Spring Lake Park football star finds passion in hurdles

Everybody is naturally talented in something. For most of us it takes a while to figure out what that is.

Spring Lake Park High School track star CJ Janu excels at hurdles, something he discovered only 13 months ago. Photo courtesy of Andy Rogers
Spring Lake Park High School track star CJ Janu excels at hurdles, something he discovered only 13 months ago. Photo courtesy of Andy Rogers

For CJ Janu it’s hurdling — something he discovered only 13 months ago.

His coach Greg Kugler suggested he try hurdles because of his size at 6 feet 3.5 inches tall and his athletic ability as a quarterback and defensive back for the football team.

“Coach Kugler is hands down the primary reason why I am seeing the results I want to this year,” Janu said. “I was pretty average last year running the open 200 (meter dash) and 400 so I was willing to try anything to help the team as well as myself. As the season progressed, I realized hurdling was a perfect fit for me.”

Last year Janu narrowly missed qualifying for state in the 110 and the 300 hurdles at the Section 5, Class AA meet.

Inspired by his natural talent, he decided to mix that with hard work over the next 10 months.

“I just had a different mentality and drive to really better myself,” Janu said. “I knew that if I worked hard, I would see results I’ve been looking for.”

In the weight room he focused on basic lifts like squats, and clean and jerk, and sprinted to the treadmill to increase his speed.

“It primarily focuses on form but it also gets you in pretty good shape as well,” Janu said. “A major part of the success I’m seeing this year is based off what I did this offseason in the weight room.”

After a few races, Janu is ranked in the top three in the state in both the 110 and 300 hurdles. He’s also a leg of the 4×200-meter relay currently ranked in the top five in the state as well.

He’s run the 110 hurdles in 14.7 seconds and 39.59 in the 300 hurdles. He would like to get it down to around 14.5 in the 110 and get through quicker then 39 seconds in the 300.

He is also one of the captains of the football team next fall and hopes to be playing quarterback and free safety for the Panthers.

He picked up track a few years ago to help stay in shape for football, but found another athletic obsession in the process.

“In the past year, I would say that track is now my primary and favorite sport,” Janu said. “My long-term goal would be to obtain a scholarship in either track or football. I will have to see financially what my best option is and go from there.”

He is a 3.4 grade-point average student and is being recruited for both sports.

Janu hopes to help the Panthers remain competitive along with athletes such as Bobby Brown, who finished 10th in the discus at the Hamline Elite Meet last week.

Issac Kruse (first in the 800-meter run), Michael Rosenberg, (first in the 1600), Derek Malbrue (second in the shot put), Daulton Olinger (third in the shot put), David Shadduck (third in the triple jump) and Bryant Lymburn (second in the pole vault) helped the team finish second at the St. Louis Park Invitational April 23 along with Janu and Brown’s wins in the discus and hurdles, respectively.

Andy Rogers is at [email protected]