High school math teacher John DeWitt ready for U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials again

Posted at 9:52 AM, Feb 01, 2024

It's another day at Nathan Hale High School in West Allis.

"And then instead of x, what are you going to put instead of x?" John DeWitt says. "Minutes. Yeah, you wanna just write minutes in there."

And John DeWitt is teaching math, all while thinking of the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.

Reporter Lance Allan asks, "Teacher by day, elite level marathon runner, by night?"

"Yeah I mean, it's, you're just out here doing your job," John DeWitt says. "Right? Like, you come to school. You focus on that. You get done with school. And then you focus on the next thing."

"He has gone the distance," John Gruichich says. "He's qualified for the Olympic Trials multiple times. But just knowing that, that's not what drives him. He wants to see you succeed. And that's, I think that's the really cool part, is knowing that he holds the same love and care for the sport you do."

"And I love my job teaching," DeWitt says. "I love getting into educating the youth. I love getting to coach. I love to get to mentor kids and I think that's really important to me. And then obviously running is a passion of mine as well."

This is the third time DeWitt has qualified for the trials. No easy task.

"When you put all that time in? It's cool to see it pay off," DeWitt says. "And it's funny competing against people who a lot of them have real jobs and a lot of them don't. So it's cool to know that like, I'm just out here doing what I can to be both a teacher and a coach and also I like to pursue running alongside those people that are, some of them are pursuing it professionally so, yeah, it's cool to go toe to toe with them."

But the impact it has on his students will carry, for decades.

Lance Allan asks when you watch the Olympic Trials, do you say that's my coach! That's my teacher! That's my friend!

"Yeah, it's so unreal just to be able to like realize like wow, I know that guy!" Gruichich says. "I know he's going there one day."

"Just being at trials is so special," DeWitt says. "And just to be amongst the best athletes in the world. The best athletes in our country and yeah, to get to represent our country would be just, unbelievably special."

Sure, everyone assumes the Olympic dream is paved in gold. But more often that not? It's a guy like John who has a real day job. And has to think about his training and regiment the rest of the day, and night. Mostly on his own.