ORANGE PARK - Orange Park High graduate Joshua Bigden, Class of 2014, stormed the running paths of Florida with his up front style of competing in an era where he was one of the top guys in north …
ORANGE PARK - Orange Park High graduate Joshua Bigden, Class of 2014, stormed the running paths of Florida with his up front style of competing in an era where he was one of the top guys in north Florida.
“Truth be told, I never liked running,” said Bigden, via a computer phone call from his new home in Japan. “I went out for tennis, they said I was good enough, but not enough to play alot. So, I went out for track. I did no running between cross country to track my senior year.”
Bigden finished his final two cross country seasons with bests around the 16 minute, 40 second marks that got him to regions. Unfortunately, Bigden’s region was manned by Tallahassee Leon’s Sukhi Khosla who would win the 2013 Class 3A title and the Gatorade runner of the year honor with bests near the 15 minute mark. Khosla, with five state titles, is now running for Oklahoma State University.
“To this day, I still think about the Bishop Kenny Katie Caples Cross Country race in my senior year where me and the other guy literally cross the finish line together in first place,” said Bigden. “At first, the officials ruled his chest was ahead of mine, though my time was milliseconds ahead of him. In the end, rules stated the winner determined by chip time from the transponder on my foot which had me faster. Coach Don Hall called and asked for the plaque, but we never got a response. Still a plaque I never got.”
Bigden now teaches English in the Japanese town of Sendai, a village northeast of Tokyo on Honshu Island. Bigden teaches in a public elementary school.
“We just teach the alphabet in the early stages and then get to spelling and reading by about fifth grade,” said Bigden. “The Ministry of Education here has been increasing the English in the region.”
Bigden, who did some screenwriting in 2014 while at FSU, fundraised in the United States to move to Japan in order “to teach English, the Gospel, and build relationships with Japanese college students.”
“I went two previous trips to Japan; one a ministry trip when I was done at Orange Park High and the second a vacation trip because I enjoyed the first one,” said Bigden. “The third one was a result of being impressed with the culture. I was intrigued by the lack of Christianity here.”
Bigden excelled on the track also and soccer while at Orange Park with the 1600 and 3200 his two main events. Bigden got down to 4:31.85 for eighth in the region 1-3A 1600 with Khosla going 4:06.45.
For Japan, where Bigden is with girlfriend Brandy Harris and a few teacher cohorts, the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics has created a push to make English a stronger language in the region.