Josh Maier is chasing titles while other runners are chasing him


Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz

Sophomore cross-country runner Josh Maier, of Alsip, Illinois, poses for a portrait Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, in the Daily Egyptian photography studio. (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

By Dillon Gilliland

Whether it’s cross country or on the track, there is only one place you will find redshirt junior Josh Maier, and that is near the front leading the competition.

Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Maier has four major hobbies: running, playing baseball, playing video games and watching sports.

Maier, a fan of all non-Cubs Chicago sports teams, did not have it easy when it came to succeeding in the athletic department at Alan B. Shepard High School, a 3A school in Palos Heights, Illinois.


Maier utilized his passion for baseball to find quick success in the sport as his freshman year he was the starting third basemen for his team.

Although it’s his master craft now, Maier had no knowledge of what cross country was, until being invited to a tryout by cross country coach Troy Walker during his biology class.

Maier found his other calling going into his sophomore year of high school where he picked up track. The future track star found his success in long distance running, becoming a two-time South Suburban Red Conference individual champion, an experience he said really helped his development on the course.

Although Maier showed major promise in all three of his sports, the runner took cross country and track more serious and chose to dedicate his future to the two sports.

Maier credits his passion for the sport to Walker.

“He’s the reason I’m doing track and cross country now,” Maier said. “I owe it all to him.”

When it came to choosing a college, the future computer science major visited SIU along with Grand Valley State, Purdue and Marquette.


“I chose SIU after my visit with the team,” Maier said. “I had a good time, made some friends and I really liked the campus.”

He claims that the transition into collegiate running is not an easy task as the workouts are more strenuous and at a different pace.

Maier hit the ground running his freshman year in track setting several personal records in both indoor and outdoor running while placing fourth at the Bill Cornell Spring Classic in the 5000-meter, setting another personal record.

During his first year of cross country, the computer science major notched two top ten performances, using his first year as a springboard to future success.

The next season, Maier led the Salukis in all six meets while opening the season with back-to-back wins and being named All-MVC honorable mention.

Later that year, his junior year of track, Maier continued to succeed as he went on to earn the MVC Elite 18 award for track and field, went All-MVC in the 10,000-meter run and was MVC champion in the 5,000-meter run, SIU’s first title in the event since 2011.

Although majoring in computer science, Maier does not have a clear-cut goal on what he will do with his major as he will graduate in May of 2018, however, he does plan to attend graduate school to utilize his fourth year of cross country.

“As far as running post-collegiately goes, I would definitely like to run a Chicago Marathon,” Maier said.

Even though his time in an SIU uniform is beginning to run out, his legacy will still be left on the Saluki squad.

“Josh is a dream athlete to coach,” cross country coach Kevin Cataldo said. “He is one of the hardest working, dedicated and driven athletes. I couldn’t ask for a better athlete.”

Sports reporter Dillon Gilliland can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @DillonGilliland.

To stay up to date with all your SIU news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.