gatfxc.com- Hunter, when did you become interested in running and what was your first race?
After I did my first triathlon at age 11 and realized that I was passing most of the adults on the run, and that the run came pretty easy to me. First CC race was in 7th grade middle school where I fell and got beat by almost my entire team. I came in 1st for my team in every race after that for the next 5 years.
gatfxc.com- What's it like to run nearly all of your races in South Georgia (below Macon) and do you wish you could have raced more in the Metro Atlanta hotbed of distance running?
It can be boring having the same race situation every single week, along with the most oppressive weather conditions. You can't really have race tactics when the field never changes. I do wish I could have raced more in Atlanta, so I could face the state competition and strategize for state or at least know where I stand in the mix.
gatfxc.com- How do you feel about Tift County's chances at a region team title and do you guys have a goal for State?
Region is looking good for us and I feel like the boys team should win, and the girls team can win too, but they have to look out for Lowndes who has some great competition. My coach and I were just talking about state today. Our true goal has been trying to start a team that can one day soon actually be competitive at state. It may not be this year or the next but we are building towards that goal. Our goal for state this year is to improve and have more guys up in the mix.
gatfxc.com- Tell us about your Triathlon career that very few people know about and which Sport do you prefer?
I have been racing triathlons since I was 11 which is 6 years. I started because my dad and mom were racing but mostly because I thought the bikes were really cool. I had been on the swim team for over a year, but was still playing baseball for my middle school team as well. I found myself really excelling through the triathlon rankings fairly quickly. I placed top 10 at Nationals on my first attempt at age 14, then placed 3rd the next year at age 15, in the Youth Elite Category where Tony Smoragiewicz beat me in the last part of the run. Last year at age 16(my first year in the National Junior Elite Division) I placed 4th at the Duathlon Nationals in Virginia and went on to compete at the Duathlon World Championships in Scotland in September. I went on to place 2nd at Nationals in San Diego, earning a silver medal and then leading my team onto the first ever Team Relay Gold Medal the next day. My teammates on that relay(who are both a year older than me) are both now part of the Junior Development program housed in Colorado Springs, and training at the olympic training center while attending college there. I finished 9th in the national rankings last year... my first year in the 16-19 age group. This year I earned a spot on the PANAM Team for Team USA where I competed in Edmonton Canada in mid July. I went on to place 4th at Nationals in San Diego this year in a stellar field where Lukas Verzbicas was won. I was able to beat Smoragiewicz in this race, which helped me earn a 4th place ranking nationally for the end of the season.Because I compete in the olympic format which is a draft legal bike, my strength would be my ability to run really fast off the bike which is sometimes different than just a 5k road race or cross country race
gatfxc.com- Just how tough are Triathlons and what is the most difficult part, the run, swim or biking?
Triathlons are extremely tough because at my current distance, I am racing just under an hour at an anaerobic pace. For me the most difficult part is the swim . In draft legal triathlons, you have to be in the top group coming out of the water to even have a chance at the end. It is been difficult for me to be in the top swim group because of the lack of facilities in South GA for me to train in. We have no indoor pool for the winter and even our heated outdoor pool has been broken the last two seasons of high school swim team. I often have to drive a good while to find indoor pools that will allow me to train. I also have no coach in those situations, so swimming hours a week in a pool alone, is very hard for me.
gatfxc.com- Are you proud of how Tift's program has grown over the past few years including the Middle School teams?
Of Course, because we have never been know as a cross country school, and at least in our region and in South GA, now we are. Our goal would be to take that to the state level in the near future. Our Middle School team has definitely grown over the last 4 years and they are already competitive at the state level. That is a great as these runners move up into high school because we finally have a feeder program.
gatfxc.com- How many Miles a week do you put in, along with Biking mileage and swims and share a bit of your Training regimen?
