POLSON — Jonah Ducharme will be graduating Polson High School this weekend and he is already a step ahead in pursuing his goals. At 17 years old, Ducharme was recruited for the men’s cross country program at Dawson Community College in Glendive. “I’m excited to be a part of their team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to being challenged by a college program and seeing what the training and competition is like at that level.”
Jonah competed in cross-country for three-consecutive years at Polson High School. He is a three-time letter winner with personal best times that included completing a 5K at 17 minutes 41 seconds, 800 meters at 2:21, 1,600 meters at 4:58, and 3,200 meters at 10:49. He said the sport came natural for him. “My dad is a runner so that really motivated me. I wanted to make him proud and also see if I could outdo him,” he said jokingly.
The graduate said moving in with his father Brian Ducharme changed his outlook on physical health and performance. “Most of my time was spent playing video games and eating junk food, I wasn’t really healthy inside or out,” he said. “I started running with my dad and it changed my perception on my health and how I spent my free time and the food I ate. I became motivated for the first time and I just wanted to get better. Naturally, I lost weight but my overall health improved and how I viewed my body and athletic performance.”
The pair has competed in countless marathons and 5Ks throughout the Northwest together, most recently the Bloomsday 12K (7.456 Miles) in Spokane, Washington. Brian said his son’s hard work is bound to pay off. “Jonah is a bright kid and he works hard. We’ve been planning for this day for a while and we’ve been working towards building his future. I want him to be successful and happy no matter what he chooses to do.”
Outside of sports, Jonah also excels in his studies and has already obtained college credits by attending courses at Salish Kootenai College. He was also selected to present for 115 other students in Washington, DC last June as part of the TRIO Upward Bound program. “It was an awesome experience being able to present in DC,” he said. “I basically just shared my thoughts on whether or not freedom of speech should have restrictions and I was chosen to present it. It kind of inspired me to possibly pursue politics.”
Aside from politics, Jonah said working with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ Natural Resources Department inspired him to ponder a career in wildlife. “I worked for the Wild Land Recreation program in the summer with Terry Tanner and I learned a lot from that experience,” he said. “We cleared trails and just being outside all day made me think about possible careers in that field. There is just so much you could be and I’m still deciding what it is I want to go into.”
No matter the field Jonah chooses to study, he said his goal is to give back to his community. “I grew up here on the Reservation and it made me who I am,” he said. “I definitely want to get out there and see the world but my long-term goal is to serve my community the best I can.”