Josh Peron can be viewed as an average teenager in that he loves to play soccer and basketball with his friends, spend time reading and practice playing the cello.
There is nothing average about the Frontier High junior, though, when it comes to running and what he is willing to do to ensure success, both in cross country and track and field. Consider that he first made a name for himself as a sprinter and hurdler during his freshman and sophomore winter and spring seasons.
While he had some success in cross country as well, it wasn't until this year that he truly began to blossom as a distance runner. The sacrifices he has made in regards to time and money to achieve that success have put Peron in a position to be considered one of the favorites for a state title this fall. Look no further than at what he accomplished in September, winning the 55th annual McQuaid Invitation (15:21.10) and the East Aurora Invitational in a personal-best time of 15:12.63.
Throw in a first-place finish (16:24.93) in the West Seneca Invitational and second-place finish (personal-best 16:11.25) at the Knox-C Invitational, both 5,000-meter races, and it's easy to see how he has jumped onto everyone's radar this fall.
"I've definitely spent a lot of time and money on running in order to reach my goals," said Peron, 16, who runs 2.5 hours every day except for days he is racing. "I've spent money to make sure I have the proper trainers and spikes, rollers, different ice packs and other injury prevention stuff. And, I've noticed that it has made a difference bit pre- and post-race."
He has also benefitted from working with new Frontier coach Julian Blake, who has introduced him to newer training methods such as workouts based on 5K times. Peron has embraced the new ideas and is happy with the results, adding that "coach definitely knows what he is doing".
Blake, meanwhile, is just as impressed with Peron. He's watched him for a few weeks now and sees something special in him.
"He's been outstanding; he's a very coachable young man," Blake said. "As a junior he has good focus on what he wants to achieve and he knows what he has to sacrifice to do it. His goal is to be number one in Section 6 and he's headed in that direction.
"There are some strong boys running in the section so it's not something that is going to be easy. He's going to have to earn that spot. He's very committed to training, though, and he's very detailed in what he needs to do. He's very capable of reaching his goal."
Peron's effort at McQuaid was just one example of why he can reach that goal. He combined his ability as a sprinter with his approach to cross country, sprinting to make up a 50-meter gap over the final 60 meters to earn the victory.
"It's my hunt," said Peron, who would like to run at a Division I school and possibly study biomedical engineering. "I start off races slow and I let the other runners jump out and get their nervous energy out. Then I start to pick off runners one by one. I chase people and run them down. It's a methodology I have used for a while and even use it in track events.
"At McQuaid, in the second mile, I moved into a pack of five and stayed there. I think sprinting helped me tremendously over the last 50 meters. I really did accelerate and I don't think I could have gone as fast if I didn't have a sprinting background. It's a lot of fun to be able to still have that energy [at the end of a race]."
Peron doesn't envision continuing to run distance, however, during the winter and spring. He loves to sprint and is eager to get back on the track and attack the shorter and middle distances. He'd probably run a longer distance if the team needed him to but the idea of establishing himself as a dominant sprinter remains a primary objective.
He said he likes the spring season a little better than the winter - the warmer weather in late spring helps loosen him up - and that his favorite event is the 800.
"This [distance] is a lot more taxing on me with the weekly mileage being so much higher," Peron said. "The fall helps me going into the winter, though, because it gives me a base so I can start to work immediately with speed training."