Race less, win more.
That's what the senior All-American from Central Kitsap of Silverdale has planned, and so far it seems like a solid strategy.
Moskowitz, who committed to Oklahoma State last month, was the Class 4A state runner-up last year.
"I talked to him after state (last year)," said Central Kitsap coach Mark Ward, who added cross country to his track and field duties this year. "In my whole life, I’d never seen him run down from behind in any race. To hear that he was run down in state cross country..."
Something had to change.
It started in the spring. Ward dialed down the amount of times Moskowitz raced in the 3,200 meters. The result? Moskowitz won the state title in 8 minutes, 59.53 seconds, becoming the first athlete in several years to break nine minutes at the state meet. It also ranked as one of the top times in the nation and it was the first 3,200 title a boy from Kitsap county has ever won.
He also added the 1,600 title two days later, in 4:11.75. He was the first male runner from the county to win the 1,600 in 57 years. Both times are county records. So maybe there's something to racing less.
"A good, hard race, it can take you a week to come back from that," Ward said. A tough practice takes a day or two to recover from, the coach said.
Moskowitz raced for just the fifth time this season last week when he won the Narrows League with a meet- and course-record time of 15:05 at Fort Steilacoom State Park in Lakewood. Last year, the league meet was his 10th race of the season.
"I wanted to be as fresh as I can because I don’t want to lose another state championship," Moskowitz said.
He has his mind set on a sub-15 minute time at the West Central District meet on Saturday at American Lake Golf Course in Lakewood. The race is part of the Westside Classic, which is the largest collection of district meets in the state.
Going under 15 would be a rare feat. Since the state cross country meet went to a 5-kilomter format (3.1 miles) in 1997, no runner has gone under 15. The state meet is held at the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. Different courses yield different times, but if Moskowitz can go under 15 minutes at districts, you know he’ll try to repeat it at state.
After state comes the postseason meets. Last year, Moskowitz finished 14th in the national meet, the Foot Locker Cross Country National Finals. He said he wants to finish higher this year.
So how did Moskowitz become so good? His appetite for running is becoming legendary.
Last spring, after CK had its track and field banquet, he just had to go for a run. It was 11:20 p.m. A few years ago, he was caught returning from a run at 4 a.m.
"He's got such a drive," his mother, Luana Hagele, said.
Ask Moskowitz when he started running, and he'll tell you about runs at Silver Ridge Elementary School, where they ran a mile four times a year. When he got to CK Junior High, a PE teacher suggested he go out for track. It was as if a beam of light shown upon him. He was immediately interested.
"I didn't even know track was a sport," Moskowitz said.
He had played baseball and basketball before that, mostly finding his way to the bench.
"It tears a kid apart," Hagele said, remembering her son's early sporting endeavors.
And he's done nothing but improve by great leaps each year. His freshman season, he made the state cross country meet, and then finished ninth as a sophomore. In the spring, he showed he was the state's top distance runner. And along the way, he drug his twin sister Shannon into the sport. She's changed from a junior-high thrower to a sprinter to a state medalist in the 800 and top-flight cross country runner.
"He's definitely the one that got me into it my freshman year," Shannon said. "He compliments me on how hard I push. I think that's what he saw in me."
They're hoping to both win state cross country titles in November in Pasco. Shannon finished fourth last year, but she has battled a myriad of health problems this fall. She was considering shutting it down until the spring track season. She kept running and finished third at the league meet.
"She hasn’t given up on winning state, and I hope she never does, because anything can happen at district and state," Ward said.