Portage junior Tyler Jones earned himself a spot at Saturday’s WIAA state cross country championships by finishing in third place at last Saturday’s Division 2 Deerfield Sectional. Jones is the first Portage boys cross country runner to qualify for the state meet since 2013, when the Portage boys qualified as a team, finishing in 15th place in Division 2.
Jones has put together an impressive season, finishing second in six of the 10 varsity races he’s competed in this season. His other finishes include a third place at Saturday’s sectional, two fourth places — at the Badger North Conference Meet on Oct. 14 and at the Cam-Rock Invite on Aug. 31 — and a sixth place at the Badger Challenge on Sept. 12.
Despite not winning a race all season, Jones does appear to be peaking at the right time. His sectional time of 16 minutes, 29 seconds is his best of the season and was the fourth time he broke the 17-minute mark while running in a 5,000-meter race this season.
Before Jones runs in the biggest meet of the season, he took time to answer a few questions so we can get to know Portage’s talented cross country runner. Here is what he had to say:
What is your goal for the state meet? Finish within the top 30 for my race.
What is your favorite cross country course you’ve run, and why? Reedsburg’s course, because a majority of the race is in the woods where I feel I can go faster and there is only one hill you go up two times.
Where is your favorite place to run when you’re training? Anywhere around town. Running in town allows me to discover new routes and run on different types of pavement (grass, dirt, blacktop, etc.).
What runners do you look up to, and why? Jacob Hamm, because he was a recent runner for Portage, and he was successful as both an individual and with a team. He also competed in college (at UW-Green Bay) after high school. And Cade Ferron of Beaver Dam, because he is in my grade and I know him from basketball. I hope to compete against him more next year.
What are your race-day superstitions? Each day of a race, the first thing I do when I wake up is chug a glass or two of water. I try to eat the same things for breakfast, and lunch if we have an afternoon race. I make sure I eat my Quaker peanut butter chocolate chip granola bar and drink my Blue Cherry Gatorade.
What is your routine before the start of a race? I like to preview/walk the course before I race on it. That way I can visualize where I will be able to make moves and lose other runners on the course. Then I go for a light jog and do dynamic stretches. FIfteen minutes before the race is usually when I go to the start line to do some more jogs and build-ups to get my heart rate up.
What music do you listen to before a race? Definitely rap music. Rap gets me pumped up for races and gives me a lot of adrenaline for some reason. I don’t understand how you could listen to slow music before a race; it just makes me want to fall asleep.
What do you usually eat the night before a race? Carbs. Usually a pasta like spaghetti, fettuccini alfredo, or mac and cheese. And of course tons of bread.
What has been the most memorable moment of your high school career thus far? Stepping across the finish line last Saturday (at sectionals), knowing I had punched my ticket to the state meet for the first time. The feeling is very surreal.
What one word describes your personality when you are running in a race? Happy.
Favorite candy: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
Favorite TV show: “The Office.”
Favorite movie: “Horrible Bosses 2.”
Favorite pro or college sports teams: Packers, Brewers, Miami Heat, Wisconsin and Michigan State.
Favorite pro or college athlete: Davante Adams, Kevin Durant and Miles Bridges.
Dream vacation: Hawaii.
Dream car: Audi R8.
Person you would most like to meet: Aaron Rodgers.
Advice you would give to young runners in Portage: Work hard every day and you can achieve any goal you set your mind to. But have fun because it goes by fast!
Who or what are you going to dress as for Halloween? To be determined.