Senior state champ reflects on lessons learned from track

Senior Nathan Hoy has ended his varsity track career strong with outstanding victories and performances in multiple events. His most recent triumph was at State when he placed first in the 400m Hurdle for the second time in two years and participated in the winning 4×400 team, making him a state champion for both junior and senior year.

Success wasn’t just handed to Hoy, however, he has worked athletically hard all four years to claim such titles. “Deserved is a little bit of a rash word. I know how hard I worked, and because I committed so much to my training, yes, the end goal is to cap a state title, but at the same time it’s all about competing. A lot of other guys are working hard, and it really comes down to who has the most heart in the final stretch. Winning is fun — don’t get me wrong. But life is a lot more than winning. It’s important to enjoy the process and be proud of how you got there. We put in a damn lot of work, so, yes, it was nice to see that all pay off.”

Like all champions, they have to start somewhere. With Hoy, the career didn’t start with him really having any big dreams.

“I didn’t exactly grow up a runner. I’ve played sports since I was little and was always quick, but during junior high track, I never thought it would amount to anything. Freshman year, [coach Dirk] Homewood saw something in me and took me under his wing. I worked hard but didn’t have any reason to believe I would be anything special,” Hoy said. “I became good friends with Hunter Lavallee and Sam Ahrenholz that year, and before I knew it, I was pretty invested in the program. At the end of the year, my times started to drop, and I ran a 58 second 400 hurdle race at Districts, making me 25th in the state. Everything escalated from there. Sophomore year, I started to train hard in the off season and qualified in the 4 hurdles along with contributing to the 4×4. I ran a 50 point my sophomore year. I was also part of the shuttle hurdle team that placed 6th that year.”

Hard work like Hoy’s had to stem from something, and he explained what that was.

“What got me into it? Honestly the values that Homewood was teaching me and the incredible team bond that I experienced along with meeting my closest friends is what really drew me to the sport. It’s a sport where you truly are able to witness hard work pay off and where you can actually push your limits. I began to enjoy grueling hard workouts solely because of the incredible people I was able to do them beside. After winning the 4 hurdles and the 4×4 my junior year, I was excited to keep the ball rolling and see how far I could actually go in this sport.”

To get to where he was and where he is still heading, Hoy had to work hard and commit himself to a disciplined cycle. “My training started back in late August. I started with a lot of speed and strength work. During the second cycle of the training session (around November) we started a new lifting schedule and started harder workouts. During this time, I was also focused on getting a good base, so I was putting in a lot of miles. I would lift at 6 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday along with workouts every day after school. Some days, lots of mileage followed by short speed work and some days we’d have hard workouts on the track. On Monday and Thursday, I would have workouts in the Dome at 9 p.m., at least when it was too snowy to do workouts on the track, and then wake up six hours later on some days and lift,” Hoy said.

“Diet wise, I try to eat pretty healthy during the year. No pop, no sweets, kind of standard stuff. I’m not insanely anal about it, but I definitely ate a lot chicken, pasta, rice and green food.”

Apart from fundamental training and preparation, Hoy shared the in the moment emotions and how he has succeeded with mind over matter mentality.

“What do I feel? That’s tough. There’s really no way to describe what racing feels like. Basically you spend 24 hours being nervous, visualizing and focusing on something that will literally only take 50 seconds. When the gun goes off, your body is filled with adrenaline, and, to be honest, it’s hard to remember a lot of races. Your body is running on adrenaline until you hit a point where your mind kicks in and you have to push past a mental wall. It’s actually a skill that takes a while to develop, but once you learn that, your body is actually a lot physically stronger than your mind. You learn to put that aspect aside and finish a strong race. All the work is done behind the scenes, though. Although you do get extremely nervous, it’s important to understand that nothing you do now will affect what is about to happen. You’ve already done all the work, and your body is ready and will do what it needs to do.”

When the medals and years fade away, Hoy still will remember the lessons and morals he learned in these years due to coaching and brotherly bonds. “The values and lessons I’ve learned from Homewood along with the incredible bond I’ve been lucky enough to create with some of the guys has been my favorite part. Homewood has taught me what it’s like to work hard, trust others, be humble and a lot of other values that are crucial in life,” Hoy said. “He is more than just a coach. He cares deeply about who you are as a person, your faith and how you treat others. The way he’s shaped my outlook on life and me as a person is truly unbelievable. He’s taught me to overcome adversity, keep a positive mindset and to always be grateful. Along with him being a father figure, I’ve also been able to meet some guys who are now my brothers. When you spend that much time with someone, and go through that much pain, sweat and tears, it’s inevitable that you’re going to get pretty dang close. Those relationships are  what I love the most. I think in track you’re truly able to appreciate your teammates the most because you actually have to push each other day in and day out, and you both have to sacrifice so much.”

Aided with the faith of these friendships and the nurturing of a coach, Hoy will be spreading his roots to attend Boulder, Colo., this fall, planning to see just how far he can go with this sport. With God at the center, Hoy’s trust is secure and his outlook is positive. He said, “I’m eager to see how far I can go in this sport, but I know that there is a ceiling somewhere. I just hope I won’t hit it for some time. My future plans are in God’s hands, and I’m excited to see what he has in store. I’m just going with the flow. If you would have told me I was going to run track in Colorado nine months ago, I would have laughed at you, so, hey, I’m just going where life takes me.”

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