Once he was convinced to run cross country, freshman Juan Ramirez didn’t waste any time establishing himself as one of the area’s best talents
Even Juan Ramirez himself was surprised.
He started his first cross country race, an August trip to Anderson County, fast, but not blazing. As the race wore on, Eudora's high-flying freshman pushed up, however.
A no-name when the gun sounded, Ramirez ran his way right into the consciousness of area competitors in the second half of the race.
He went on to finish seventh in his first cross country race, an impressive mark not only because he's already improved on his time and his placings, but also because freshman Juan Ramirez is a freshman.
He's a freshman in every sense, including to cross country. He ran track one year in junior high, opted for a job over high mileage training in the summer and in the first few weeks of his high school career has laid claim as one of the area's fastest runners.
"I really didn't know I'd do so well," he said. "I just ran my race and did what I was supposed to do. I trust my training."
Cross country wasn't an easy decision for Ramirez, one of two Cardinal freshmen who have invigorated the boys cross country team.
New to the district as an eight grader, he immediately fit the mold of what Paul Boone was looking for. Boone had a vested interest in getting Ramirez to try track a year ago. Not only is he the high school cross country coach, he coaches the middle school track program as well.
"He'd been in eighth grade all year and I had my eye on him," Boone said. "I talked to him and encouraged him to come out for track. He's got the body style of a runner.
"We try to encourage as many kids a we can to go out for track and he as one of those guys we really encouraged."
As it worked out, in landing Ramirez on the track team, he landed him on the cross country squad.
It came down to trust, Ramirez said.
He also played football and competed in wrestling in eighth grade, and he nearly opted to go out for soccer in high school, but Boone's reassurances and confidence proved too much.
"At first I had my doubts about coming out for cross country, but I decided was something I really liked and wanted to do," Ramirez said. "Mr. Boone was just supportive and told me I should go out for it and that I'd be really good at it.
"He has great faith in me. He put trust in me that I'd be a good runner. I trusted him and it's worked out for me."
Ramirez roasted his pervious personal best Thursday at the Wellsville Invitational, finishing third in the five-kilometer race in 18 minutes, 11 seconds. That's already 12 seconds better than what he ran in a seventh-place performance at Anderson County.
He's not nearly done either, he said.
He took part in the team's summer cross country camp and ran when he could through the summer, Ramirez said. He's still getting in shape. When he gets there, it will be even more noticeable as Boone's workouts are designed from the ground up to prepare for the regional and state races, not the early races in which he is already shredding courses.
"I can do a lot better," he said. "For this year, I haven't reached my full potential. We keep improving and hopefully by the end of the season I'll be under 18 (minutes)."