CRESTON — Nodaway Valley alum Josh Baudler started the college cross country season on a high note for Southwestern Community College, turning in a record run for his first outing of the year, the Bill Buxton Invite at Simpson College in Indianola.
Baudler was ninth in the 6 kilometer race, clocking in at 18:21.4 and he was very happy with the start to his sophomore season.
“I don’t know a time that I’ve felt this healthy, so that’s definitely a good thing. Recovery, this year, has been huge for me,” Baudler said. “I’m not satisfied yet, obviously. Where I’m at I’m happy with, but I know I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to get to where I want to be at the end of the year.”
Baudler would’ve liked to finish as an All-American his freshman season, so he’s shooting for that this fall. He also expects competition to be a little stiffer this year now that more foreign exchange runners are coming into the country competing for many teams the Spartans will face.
“Our team is a lot stronger, so if we can keep the team together and keep everybody healthy, I’m hoping for All-American and we’re hoping for top-10 as a team,” Baudler said.
On a personal note, Baudler said he knows how to strategies a college-length race better now that he’s in his second season. In college, preseason races are often 6K in length, but most races are 8K.
“That was one of my big things in high school. Before each race my dad would come up to me, give me a fist bump and say ‘strategy’ because I had one for every race,” Baudler said. “I feel stronger this year and have found out how to build up my leg stamina a bit from last year. With it being my last year potentially, that’s definitely good for fueling the fire and is some motivation to go out strong and give it all I’ve got.”
Baudler, who competed for SWCC last spring in track and field, said he likes cross country more simply because he enjoys the autumn season and being outside during that time.
“There’s different aspects of each one I like more,” Baudler said. “Fall being my favorite season helps me like cross country more. You get a country-like feeling when you’re out running on a golf course. Track is also nice because it brings different energy and is a different atmosphere.”
At Nodaway Valley, Baudler competed in basketball, baseball, track and field and cross country, and football at one point or another during his career. He graduated in 2020.
One of Baudler’s biggest high school highlights was becoming the first individual state champion for Nodaway Valley in 2019.
SWCC head coach Scott Vicker said that Baudler is very motivated going into this season and has already shown improvement from last season based on workouts and meets to this point.
“I think the biggest key for Josh is to continue doing all the little things correctly over the next few weeks as we finish out Phase III of our training plan. If he can do that and stay healthy, then the hard part is done,” Vicker said. “At that point, he just needs to show up and do what he does best, which is compete hard on race day. As we start sharpening up for our big meets in the stretch run of the season, it is going to be fun to see just how low he can get his times.”