RANTOUL — For some people running is just a hobby. For the clan of RTHS Senior Jonathan Gossett it is more of a family passion.
John Brotherton, Gossett’s grandfather, holds the all-time record for Rantoul Township High School cross country team.
Having his grandpa hold the record puts a little extra pep in Gossett’s step.
“My grandpa has the record, and it adds a lot of pressure,” Gossett said. “A lot of that pressure I put on my self though. I know no matter how good I do he and the rest of my family will always support me.”
Brotherton said having his grandson run for the same program he had so much success with is an amazing experience.
“It’s fantastic; he is such a good person,” Brotherton said. “His character and the way he conducts himself will be around a lot longer than his athletic ability.”
Although his athletic ability may not be around forever, Brotherton loves what is grandson can do on the course.
“He is bigger than I was and am; he has more potential than I did,” Brotherton said. “He runs smart and runs hard. Running smart is not something all kids can do.”
Brotherton was not the only family member to precede Gossett at RTHS.
“My brother Caleb ran cross country as well, and it is really cool to work with the same coaches he worked with,” Gossett said.
One of those coaches is Nick Cole, who is an assistant coach for the cross country team. Cole said Gossett has made great strides in his four years at RTHS.
“One of the main things we have been working on with Jonathan is building the volume of his mileage,” Cole said. “This requires Jonathan to commit to not only completing his runs/workouts at practices but also putting the mileage in on his own. Jonathan has made great improvements in this area over the last four seasons.”
Gossett understood what he had to do to make himself better.
“Comparing to my freshman year I didn’t know how to pace myself, and now three miles feels like nothing,” Gossett said. “Right now my easy run is 6 1/2 miles.”
Not only can Jonathan run, he can lead just as well.
“Jonathan often leads through his actions, not his words. We have practice at 5:30 a.m. four days a week, and Jonathan regularly picks up three different runners and brings them to and from practice,” Cole said. “When runners are finishing a practice or a meet, he is one of the first to walk the course backwards and cheer his teammates on.”
Leading the team is a lot easier for Gossett because of the special bond he says they have.
“Having the close bond is what makes cross country my favorite sport,” Gossett said. “We have pasta dinners on Fridays as pre-race meals, and they are the best.”
Although the off-the-course stuff means more to Gossett, he still has business to finish on the course.
“My primary goal is to make it to state,” Gossett said. “I would love to get under 16 on the state course.”
Cole also has the state meet goal for Gossett.
“Last year Jonathan set a huge PR (personal record)at sectionals and missed state by a little over 20 seconds,” Cole said. “Jonathan has committed to making the adjustments to his training and mindset to make this possible. The last three years, Jonathan has come on strong at the end of the season. We are hoping to continue the positive trend and hopefully end at Detweiller Park in November,”
Gossett’s PR is 16:36, which came in sectionals last season. So far this year he has run 17:30.
After high school, Gossett is unsure on what he wants to do.
“I have communicated with colleges, but I’m not sure if I am going to run cross country yet,” Gossett said. “If I do run, Millikin and Augustana are my top two. If I don’t run, I will probably attend Parkland in the pathways program or possibly just go straight to the University of Illinois.
You can contact Ryan Birch at Rbirch@Rantoulpress.com or on twitter @RyanBirchRP