So far this calendar year it has only taken Loudoun Valley sophomore Andrew Hunter 20 laps to lead the state both in the 1600 and 3200. Earlier this month, in his first major race of the outdoor season, Andrew ran his way onto the top of the state leaderboard with his 4:14.60 1600m performance. Nearly anyone aside from Andrew would have been jumping up and down with joy but Andrew just kept asking his coach, and mother, if he was hearing the time correctly.
"The goal coming in was to go sub 4:20, I didn't think I could go 4:14, it was a really cool experience... maybe I should make my goals for this season harder," Andrew noted.
Andrew has had quite an interesting sophomore year thus far. It started back in cross country season where he went onto win the state title in that sport in an impressive time of 15:37. He would have loved to follow this success up with at least one title indoors but his county does not have an indoor season and thus cost him that opportunity.
"It was frustrating seeing others run times when I couldn't run. I ran in some meets out of the state, but I didn't have anyone to push me," said Andrew.
Though it may have been very frustrating, he seemed to use that well when he took the track at the Virginia Meet of Champions and won the race by himself in 9:11. That time, basically the only time he ran in-state set him atop the state leaderboard in the event when he technically did not even have an indoor season. He also said that that performance served as a great confidence boost moving into the outdoor season, especially when he ran essentially on his lonesome the entire race and still found a way to close in 65 seconds.
Moving forward into the season Andrew will be looking to not only win some titles in the 1600 but also to start dominating his favorite event, the 3200. He will be competing at the Penn Relays in under two weeks in an attempt to win the 3000m run where he is seeded 14th. He said this meet as well as Southern Track Classic are some of the biggest meets he will be competing in this season and great illustrations of how he will perform and in what he should run at outdoor nationals.
Specifically at the 3A outdoor state championships should be a great show. Andrew is strongly considering, if possible, to triple in events, running the 1600, 800, and 3200. He will likely be the athlete to watch in all of these events. Not only because he is a phenominal runner but also because his positioning in these races will likely decide whether Blacksburg or Lafayette place highly in the team title race. He will face off with Lafayette's Derek Holdsworth in the 800, Blacksburg's Kenneth Hagen in the 1600, and Lafayette's Jason Menzies in the 3200. All three of these races will be excellent races to watch in Charlottesville.
Though there are a ton of things to look forward to this season for him and as a fan, one must be quick to remember he is only a sophomore. Being a sophomore gives him many advantages that others do not have, time especially. Having two former runners as his coaches and parents no doubt aids him in his training.
"We have a really long-term approach, winter was all base work with some speed. We are still doing tempo runs and adding quicker things afterwords. There really have not any negatives to having my parents as coaches. They understand me and don't force things, they really care about recovery."
It should be mentioned that his parents are not just individuals who picked the sport up, they both ran very competitively and have trained some of the best runners our country has ever seen. His mother was a two-time state champion for James Madison in the 800 while his father was a numerous time state champion in Ohio and has bragging rights of having a 13:36 personal best in the 5,000m run. His mom was also recently a member of a 4x400 world record for their age group at the Millrose Games. Needless to say they can run and know what they are doing, that is all on top of the fact that they coached Alan Webb in high school.
With his speed, drive, ability, and stellar coaches who could probably still run very fast, he will no doubt continue to be an athlete to watch and cheer on in the coming years. He did however have to answer one hard question: "what do you want your headline to read after your high school career?". He simply said "Multiple time state champion and national champion." Andrew will look to move closer to these goals very soon with these meets coming up this June and further in his career over the next two years. These races will be filled with excitement and hopefully more times that even have us taking a second look at and asking if those times are correct.