BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The sport of cross-country is all about endurance, rhythm and persistence.

Despite it being noted as more of an individualized sport, that’s not the case for Oak Mountain’s John Shoemaker — as he brings a team mentality to the Eagles’ program on and off the course.

“We all push each other to run fast and push harder,” Shoemaker said. “There is just a good bond between us all.”

At the Boy’s 7A State Sectional Championship, the high school junior took first place with a time of 15 minutes and 47 seconds, over 20 seconds over second place. That time sets Shoemaker up to be a top contender in this weekend’s state championship.

“John is coming in as one of the top seeds,” Oak Mountain Head Cross Country coach James Moore said. “He just has to run the race that he has been training for and preparing for. He just has to run with the guys who are just as fast as he is.”

For John, it’s not all about his speed — which has rapidly improved since his freshman year — it’s his maturity in being a team leader.

“John has matured as a leader and as one of our team captains based on his leadership role and his ability to train,” Moore said. “It is also about his ability to push his teammates to be faster based on example and through his encouragement.”

This upcoming weekend is not the end of the road for John and the Eagles’ program, there is still one more chapter to be run next year.

“It is what I put into this sport and it shows with faster times and to set goals for myself to push harder,” Shoemaker said.

“You know we do not know how fast John can push himself to go,” Moore said. “He has improved every single year and we expect him to do that in his senior year.”

For his humility, perseverance, and dedication to his coaches and teammates make John Shoemaker our CBS 42 Athlete of the Week.