When asked, “What if orange juice didn’t exist?” Cloquet’s Isaac Boedigheimer admitted his life would be a little bit sad.
That’s because the 15-year-old Lumberjack freshman cross country and track and field standout is happy to say he hasn’t had a sip of soda or piece of candy in several years.
Yearning for my favorites like Coke or Reese’s, I usually give in when I walk by the nearest pop machine or candy aisle. But I commend Boedigheimer. He’s as strong passing on the junk food as the 5-foot-3, 107-pounder is at running long distances.
Boedigheimer, a two-year member of the varsity cross country and track and field teams in Cloquet, said he began saying “no” to sugar at the tail end of his seventh-grade year, in hopes of shaping up to improve his already successful times.
“I went away from the junk food and toward the healthy food,” Boedigheimer said Monday night following practice.
Practicing his good habits was hard at the start, he said, especially with sugar surrounding us everywhere we go.
“At the beginning, it was tempting,” Boedigheimer said of going past plenty of pop machines, several now at the high school. “I’ve just trained myself not to look in that direction.”
Cloquet track and field Coach Tim Prosen said he used to eliminate sugar when cutting weight while wrestling, but confessed he would even slip at times, unlike Boedigheimer.
“Isaac is incredibly disciplined — his maturity level is well beyond his years,” said Prosen, noting athletes are now making better nutrition decisions. “They’re ahead of me; I’m not going to lie. I’m aiming for chocolate after a long run.”
John Waltjer, running classmate and good friend since third grade, also doesn’t drink pop or eat candy. He stopped shortly after Boedigheimer did.
Perhaps the sugar-free freshmen are on to something.
After all, Boedigheimer took second overall (and second in the men’s race) with a time of 17:02 while Waltjer was 10th (18:03) at Saturday’s Fitger’s 5K run. Classmate Anja Maijala (another who approaches food with an eye toward health) took second in the women’s race out of 1,049 females, with a time of 19:32.
On Easter Sunday, a day filled with candy, Waltjer was honest with what he received from his grandmother that day.
“Some peanuts, but that’s about it,” he said with a laugh.
Boedigheimer, meanwhile, didn’t receive an Easter basket from his mother, Ruth. His senior sister, Leah, didn’t either.
“I had a few jelly beans,” Leah said, noting although her family gives her younger brother a tough time, they are impressed by his sugar-free feat. “He’s always looking at nutrition labels and is so strict on his eating. I couldn’t do it.”
“It’s as serious as his school work,” added Ruth about her 4.0 GPA son. “We tease him all the time, but we’re all so very proud. I can’t keep enough orange juice or fruit in the house.”