By Teddy Rydquist
Review Sports Contributor
Simply by glancing at the record board located inside the gymnasium at Lake Orion High School, one can tell Josie Arnold is one of the most accomplished runners to ever compete for the Dragons.
A member of the 4-by-400 and 4-by-800-meter school-record relay teams, she is also in second-place all-time on the individual 800-meter list at 2:17.28.
A graduate of the class of 2019, Arnold elected to further her student-athlete career at the University of Detroit Mercy, signing to run both cross country and track for the Titans. Last competing in cross country as a sophomore in 2016, this new commitment required a change to her training approach.
“The switch from high school to college was difficult at first,” Arnold shared. “We had to bump my mileage up a lot. I went from running about 15 miles weekly in high school to about 35 per week.
“So, I think that helped a lot with making me a stronger runner and being able to handle the distance.”
Exemplifying the effectiveness of this mileage bump, Arnold was named Detroit Mercy’s “Most Improved Runner” during the program’s awards announcement on March 26.
Each collegiate cross country race is at least five-kilometers (roughly 3.1 miles) in distance. Some meets, including the Horizon League Championships on Nov. 2 for example, are six-kilometers (about 3.72 miles).
Running a 21:57 in the Titans’ first meet of the season at the Detroit Mercy Titan Invitational at Cass Benton Park in Northville on Sept. 7, Arnold improved to a season-best 21:22 in the team’s last five-kilometer meet of the season at the Canisius Alumni Classic in Buffalo, New York on Oct. 19.
Opening their season with a fourth-place showing in their hometown meet, the Titans also placed inside the top-20 at the National Catholic Championships at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana on Sept. 20.
Although the team brought up the rear of the 10-team field at the Horizon League Championships, there is reason for optimism moving forward around head coach Guy Murray’s program. Of the nine runners listed on the roster, five are freshmen.
“I think the season went pretty well, we had a couple of runners who were redshirted,” Arnold pointed out. “Next year should be even better when those team members can compete, but overall, I think we grew as a team and it kept getting better for everyone.”
One of the freshmen to redshirt was Allison Sherman, another 2019 Lake Orion graduate. The Dragons’ record-holder in the 3,200-meter run at 11:03.02, Sherman was on the record-setting 4-by-800-meter relay team with Arnold in 2018.
“We’re definitely closer now than we were in high school,” Arnold said of the relationship between the pair. “I see my teammates every day and we spend so much time together traveling.
“It’s really cool to run with her, and it helped to know somebody going in.”
While the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) outdoor track season was canceled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Arnold was able to compete during the team’s indoor winter season.
“It went really well,” she said of the indoor season. “I did a lot better indoors this year than I did last year. I ran a 2:19 in the 800-meter this year, and my best overall is a 2:17, so, I think if we would’ve been able to have our outdoor season, it would’ve gone really well.”
Arnold chose to take her abilities to Detroit Mercy because of their strong nursing program, but she is not the first member of her family to compete for the Titans. Zach, the third of her four older brothers, ran for the school from 2014-18. Like his sister, Zach’s name appears numerous times on the Dragons’ all-time lists, too, including the 400-meter record at 50.13.