in spring. We really started to ramp up training a couple weeks ago. We have practice twice a week now, we're still pretty low milage about 40-45 [miles] per week but we'll max out around 65-70. Personally I've been doing some cross training with swimming, lifting and biking but for us, the harder workouts will start around late August and early September because we peaked a little early last year.

Q. When are you opening up your season?

We'll open up for the Cherokee Challenge, it's only 2 miles but it's a lot of fun and a great way to get things rolling again.

Q. Based on your Holmdel time you are going to be running with a lot of the top guys this season. How are you approaching races knowing that?

It's gonna be a little different, but I'm excited to see what happens this season. I'm really hoping to stay healthy because my injuries have been pretty rough. Hopefully my times drop a lot and and I'm up competing with the front pack.

Q. How did you feel about your season last year?

I was out 4 weeks indoors. First with my knees, then when I was starting to come back I got hurt again with my hips. I really couldn't do very much training, but I did race a little. I was really hoping for a good indoor season and a great outdoor season but it just didn't happen that way. For cross country, we did a lot of good training, but in the end we just didn't peak for the right time. If you look at my MOC time it wasn't what I wanted at all, and regionals went pretty poorly. But this year we really want to peak for the right time, adding in a lot of extra stuff, staying healthy and adding the cross training along with little things will get us ready when we need to be. I also grew a lot last year, so I feel like that should help with staying healthy.

Q. Would you say a focal point for you this summer is staying healthy?

Definitely, cross training is huge for me. I've been getting a lot of strength work in with core, lifting, and hurdle drills. I'm really trying to do everything I can with stretching, rolling, and every time I feel something is coming on or not right I'll pay extra attention to it, or rest if need be.

Q. Cherokee graduated two of its top runners, Jack Shea [NAU] and Nick Falk [Colorado State]. Are you losing out on training partners because of that?

I'll still run with Nick a lot before he leaves for college, but for the most part after that I'll be training alone. We have a rising sophomore, Chris Spisak, that likes to go really hard on his runs, so I'll run with him sometimes, but for workouts I'll probably be alone.

Q. Who are looking to race most this year?

The guys in group 4, Justin Cornetta and Will Hare are really good and hopefully will be pushing me up front. Group 4 should be a great race. Devin Hart has been on a tear so he'll probably go out at MOC and do his thing. Chris Romero also had a great outdoor season. Him and Hart just love to take it from the gun and grind the whole race, so it'll make for some fun racing.

Q. How would you define your racing style?

I feel like I have good leg speed but I kinda just roll with the pace.  When we do any speed work I'm usually the one pushing and making everyone work, even with Jack and Nick last year. I feel like my kick will be a lot better this year, so maybe if I can hang on and see what I have left, I can do really well.

Q. Do you have any big goals set for the season?

My coach has some pretty high goals for me, he said around 15:40 at Holmdel but I don't know about that. I'm just thinking go under 16 and see how far I can get under from there. But I definitely want to win our county and conference meet, sectionals, and our group meet may be tough with good competition, but we'll see. As for MOC, I wanna try for top 3 or top 5.

Q. College Plans?

So far I've looked at St Joe's, Monmouth, PITT, and I may take a look at Providence and Bucknell as well.


The XC Countdown is a series of interviews previewing the 2017 cross country season brought to us by Jordan Brannan, a two-time winner of the Indoor Meet of Champions 3200 meter.  He'll be joining NJ MileSplit for some summer cross country coverage. Brannan graduated from Colts Neck this past spring and will be attending Iona College this coming fall. - Robert Kellert