State Record Snapshot - Josh McDougal Masters the 5K

While there might not be much track going on in New York State, there is plenty of history to pore through. In our time off, we are looking to revisit all of the State Records for the Outdoor Season. Who these athletes were, where their marks came from, and where are they now. We're releasing "Snapshots Of A State Record," where you can learn what it takes, to put your mark on history. Tune in!

We are now looking at the records in a few events that are not at the outdoor States meet but definitely need to be highlighted. We look here at the 5K distance for the guys. Enjoy!

- - -

The 5K distance is associated with cross country way more than track. During the outdoor season NY runners mainly get a shot at it during outdoor Nationals, but it is not a favorite distance for the state's runners going down to NC. There have been occasional successes for NY runners there, and in the last ten NBON meets the top 10 finishes for the state's 5Kers have included Tyler Berg of Burnt Hills (2019, 5th), Conor Lundy and Joseph Prunty of Fordham Prep (2015, 2nd and 8th), Steve Shine of Briarcliff (2013, 8th), Dan Lennon of Peru (2012, 3rd), Paddy Grandinali of Warwick Valley (2012, 7th), and Cohen Miles-Rath of Wayland-Cohocton (2011, 6th).

Lennon at 14:37.32, Lundy at 14:40.61, and Berg at 14:40.81, had solid and fairly similar times, but they were all about a half minute behind a guy who like Lennon was from Peru but was home schooled instead of attending the HS. And the top mark was not set at Nationals but at World Juniors, so this is indeed a special story of a guy who would go on to win an NCAA D1 XC championship.


The fact that only a few scattered (and available) XC images of Josh McDougal can be dug up to accompany an article on one of the top distance runner phenoms ever from NY speaks volumes. As a home schooler, McDougal was not eligible to participate in the relatively well-covered NY scholastic competitions, and he graduated in 2004, before MileSplit was able to provide a well-stocked archive of images of distance runners. McDougal trained just with his very fast younger brother Jordan and with no official coach in the apple orchards of the Peru hills west of Lake Champlain and about ten miles south of Plattsburgh. His racing season often didn't really begin until most of the athletes in the state had turned in their uniforms. Unaffected by the grind that most high school distance runners go through for their teams, McDougal was ready to explode when the postseason arrived. Always though he would be running in open meets outside of scholastic competitions and usually out of state, and results for quite a few of these  competitions are long gone from online view if they were ever there at all.

McDougal first came to public attention when he ran an 8:26.48 to set an NY sophomore class record in the 3000m in a Boston High Performance meet on May 25, 2002. McDougal really got on the public radar as a junior running under the Runner X local club team colors when he got the worst place at Van Cortlandt Park in the 2002 Foot Locker Northeast qualifiers -- that is, 9th place in the era prior to 2004 when only eight runners from the four regions got tickets to Nationals. McDougal had been leading coming off the bridge at VCP but faded due to leaden legs caused by overtraining. That lesson about the need for rest stuck with him, and  the eye-popping results soon began to roll out starting with a visit to Boston University on February 15, 2003 when he broke Miles Irish's 1983 state record for the indoor 3000m with an 8:14.10 while running with collegians in the Valentine Day #3 open meet of the Boston High Performance Series. A month later in Hyattsville MD he ran the 2 Mile at the Nike Indoor Classic (which later merged and morphed into the New Balance Indoor Nationals) and finished 5th in 9:09.23, one place behind the then NY record holder in the indoor 2 mile Brian Dalpiaz of Sayville and two places behind Galen Rupp of Portland OR, a guy that McDougal would come to know very well in the following years. He started off the outdoor season in Buffalo at the USATF National Youth Athletics Championships where he finished 2nd to Rupp in the 1500m finals and also took 1st in the 5K at 15:13.97, a time he would lower considerably the next year. A week later at the Adidas Outdoor Nationals (later NBON), he ran the 2 mile rather than the 5K and finished 6th in 9:03.82, one place ahead of Rupp and two in front of Dalpiaz.

McDougal's storied senior season began in XC where after a few upstate USATF and other open meets he ran the fastest 5K at VCP ever by a HS guy with a 15:08 at the NYRR club championship in early November. Two weeks later he was back at VCP again as he ran a fairly similar time as in 2002 at Foot Locker Northeast, but this time it earned him a 4th place ticket to San Diego. At Nationals he also finished 4th (Rupp was 2nd), which is the third best ever NY finish along with Rye's Michael Collins in 1982,  St. Anthony's Charlie Millioen in 2000, and Rush-Henrietta's Mickey Burke in 2013, and behind the 3rds of Tupper Lake's Marty Beauchamp in 1980 and Shenendehowa's Steve Murdock in 2006 and all-time NY best of a 2nd for John Trautmann of Monroe-Woodbury in 1984. XC was still not quite over for him as he cut back on competition for the indoor season before breaking into national headlines at the New Balance Games at the Armory on January 24, 2004 by blasting past Rupp in the last 300 meters to take the 2 mile in an all-time NY best indoors of 8:50.40 to break Dalpiaz's 2003 mark by 11 seconds and also set a senior NY best in the 3000m of 8:15.0. XC finally wrapped up for him on February 8th as he finished 5th on an 8K course in Indianapolis at US Juniors to earn a spot on the America team that finished 7th in Brussels at World Juniors on March 21, with McDougal the third guy in on his squad in 49th place.

The 2004 outdoor season seems to have begun for McDougal again in early June at a Boston High Performance race when he ran an 8:08.34 in the 3000m, second best ever behind  behind only Trautmann's 1986 record at Penn Relays. Two weeks later at Aididas Nationals he finished 2nd in the 2 mile with an NY record of 8:48.11, shattering John Gregorek of St. Anthony's 1978 mark by more than two seconds. McDougal's time is still the fastest ever 2 mile for NY, as Northport's Mikey Brannigan's 2015 record for the general distance is a conversion of a shorter 3200m time. McDougal had still another record to set in July as he went to US Juniors at College Station TX and finished 2nd to Rupp in the 5K in 14:24.88 to earn a place on the American team for World Juniors in Grosseto, Italy. At Worlds he finished in 12th at 14:05.55 and 15 seconds behind Rupp in 9th, but McDougal's time was still almost ten seconds faster than Matt Centrowitz Sr, had run in an international meet in 1973 to set an NY record that would last for 31 years.

Both McDougal and his brother Jordan went on to run for Liberty University, and Josh had a huge amount of success there right off the bat as he ran undefeated in his freshman XC season in 2004 until NCAA D1 Nationals, where he finished 13th. He won many Big South conference championships and Southeast D1 XC regionals at Liberty and impressively took three wins at the huge D1 Pre-Nationals in October during his last three seasons. Everything came together for him in his senior XC season when he outdueled Rupp of the University of Oregon at D1 Nationals to win by a second, with former Tully star and future Olympian Lopez Lomong of Northern Arizona University in 3rd.

Overtraining and injuries seemed to catch up with McDougal maybe even before he graduated from Liberty in 2008, and he spent many years out of the action before attempting a comeback in 2014. The last result we can spot for him is a win in the Schenectady 15K in November of that year.

Note that the 10K distance is famous at the Olympic level, but not so much in HS sports. Decades ago the Empire State Games were a major part of the NY T&F season every July, and many HS athletes took a crack at the 10K at least into the mid 1990s. The top time run for an ESG 10K appears to have been a 31:03.7 by Ben McIntosh of Auburn in 1985.

Finish of 2007 NCAA D1 race -- McDougal vs. Rupp

Interview with Josh McDougal before his final college year