TOWNSEND -- North Middlesex Track and Field captain Bobby Johnston is the type of runner who can create distance from the pack while keeping his teammates under his wing. Johnston has been one of the Patriots top finishers in the 600 and 1,000 meter events. During the off-season, Johnston can be found pounding the pavement in Townsend in preparation for his events.
A true multisport athlete, Johnston competes in cross-country during the fall, indoor track and field in the winter and spring track and field. His strongest event is the javelin throw, but on the indoor stage, Johnston excels in the 600-meter event.
Johnston recorded a personal best in the 600-meter event at a recent meet against Wachusett with a time of 1:37, and he has been one of the Patriots' top runners in that event all season. Johnston recently joined the 600 meters this season and has adjusted nicely. In addition to the 600 meter, Johnston has competed at different legs of the 4 x 400 meter relay. When the pressure mounts, Johnston shifts into overdrive and romps his way to the finish line, keeping the competition at bay.
"In a meet at Fitchburg against Leominster, Bobby just turned it on," said North Middlesex track and field head coach Suzanne Williams. "I always tell him to keep pressing, and he certainly is able to fight through the pain and really put the pedal down."
Williams believes that Johnston is an easy athlete to coach and is always willing to learn new things. Johnston is a runner who is a strong leader in the classroom, with a 3.5 grade point average. Johnston is not sure where he will attend college, but he already has a major targeted: chemical engineering.
Johnston has always been a strong student in math and has recently completed an advanced placement course in chemistry. Bobby has applied to the chemical engineering program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Johnston applied to early action at MIT and expects to hear their decision sometime in March.
Past graduates of North Middlesex High School have gone on to race in college and their stories have really rubbed off on Johnston's post-graduation ambitions. Mike Skelly, who currently competes for Westfield State University, has offered tutelage to Johnston.
"I am not sure where I am going to college yet, but wherever I do go, I would love to be on the track team," said Johnston. "I have heard from the seniors who have graduated our program before that it is a great thing to be a part of, and I am really looking forward to doing that."
Leadership is a quality that a captain should possess. As with any job title, there are all different kinds of leaders. There are the hyper ones, the quiet ones and the in-betweens. Johnston is the latter -- he can get fired up when he has to, according to Williams.
"He is quiet, but he definitely brings a strong leadership to the team," said Williams. "The younger kids definitely look up to him for his guidance. He is intense when he needs to be intense, but he is kind of a lead-by-example captain."
Bobby's family has had a positive impact on his motivation for attending college and laying a foundation for bettering his life. Over the last couple of years, Johnston has really grown as a young man. Johnston wants to make the most of his life now and never look back wishing.
"My older family members tend to talk about how they wish they would have done things differently if they were younger," said Johnston. "I don't want to ever have to say that about myself. I just want to try and do it right the only time I have to do it."