In middle school, John F. Kennedy senior Joseph Aguon joined track because it was something to do as a sixth grader. In eighth grade, he hit a groove and found a love for athletics, the sport opening the door to life-changing experiences, meaningful friendships and a passion for that runner’s high.
Sports kept him on the straight and narrow, Aguon said, forcing him to keep his grades up to par and pushing him to think beyond the present and plan for the future. A member of a winning tradition in cross-country and track and field with the Islanders, Aguon, as a national athlete, also holds several medals locally and regionally in the longer sprints.
According to his national team and high school coach Jay Antonio, Aguon started training for track after his eighth grade year. Soon, he made the leap to the national team, carving a niche for himself among an experienced squad, representing the island in several international events including the U20 World Championships in Finland.
The opportunity to see world-class athletes perform at levels completely unheard of on the local scene was one Aguon said he will treasure.
Getting a first-row seat to see some of the best talents in the world was inspiring, Aguon said, recounting an underdog gold-medal run from an Indonesian sprinter to win the 100-meter finals.
“Finland is very different from Guam,” Aguon said, describing the country’s sun, environment and colder temperatures.
Aguon’s talent, commitment and work ethic earned him a spot on the national team and top slots on the JFK cross-country and track teams, allowing him to travel throughout Asia and the Pacific rocking the deep blue for Guam and the bright green for the Islanders.
“Joseph had a huge impact on my team for the past four years,” said Antonio, who has racked up several impressive runs in cross-country and track and field for the team he has coached. “He’s been my go-to person for the past four years, so I’m definitely going to miss his leadership.”
Antonio commended Aguon’s all-or-nothing mentality and his ability to keep pushing beyond his body’s endurance.
“Joseph is one of those athletes that will do any workout as hard as he can ... and then throw up,” Antonio said of his commitment to excellence. “That's his trademark, but that’s how he made the national team so early on in his career.”
Aguon competed for JFK for three years. An injury kept him off the track his junior year and, Antonio said, that’s what made this season’s cancellation due to the pandemic so hard for the driven athlete.
“He’s been working hard to redeem himself,” Antonio said. “I just hope he continues to have the desire to compete and, if not, he knows I’ll always be there for support.”
With high school behind him, Aguon said he will be attending Guam Community College and working to become a firefighter. A life of service and safety is what Aguon said he wants.
A career as a firefighter encompasses his passion for fitness and the drive to help keep others safe, he said. And, if things work out, one day, after he’s graduated from college and settled in careerwise, he hopes to coach his own team, paving the way for kids like him to have the life-changing experiences he did. Winning a few championships would be pretty nice, too, Aguon said, alluding to his winning career in high school athletics.
Humble and hardworking, Aguon said track changed his life, offering life lessons that shaped him into the person he is today.
Besides the commitment and discipline it takes to compete at high levels, Aguon learned resilience and mental strength, feeling as if he can conquer any obstacle after overcoming a year of injury. Along the way, he said, learned to enjoy training with his teammates, making lifelong friendships and embracing “the little things” that make being part of a team fun.
For now, Aguon said he will continue to take life and handle the obstacles that come with it.
He thanked his parents for always supporting him his entire high school and athletic career.
“My parents always wanted the best for me,” he said. “Whenever I had an upcoming trip, they would encourage me to go and help fundraise so I can go. They pushed me more and I ended up joining the national team and competing for Team Guam as a freshman.”
He also thanked his coaches and teammates for continually pushing him to never settle for less than his best.
“I would (like to) thank my coaches, Genie Gerardo, Jeofry Limtiaco and Paul Dimalanta,” he said. “I would especially like to thank coach Jay Antonio; he is the one to push me to reach the furthest and been a great mentor for four years.”
Q: Quote you live by?
A: “Do what you can, with what you have, and where you are” because you won’t have the same luxuries as everyone else, but to make the best of what you have is something everyone can do.
Q: What advice would you give to incoming freshmen?
A: Don't be afraid, and join sports while you're still a freshman.
Q: A passion you plan to pick up after high school?
A: A passion I want to learn more about is automotive, as my father is a teacher. I would some day want to build my own car and learn what my father spent his time studying so I can have that knowledge.
Q: If you could run with anyone in the world, who would you like to start with?
A: I would run with Wayde Van Niekerk becuase he is the most versatile sprinter ever.
Q: How do you prep for a race?
A: I don’t really listen to music when I run, so I can focus more. To prep for a race is the standard – warmup laps, stationary stretches, then dynamic stretches. Some rituals would be to always pray for a good race and I have to wear a certain bracelet I have worn for five years.