East Ascension's Justin Guillory continues to improve

Stephanie Conerly
East Ascension’s Justin Guillory recently set a personal record. He also led local runners at the state cross country meet.

In 1994, Forrest Gump made millions at the box office. "Life is like a box of chocolates” and “Run Forrest Run” rolled off of everyone’s tongue mocking the simplicity of the main character.

In the movie, Forrest begins running across the country to escape the absence of his true love. The author leaves the audience believing that running requires no special skills.  The ability is inborn. Not true!  It is quite the opposite.

Justin Guillory, a senior at East Ascension High School, recently set the school’s cross country record completing a three mile course in 15:55:38.  

He also finished fifth in Class 5A in the state cross country meet at Northwestern State University.

East Ascension’s boys led the local schools with a 12th-place finish.

Dutchtown followed at 14, and St. Amant came in at 34 in the boys competition. Dutchtown’s girls took 16th, while East Ascension placed 17th and St. Amant 19th in the state meet.

“Cross country is a lot different from any other sport,”?Guillory said. “In other sports, it is easy to see what you need to do better. It is clear when an offensive lineman misses his block or a baseball player doesn’t step on the bag. In Cross country, it is more mental. Knowing when to surge, whether or not you are on your pace, and gauging how much energy you have left to expend is complicated.”

Guillory has always enjoyed running. While in middle school, his P.E. coaches noticed Justin’s talent when running the Mustang Mile and encouraged him to build upon his strengths.

Upon entering high school, he joined the school’s cross country team. Then, his only ambition was improving his time, beating his own personal record (PR). Today, he is a bit more competitive.  

“I constantly pick up my pace to catch the next guy in front of me,”?he said.

Most of the high school cross country meets are held at Highland Park. Guillory set the school’s record while running the course at Walker Recreation Park. The following week the team competed at the St. Thomas Aquinas Chiropractic Invitational.  There, he exceeded his own record, finishing in 15:47:63.

“Being on the course is very relaxing,”?he said. “For the majority of the race, I only hear my own footsteps and breathing, and even then I zone that out and focus on my pace.”

Not only is Guillory a fine athlete, he is a leader. He ranks ninth in a class of 278 and has a 4.38 GPA. Having been on the team for four years, many underclassmen and peers have been inspired by his dedication and sportsmanship.

“Leaving EA will be bittersweet,” however, Guillory is looking forward to attending college in the fall. He plans to major in Mathematics at LSU.

Will he continue to run after graduating?  

“I will definitely consider continuing in cross country if approached with a scholarship.  Running is like a form of therapy for me. It eases my mind after a stressful day.”

Coaches, parents, and teammates appreciate the example set by Justin and wish him well in the future.