He keeps dropping time and the University of St. Thomas has noticed.

Thursday morning, Blue Jay distance runner Gavin Haut signed his National Letter of Intent with the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. Haut will compete in cross country and track & field.

Haut first went out for track and field as a freshman, where he surprised JHS coach Ken Gardner with the announcement that he wanted to participate in distance races.

"He came out for track his freshman year," Gardner said. "When I saw him I thought he was going to be a thrower (but) he told me that he wanted to be a distance runner. I thought it would last about two days but he's pretty tough and he stuck with it. He's really turned it into a good career. It was fun to see."

Haut placed sixth for the Jays in both the 1600 meters and the 3200 at the 2019 Class A state track meet. The coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of last spring's state meet.

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"I always wanted to join the military because of my older cousin and he talked about how much running you had to do," Haut said. "I figured I'd start doing distance events in track and liked it a lot more than I thought. (I) eventually joined cross country."

Haut first went out for cross country his sophomore season and is now a two-time all-conference and all-state runner.

"Gavin's improvement over those first three years has been really impressive," Gardner said. "Especially those first two years we kept thinking that he was going to plateau sometime but his times kept getting faster and faster.

"As times get faster it gets harder and harder to improve on your time but he just kept dropping time."

At the end of Haut's junior cross country season, he ran at the Nike Heartland Regional where he set a 5K personal best of 15 minutes, 33 seconds. Haut was named to the all-region team after the last race of his junior campaign.

As a senior, Haut turned in multiple top-five finishes and placed sixth at the 2020 Class A state cross country meet crossing the line at 16:06. Haut said his final cross country season didn't go exactly as he had planned but added he plans to make up for it in the spring by placing well at state and hopefully breaking some Blue Jay records.

"I think he just has the mentality for it," Gardner said of Haut's decision to run collegiately. "He's a really tough kid. He's willing to put in the sweat that it takes to become a successful distance runner. If you are a runner and you are in your comfort zone the whole time, you probably aren't going to do that well.

"You've got to be willing to be uncomfortable and he's willing to do that. He's willing to push himself and that's really helped him be successful. If he continues to work hard in the offseason and build up that mileage I think he is going to be really successful there."