Joe Scgounztos Sets Half-Marathon Record Before High School Running Career Ends


Jack O'Connor

Joe Scgounztos (12) recieves the baton from Hayden Parker (10) to run his leg of the 4×1600 meter relay at the Griffin Relays Invatational. Despite track season being cut short this year, Joe was able to have his biggest accomplishment this past January at the Irvine Half Marathon.

Max Katz, Staff Writer

For Joe Scgounztos, being a high school distance runner has been nothing short of an adventure. Throughout his four years on the Cross Country and Track teams, Joe has had many ups and downs as he has come to love the sport. This January, Joe pulled off what is likely to go down as his signature accomplishment as a high school athlete: breaking the school half-marathon record.

The record was set in 2018 by Jullian Lasting with a time of 1:19:30. Besting him by only 14 seconds, Joe raced past this mark by completing the half marathon in 1:19:16 on January 11th at the Irvine Half Marathon. A half-marathon is 13.1 miles, which means that Joe ran an amazing 6:03 average pace per mile.

“During the race, I didn’t even know that I was on pace to break the record until the very end when I heard everyone cheering. Once I got 10-20 yards before the line I saw the time and I was completely shocked. It was a great joy” said Scgounztos.

Running has taught me about what’s more important. I used to think that running a fast time would make me happy, but it is really more important to be appreciative of every moment and enjoy it”

— Joe Scgounztos

Bob Price, the Cross Country coach, was equally surprised after Joe’s fantastic performance.

“I thought Jullian Lasting’s record would remain for a long time, and I was quite surprised Joe got it. Joe always had been interested in the half marathon, but he had not taped his full potential. This year he certainly did,” said Price.

The workouts that helped Joe reach his full potential included mile repeats each Saturday. Joe started at 5-mile repeats and worked up to 8 in the weeks leading up to the race. Joe ran well under 6 minutes for each mile repeat rep he completed. In addition, Joe added long training runs that were as long as 14 miles.

While all the hard work certainly gives the accomplishment value, Joe has learned over his years as a distance runner that time is not always the most important thing.

“Running has taught me about what’s more important. I used to think that running a fast time would make me happy, but it is really more important to be appreciative of every moment and enjoy it,” said Scgounztos.

Running is a difficult sport to find happiness in at times. Runners constantly deal with the stress of comparing times to others and often place a lot of their self worth in a number on a clock. By taking a step back from this chaos, Joe was able to experience the joy of the sport itself in its purest form.

This level of maturity and dedication for running Joe demonstrates has impacted the rest of the cross country team. Being a captain for the past two years, many younger runners have picked up on Joe’s message.

“I knew he had been training hard, so I was excited to watch him break the record. His work ethic is inspiring, but the amount of happiness Joe has found in running has probably had a greater impact on me since I joined the team,” said sophomore Hayden Parker.

As his high school running career winds to a close, Joe looks back on his time here contently and knows that he improved himself not only as a runner but as a person overall through his experiences.

“The Bible and its teachings of love, that is what fills me with purpose,” said Scgounztos when he was asked about his biggest inspirations.

Is a sub-three-hour marathon in Joe’s future? Quite possibly, but for now, Joe is perfectly fine with continuing to live his life finding happiness in the people around him and not letting himself get too hung up on obtaining success that only corelates to how fast he can run.