High Point running phenom to speak at camp


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  • PHOTO BY LAURIE GORDONLast year's X-Treme Youth Running Camp




  • Joe Dragon (second from right) with High Point teammates at Morris Hills Relays. Dragon, now a sophomore at Syracuse, will return to speak at the camp where he fell in love with the sport of running.




  • PHOTO BY LAURIE GORDONLast year's X-Treme Youth Running Camp. A "dab" at the top of Fredon Hill after the kids ran to the top



WANTAGE — The X-Treme 5K race is held on the final day of X-Treme Youth Running Camp each August. The challenge to the campers is to complete the 3.1-mile distance as fast as they can despite the fact that they've been training hard at the camp all week.

For several years, there was one runner to beat.

In fact, the challenge was so difficult that his rivals said, “Who's gonna slay the dragon?” Let's capitalize Dragon and maybe you'll recognize his name and his reputation. Joe Dragon of Wantage, was the one to beat not just at X-Treme but all over the state during his high school career. Now entering his sophomore year at Syracuse University, Dragon is returning to the camp that instilled the love of the sport in him this time as a motivational speaker.

“I first started going to X-Treme Running Camp going into my eight grade cross country season,” he said. “I've attended five times in total through high school.” Dragon said, “I first noticed a change in my interest for the sport and a longing to become better when I first attended the camp. It was the hardest week of any sport activity that I had ever done up until that point in eighth grade and I loved it.”

Dragon said he loves the difficulty degree the camp offers to young runners.

"A lot of people ask me when was the point in time when I first started getting serious in the sport and I always say it was X-Treme Running Camp," he said. "Not only did I enjoy the sport a lot more, I also met some of the most influential people. There I met both a coach and mentor of mine and many friends that share in the love of running. Some of my best friends I have met, I met at X-Treme. This camp has done so much for me and I am pleased to give back and share what I have learned from other coaches and runners at this year's camp as a guest speaker to talk to the campers about what it is like to run in high school and now in college.”

While at High Point High School, Dragon competed at the prestigous Foot Locker Cross Country Championships finishing 30th at the National Championship in 2015. He won the Group Two State Cross Country Championship and led High Point High School to the State Championship Meet in back-to-back seasons. As a freshman at Syracuse, in indoor track, Dragon placed 24th in the 5000-meter event at the ACC Championships, crossing the finish line at 15:14.69. He finished the 3000-meter event at the Boston University Valentine Invitational in 8:13.28, a 14th place finish. Dragon took fifth place in the 5000m at the John Thomas Terrier Invitational with a time of 14:24.22 and placed first in the Mile at the Upstate Challenge with a time of 4:14.57.

In outdoor track, he completed the 5000-meter event in 14:38.50 at the Larry Ellis Invitational and ran to a fifth place finish in the 5000m event at the Sam Howell Invitational with a time of 14:48.36.

X-Treme Youth Running Camp will be held this year from Monday, Aug. 7, through Friday, Aug. 11, at Lodestar Park in Newton. Cost is just $120 per camper and includes training for runners of all levels, group sessions, form drills, motivation, goal setting, and some great speakers including Olympians and of course Sussex County's own running phenoms Dragon and Justin Scheid.

X-Treme Running Camp is in its 17th year and is enjoying a longevity that most camps and running programs aren't able to sustain.

“This camp is just truly unique in every way and I believe there isn't anything really like it out there,” Dragon said.

X-Treme is open to kids in grades 6-12. Runners of all ability are welcome and are grouped accordingly. Register on line at https://raceroster.com/events/2017/12096/xtreme-running-camp-2017.

E-mail Xtremeruncamp@aol.com or call 973-362-8006 for further information, to reserve a spot or to be mailed a paper application.



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