Craig’s Meister making it look easy
The miles are endless. Race day consists of properly hydrating and feeding the body, knowing full well the punishment ahead.
The race itself is even more grueling. For high school boys, it’s 5,000 meters of hell where competitors push themselves to the limit, often times needing help to stay on their feet at the finish line.
Tommy Meister is making it all look easy.
The Janesville Craig High School junior is undefeated this season. Meister has five invitational titles, including a win at the prestigious Midwest Invitational last Saturday.
Winning is only part of the story for Meister. His times and margins of victory are even more impressive. Meister has the state’s fastest time of the season, a course-record 15:29 set at the Midwest Invitational, and is only one second behind current Duke University runner Josh Lund’s school-record time of 15:28.
“To be honest, I didn’t even know the school had a record for cross country until someone mentioned it to me a couple weeks ago,” Meister said. “If I can break it, that would be great, but it’s not something I really have thought about.
“The team comes first, and if the team does well, everything else will work out.”
Co-head coach Brian Lawton has had a long line of prolific runners at Craig. Meister may turn out to be the best. No Janesville boys runner has ever won a WIAA state title, but with Meister’s times continuing to drop, that may change next month.
Lawton said there are a myriad of reasons Meister is ahead of the pack this season—the main one being his physical maturity.
“There is no substitute for putting in the work in the off-season, whether it’s piling up the miles or working hard in the weight room. Tommy did both,” Lawton said.
“Some athletes that are as talented as Tommy tend to overtrain or constantly believe they need to do more. Tommy listens, trusts us, remains open-minded and is patient. Those qualities are sometimes hard to find in elite high school athletes.”
Meister began running competitively in third grade, but he admits to not getting serious about cross country until last year. He built up to a point over the summer where he ran 50 miles a week, while also finding time to lift in the expansive Craig weight room.
Now thicker through the chest and the legs, Meister has run away from all challengers this season.
“To me, none of the sacrifices would be worth it if I wasn’t having fun,” Meister said. “But we’ve got a great team and great coaches, and that makes it all worthwhile. It has been a lot of fun this season.”
Meister has run at state in Wisconsin Rapids twice, including finishing 21st last year with a time of 16:36. He is already more than a minute ahead of that time this season, with invitationals coming up the next two weekends.
Is a state title the ultimate goal for Meister?
“I don’t really like that course up there a whole lot, but I think it has to do more with the competition than the course itself,” Meister said. “I know my times are better this year, but I’m sure a lot of other guys’ are, too.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s still about the team. That’s more important.”
So, as you can see, Tommy Meister remains a grounded and levelheaded student/athlete.
On a cross country course, that’s a different story. He’s leader of the pack.