Josh Munsch Driven By Dreams of Success

Nov. 4, 2011

Days of competitions come with a routine for most athletes. Some have certain rituals, superstitions and thought processes to prepare them for the big day and try to combat the nerves. For cross country sophomore Josh Munsch, he just looks for success.

110411aaa_359_7120433.jpeg“It’s pretty much the same every race. I wake up thinking about what I have to do that day and the butterflies start then,” Munsch said. “I get super nervous. When we’re out there jogging the course beforehand, I try to envision myself succeeding. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t, it’s just something I always do.

Munsch’s vision for success started in high school when he began running his freshman year at Hays High School. With hard work and that winning mentality, Munsch became a four-time Most Valuable Player at Hays High School and a member of both the 5A regional and state track and field teams in 2010. The stand out athlete had individual accomplishments, but it was the desire for team achievements that attracted him to running at the next level.

“I really enjoy the team aspect,” Munsch said. “In high school, we had a team, but not everyone was serious about it. Then it’s hard to find those tight friends with the same interests. Here, all the guys are into it and are really hard-working. I’m with those guys all the time so they’re like my brothers in ways. That makes it really enjoyable.”

With team achievements in mind, Munsch reached out to Kansas Assistant Coach Michael Whittlesey, looking for an opportunity in Division I athletics.

“I contacted Coach Whitt because I knew they (the Jayhawks) were having a change in coaching personnel, so he called me one night and we talked about coming here,” Munsch said. “Then I came on a visit here and definitely knew it was the place for me.”

Like most freshmen, Munsch was initially anxious and eager to impress his new team and coaches. That nerves, though, soon blossomed into a wonderful bond.

“When you’re a freshman, you’re intimidated by everything, including the big Division I coach. Now it’s grown into a friendship in a way. We like to make fun of each other, but it’s serious when it needs to be serious,” Munsch said of his relationships with Whittlesey.

110411aaa_359_7120394.jpegWith Whittlesey’s help, Munsch finished his first season as a Jayhawk with two top-ten finishes, including a fourth-place 6K time of 19:06.50 at the Bob Timmons Challenge. His initial campaign experiences helped him grow as runner, a trend he has carried over into the 2011 cross country season.

“This year, I know what to expect in races,” The 6-2 second-year Jayhawk explained. “I still wouldn’t say that I have the cross country race down yet because I’m still learning a lot. Having last year under my belt has definitely helped. I know I’m stronger and I have a better understanding of what I’m supposed to do.”

In addition to finding his way on the cross country courses as an athlete, Munsch has also made adjustments in his academic life during his first years in Lawrence. The Hays product initially declared as a human biology major with the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. Like many in the student population, though, he realized that his original career choice didn’t give him the satisfaction he had hoped.

“I feel like a lot of people come to college assuming that they want to be a doctor or a lawyer. I was originally one of those people, too. I was all right at chemistry, but I just didn’t like it, so I decided to change.”

Now, Munsch is a happier—and busier—graphic design major in the school of Architecture and Design. He is also minoring in business with aspirations to work in branding.

“I want to possibly work with branding for a big company. I’m also into clothing, so I’d like to work in marketing for a clothing brand.”

Balancing schoolwork and being a Division I athlete simotaneously can be trying, though. Munsch has had to practically reconfigure his studying habits with his focus completely changed.

“It definitely can be (tough), especially this year with graphic design,” Munsch said. “It’s a whole different type of ‘hard.’ Before, it was all about textbooks, but now it’s about me being creative. It takes a lot of time. Sometimes, the ideas come to you right away, but sometimes it takes forever to get something out on paper or the computer. They (athletics and academics) are two really big time commitments.”

So far, Munsch seems to be balancing the two just fine. Along with his athletic accomplishments, Munsch was named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll for Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 and was on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll for Spring 2011.

110411aaa_359_4485221.jpegWhen he is not focused on schoolwork, Munsch is looking ahead to NCAA Midwest Regionals with dreams of success still driving him. Munsch is eager to have a good showing Nov. 12 in DeKalb, Ill., when he runs his first 10K as a college athlete.

“I’m extremely nervous. It’s definitely time to buckle down. We didn’t have the best Big 12 (Championships) race, but this is the race that really matters since it decides whether we go to Nationals or not. It will be my first 10K, so hopefully it goes well. I’ve never gone that far in a race before.”

Munsch is focused and hopeful of making it Nationals during his collegiate career and, just as he does for each individual race, Munsch is envisioning himself succeeding.

“With cross country, I want to make it to Nationals,” he said. “That’s the ultimate goal. It would be awesome to be on a team that does that. For my career, I just want to continue to improve and I want to make it to Nationals in track as well.”