In my peak season from March to end of August, I am training roughly 21 hours per week. That would include 4 -two hour swim workouts/, 5 to 6 hours of running that includes two long runs, track workouts, tempo runs, and bike/ run brick workouts. The rest of the hours would be cycling workouts both on the trainer and long road rides. I focus on CC more in Sept, and Oct, then move into USA and high school swim season in Nov, Dec,and Jan, and then add back in the bike by Feb. The sports all overlap and I never get a true break. What I do, is take one week off between seasons to just rest my mind from the adrenaline rush of so much racing. I truly believe the cross training has kept my injuries at a minimum though.
gatfxc.com- Westover...what is your goal this Saturday and do you have a race plan?
To win of course, and run 15:20ish or lower and I'll tell you about my race plan after the race.
gatfxc.com- What are your favorite courses to race on and what course do you loathe?
Favorite courses would be the Westover course, and I love the Coach Wood race because of the course and competition. My favorite though is the Carrolton course. I have the most trouble with my home course because it is a gradual up hill, that iscompletely into the sun and run early in the season. This year we are changing it to ABAC which is a local college and I am excited about the new course.
gatfxc.com- Do you have any siblings that we should keep an eye out for in the future?
no...., just kidding my awesome sister Madison, who is tearing up the middle school rankings. She is a great triathlete as well, but she really enjoys the run and swim the most. She is running some really fast 2 mile times where she is undefeated in South GA among the girls and has only been beaten by three or 4 of the boys at most meets. She is going to be stronger once the distance is a 5k because she is a true distance runner and likes the longer course(just like her big brother who can't wait for the 10k distance).
gatfxc.com- What are your personal goals for the 2011 XC season and the 2012 Track season?
Well my junior year did not go exactly the way I wanted it to after a couple of nagging injuries last year, so I am hoping to make up for some of that this season. Personal goal for CC is a PR at Westover in 15:20 range, and to go after the state title in 5A at Carrollton. In Track, a try for the state title in the 3200 or 1600 with times in the range of sub 9:20 and 4:15. I would also like to make a great showing(possible top 10) at Footlocker regionals in NC this year. That would be a great senior year if I could accomplish any of that so I am pushing myself towards those goals.
gatfxc.com- What accomplishments are you most pleased with on the Trail and Track?
Well, I am very proud that I am the undefeated Champion in Region 1-5A CC for the last 3 years and I intend to make it 4 this year. I have also won 3 (again trying for 4) region titles in the 3200 and 2(going for 3) titles in the 1600. That has been a great accomplishment for me.
gatfxc.com- What Colleges are on your radar after graduation and do you have plans on running at the Collegiate level? and what are you planning on majoring in?
I would love to run at the collegiate level of course. There are some great programs out there and I would be lucky to run at any of them As for colleges, I am especially interested in UGA, the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, FSU, App State and Auburn. These are all great colleges, most of them in the South East, but with the major that I am looking for and with great opportunities to train even if I don't get to run at the college level. I plan to major pre-med/pre PT with an undergraduate major in Exercise Science and Kinesiology. I really want to be in sports medicine one day at some professional level.
gatfxc.com- What advice would you have for an aspiring young runner or Tri-Athlete?
Don't let obstacles deter you. Set your goal, figure out a plan to achieve it, and find people/coaches who can help you get there. It shouldn't matter where you are from, or who you know , but only how bad do you want it. But mostly, always have a plan!
gatfxc.com- OK. time for some personal questions so the Community can get a glimpse of who you are..
What are your:
Favorite Foods/ Restaurant.......Chicken Parmesan at Maggiano's
Favorite Movies/TV Shows........The Patriot and The Office
Musical Preferences...................John Mayer and Mumford and Sons
Favorite Books........................Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and more recently, Outliers
Favorite Sports you don't compete in........................Ice Hockey
Favorite Quotes.......................Isaiah 40:31
Favorite Runners or Athletes you admire---Ryan Hall because his faith comes before everything including running. The Brownlee Brothers from Great Britian(triathletes) --they completely changed the draft legal triathlon instead of having to run a 30 min 10 k off the bike you now have to run sub 29 min.