Salute to Seniors: Justin Walden

Before the class of 2020 makes their final farewells to high school cross country and track and field, we want to give everyone a chance to salute them one more time!FLRunners invites all seniors to tell their stories from the past four years.

Today we salute North Miami senior, Justin Walden.

What was your most memorable race/throw/jump/vault/moment?
When I brought my team from 5th place to 1st place in the 4by400m relay to qualify for states.

What was your greatest accomplishment?
 Being Able to go to college for the sport that I love.

Who would you consider your biggest role model over your four years competing?
Definitely my coach. My coach taught me to basically believe in myself & not just say that I do. He gave me lots of knowledge , knowledge in which i feel like I would have been ignorant to if I went to any other school.
If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running or field career in high school?
My mindset! I say that because you can work so hard but if you don't truly hold yourself accountable or believe in yourself, your progression will not be as effective as it can be. Also, my eating and drinking habits. I would eat foods that have my body feeling weak and I wouldn't drink enough.

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome? How did you overcome them?
Being overweight and having my first injury in my hamstring my first track meet of my junior year. As some experts may know that those two can come hand in hand. To overcome this, I made better eating choices and took things like stretching, drinking, and also overthinking more serious. My hamstring still continued to tweak a little but I would not let that get to me as it did before so I just still used the routine that I used before to get through it the first time.

What will you miss the most?
The crowds because it's nothing like Miami crowds, the competition, as you know Florida has the best athletes, and my teammates because we are going our separate ways to pursue our dreams. All in all, I'm going to miss home.

What advice would you give to younger athletes?
Start NOW and be CONSISTENT! it's never hard to perform good ONCE, it's hard to stay at the top. We as young athletes let that good performance get our heads and instead of doing it again, we start to slack off which is not the way to go. Also, do NOT let the negative thoughts get to you, snap out of it! I think it's impossible to say "think positive" all the time because their are some days when we don't want to keep going and just want to give up, or sometimes we overthink to point where we doubt ourselves but I say that to say this, while all of this is happening, understand that your will to push pass these thoughts and doubts and keep going is what is going to make you and how well you're performance goes.

What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?
A major influence because he believed in me more than I believed in myself so when I perform well and I am shocked at the performance, he'll be like "I told you so". He also taught lots (I mean LOTSSSSS) of life lessons which he called "Pearls of Wisdom" that gave me a different outlook on life and how to see and handle things, even thought I didn't want to hear it sometimes.

What are your post-high school or college plans?
I will be attending Indian Hills CC for the next 1-2 years and pursue my athletic and academic elsewhere after that.

Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?

My mom, my coach, and supporters and friends that believed in me and showed love. Without those people, I don't think I would've been continuing my career.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Fear and Doubt doesn't exist anywhere except in the mind. So keep going, even when it feels like nothing is going right because it gets GREATER..LATER