Troy's Noah Johnson is this week's Prep Athlete of the Week

Troy's Noah Johnson opened his junior cross country season with a flourish, claiming his first career varsity win with a 5K time of 20 minutes, 25 seconds, at the Moose Creek Invitational on Sept. 1 in Reservoir, Idaho.

The showing, which put Johnson nine seconds ahead of runner-up and league rival Emmett Long of Clearwater Valley-Kamiah, helped him gain recognition as the Tribune’s Prep Athlete of the Week.

“Noah is an incredible young man who is always determined to do better,” Troy coach Tera Stoner said. “He has dreamed for years to be at the top, and we are so excited for him and his accomplishments.”

Johnson, who also plays basketball for the Trojans, ran his personal best 5K time to date of 19:28 at the 2019 Class 1A district championship. He started each of his previous two high school seasons running times of more than 22 minutes, and is well ahead of that mark to start this season.

“Noah is not only a great runner, he is a fantastic teammate,” Stoner said. “He is always cheering, supporting and high-fiving his friends as they run by during workouts. He has a special place in his heart for the youngest kids on our team who seem to struggle in the world of running. He is a wonderful young man inside and out, and a privilege to coach.”

Johnson cites former teammate and 2019 graduate David Phillis — who now runs for Lewis-Clark State — as a personal inspiration, and keeps in mind the quote Phillis used to repeat to him: "The fastest thing that will kill a goal is an excuse." A key goal in Johnson's mind this season is to break under 19 minutes for the first time.

Johnson and his team return to action Saturday at the Asotin Invitational.