Though fighting leukemia, athlete’s name will be entered in track meet

Here’s more proof that when it comes to sportsmanship, the track and field kids are the coolest ones.

Minnesota’s Section 8AA high school track and field meet will be held today in Moorhead. Each school is allowed three entries in an event. Alexandria Area High School’s Josh Molden will be announced as a competitor in the long jump.

His name will be the first announced. He’ll have 60 seconds to take his mark and people will wait for him.

He won’t show up.

He’s in the hospital in Minneapolis where doctors are trying to figure out what’s causing the spike in a fever. Molden is fighting leukemia and has been unable to compete. He had a bone marrow transplant in March.

So his coach, Mike Empting, asked the other coaches and athletic directors if it would be OK for him to enter Molden’s name in the long jump event. They said sure.

“There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that he would be right back in the state meet in probably the long jump and triple jump this year,” Empting tells the Alexandria Echo Press. “This is his time, this is where he shined, so I’d been thinking about what can I do for him? This just seemed like the right thing.”

Even the kids in the boys and girls track program who didn’t know Molden before this past year know him now because of an act of selflessness in February.

Molden was granted a wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation where he could have gotten almost anything for himself. Instead, he chose to bring in inspirational speaker Eric Thomas to deliver a message to the whole school.

His teammates recently posted a video on YouTube entitled Alexandria Track & Field presents: Josh Molden = Our “Why.” Every coach and athlete walks down the hallway to tap the photo of Molden jumping that hangs on the wall at the high school. It ends with the team gathered together shouting, “It’s all for you, Josh!”

Empting talked to the team after everything was finalized to enter Molden into the triple jump at sections. He tried to get through a planned speech before his emotions cut part of the message short.

“It’s been a long battle for him,” Empting said. “The kids are pretty connected. They know. No one batted an eye or balked at entering Josh (at sections).”

“It shows how track and field can bring kids together and teach the life lessons that can’t be taught in the classroom,” Josh told the paper.