Bishop Shanahan's Josh Hoey runs fast on faith and family

February was an eventful month for Bishop Shanahan senior Josh Hoey.

He won the high school boys’ mile at the prestigious Millrose Games on Feb. 3 in 4 minutes, 7.42 seconds, good for one of the fastest high school boys’ miles in the United States this indoor season.

Then, Hoey decided to forego the Pennsylvania indoor state championships last weekend because he had a bigger goal: the national record for the high school boys’ 800 meters.

Not only did Hoey beat the record, he crushed it by more than a second and a half.

Hoey ran the 800 in 1:47.67 at Boston University’s Last Chance Invitational to shatter the previous record of 1:49.21 that had been held by Robby Andrews since 2009. He finished second overall to college runner Christian Harrison, who won the race in 1:46.83.

The 18-year-old University of Oregon signee had his sights set on breaking that record since the beginning of the season when he ran a 1:50.8 in a relay at the Virginia Challenge.

Camera icon JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Josh Hoey works out on the Bishop Shanahan track.

Preparing for the big race, Hoey wasn’t feeling up to giving a national record breaking performance, not until he channeled his strong Christian background.

“I had a little bit of a headache, and my legs weren’t feeling as strong,” Hoey said. “I just remember before the race I prayed that I could feel God’s strength during it. I think that played a big part in lifting my confidence and just putting my faith in God.”

In addition to faith being a big factor in Hoey’s life, his relationship with his two brothers — Jonah and Jaxson — is instrumental in his running career, he said. Jonah Hoey is a sophomore at Bishop Shanahan, and Jaxson Hoey runs track at Oregon.

Jaxson Hoey attended Penn State until last summer. He and Josh decided to look at Oregon together, and they will be teammates next season. Jonah and Josh currently run together.

“With Jonah it’s been cool because I’ve been able to pass some of the knowledge that I’ve gotten from Jaxson onto Jonah,” Josh Hoey said. “He’s been an amazing training partner, and he’s supported me every day when we go for runs together.”

In October 2015, Josh and Jaxson finished eighth and ninth, respectively, to lead Downingtown West to a team victory in the Eastern States cross-country championship race at the Manhattan High School Invitational in New York.

Josh, then a sophomore, finished the 2.5-mile run at the Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park in 12:28. Jaxson, then a senior, finished one second behind him.
According to his current high school track coach, Peter Uhlman, Hoey’s potential to be a champion was apparent after he won the high school boys’ mile at the Penn Relays as a sophomore, a rare accomplishment at such a competitive meet.

Camera icon CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Josh Hoey (in white and green) in the High School Boys’ Mile Run Championship last April at Franklin Field at the Penn Relays.

After attending Malvern Prep and then Downingtown West, Hoey found himself at Bishop Shanahan just more than a year and a half ago.
“Coach Uhlman has done an excellent job at providing an environment for us to be successful,” Hoey said of he and Jonah. “We’ve had a lot of freedom and a lot of support from him. It’s really changed how we look at our workouts. We’ve been able to draw up a lot of success from that.”

Another support he has is his personal coach, Terrence Mahon, a notable mentor to some of the nation’s best distance and middle distance runners, many of whom are Olympians. Hoey trains six days a week and swims on Sundays with his mother, Leslie, who is the girls’ track coach at Bishop Shanahan.

“Josh tries to accomplish all of the workouts that we get from Terrance Mahon,” Josh’s dad, Fran Hoey, said. “He knows when he’s had enough. He doesn’t overwork himself. There is a lot of room to grow.”

According to Uhlman, Hoey makes as much of an impact off the track as he does on it.

He is “one of the most emotionally mature kids I’ve ever dealt with,” Uhlman said. “He has a tremendous sense of service and a desire to give back.”

Hoey engages in his faith and gives back through a bible breakfast club at school where he talks with other students about faith. He’ll take his love of service and his talents to Oregon where he is see to run in one of the most storied middle-distance track programs in the country and major in either business or computer science.

For now, Hoey’s sights are set on running in the U.S. junior championships in June. If he places in the top two, he can attend the World Junior Championships in Finland

”It’s all about development,” Fran Hoey said.