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A Reflection of Josh Yamamoto’s Augustana Track Career

Josh Yamamoto (’18) rounds the final corner during the 4 x 400 meter relay at University of Wisconsin – Platteville. Photo by Kevin Donovan

Stepping onto the track for Nationals in Grinnell, Iowa, during his sophomore year, senior, Josh Yamamoto, was overwhelmed by the competition from other Division III schools.
He had yet to earn a major honor in college. It took him awhile for his nerves to settle, but his 4X400 relay team proved successful and took second place at nationals.
From the moment he stood on the podium on the national stage as a sophomore, his confidence in himself and his capabilities grew.
Yamamoto was a different person when he stepped onto the track in Birmingham, Alabama, his senior year. By this point, he was a three-time All-American, three-time CCIW champion, three-time All-CCIW, two-time Academic All-American, and Academic all-CCIW.
His 4X400 relay team placed fifth in the 2018 National Indoor Championships. They also received All-American honors, making this his fourth time receiving that award.
Heading into his last outdoor season, Yamamoto holds high expectations for himself. His head coach, Paul Olsen, complimented Yamamoto for his growth of confidence and fearlessness over four years.
“He’s gone from a guy who thinks he’ll place, to thinks he’ll win,” Olsen said.
With all this recognition for his accomplishments, Yamamoto said that this success is something he did not expect.
Yamamoto started running track in sixth grade and instantly fell in love with the sport. He continued throughout his pre-college years. He placed at State as a hurdler during his junior year at William Fremd High School in Chicago’s northwest suburbs.
However, a torn hamstring forced Yamamoto to sit out his senior season. This setback did not discourage him from wanting to continue his track career in college.
It was not difficult for him to adjust to college track. It was the balancing of sport and school that proved a challenge, as Yamamoto double majors in biology and secondary education.
“Track has provided a lot of structure for me. It’s helped me become a better time manager because it’s a huge commitment,” Yamamoto said. “Being able to balance that with a heavy course load is a crucial skill to have.”
 Yamamoto hopes these skills translate into becoming a biology teacher and a track coach.
Yamamoto’s teammates and coaches agree that this is the perfect career path for him. They described him as being dedicated and passionate – crucial traits of a leader.
Yamamoto captains the track team. His hurdles coach, Mike Pettis, said Yamamoto does not lead by his voice, but through his actions.
“Although he’s not telling guys what to do, they see what he’s doing and they want to emulate that because they can see that it works because he’s been successful, and not just as an athlete,” Pettis said.
Yamamoto encourages teammates, especially those suffering doubts. He said that he knows what it is like to be upset about a performance, but he has learned through Olsen’s teaching how to think more positively about a situation.
Olsen, who is in his last season of coaching at Augustana, stresses the importance of staying positive. Yamamoto follows this mindset.
“He’s going to find the positivity in the midst of negatives,” Olsen said. “He demonstrates calmness, a clear mind about what’s important and what it takes to achieve.”
Yamamoto recently practiced these skills in an actual classroom when he student taught at United Township High School in East Moline.
He taught in a biology classroom and helped coach the track team. This experience solidified that this is the path he wants to take post-graduation.
After his hamstring injury in high school, Yamamoto has had to be wary of how much he pushes himself in work outs. To be careful, he visits the trainer often and he has started doing yoga.
Senior Jeff Swanson, one of Yamamoto’s 4X400 teammates, is also a yoga and workout partner. Swanson said Yamamoto has been helping him coordinate a weight-lifting program.
“He’s very motivating,” Swanson said. “He’s growing into his teaching role and he helped me a lot with working out.”
As the end of his final track season approaches, Yamamoto reflects on his four years at Augustana. One of the track team’s mottos is that no matter what the outcome, the journey is better. The journey that Yamamoto has been on for the past four years is something special to him, but he is ready for the next step.
“In my spring term senior year, I have more experience and just ready for anything and ready to move on,” Yamamoto said. “It feels sentimental that it’s coming to an end, but I still have high expectations for the season.”

His journey is not over yet. The season continues through the end of the term and nationals is after graduation. Yamamoto hopes to finish out his final season with more national titles, solidifying a legacy that is already planted into Augustana history.
Photo Above: Josh Yamamoto (’18) rounds the final corner during the 4 x 400 meter relay at University of Wisconsin – Platteville. Photo by Kevin Donovan

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    John FoxApr 13, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Outstanding example for all Josh. I know your grandfather, Glenn well. He is just a phenomenal guy. You appear to be cut from the same cloth. You have a great future ahead. Good luck!

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A Reflection of Josh Yamamoto’s Augustana Track Career