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Johnston named USATF Montana Junior Olympic Athlete of Year

Not only did Three Forks High School Senior Beau Johnston shine during the 2022 high school cross country season, but he also continued his success competing in the USATF Junior Olympic events, where he earned All-American status at the national finals last December in Texas.

Johnston was recently recognized for his efforts when he was named the 2022 Montana Athlete of the Year in the 17-18-year-old division for USATF Junior Olympic Cross Country.

"I was extremely thrilled and happy to see my hard work throughout the years pay off," Johnston said.

While competing in the USATF events as a member of the Three Forks Running Club, Johnston said the Junior Olympic races are no joke, and it is difficult to place in the top of the bunch.

"Every second counts, and many places are within seconds of each other. Some of these races are held at an official, dedicated XC course, which is very cool. Furthermore, it is fun being able to compete against runners from different states. It is also exciting to be able to travel to different parts of the country to compete in running," Johnston said.

Three Forks Running Club Coach Matt Robb said he is very excited for Johnston to receive the award because it shows all the hard work put into being a better runner.

The dedication by Johnston paid off at the USATF National Junior Olympics Cross Country Championship with All-American honors and a 24th-place finish. With the strong showing at Nationals, Johnston became the first All-American Robb has coached on the Three Forks Running Club.

"We had a few discussions before the race about the possibility of that happening, and the key factor was his belief in himself that he could do it. A race like that is hard to predict because you have runners from all over the country competing that we've never seen before, and every cross-country course is different. So, Beau receiving that award is the icing on the cake of not only this season but his entire career so far in Three Forks," Robb said.

Once he completes his high school career with the upcoming spring track season, Johnston will continue to compete with Rocky Mountain College in the fall of 2023.

"I will be running Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track," he said.

Robb said Johnston has been a significant part of why the running program is where it is.

"He bought in from the beginning and has been one of the most dedicated and motivated athletes I have coached. I have been very fortunate with this entire group because they want to get better, and it shows by doing all the right things to succeed. Beau is someone that I can count on every day to lead the workouts or runs, and I know it will be done correctly. He has grown so much as a runner since I got here in his 8th-grade year," said Robb. "His success is a direct testament to all the hard work he has put in over the last few years. I am excited to follow Beau's times while he is at Rocky Mountain College because I know the sky's the limit for him."