By Jeremiah Slater
The resurgent Hawk cross-country and track and field teams have gone almost unnoticed by the eyes of their college.
Recent national championship visits and a victory have HCC’s cross-country and track and field teams rising back to their former glory. Before the current head coach came to the college, there was not much to say about the teams in recent years.
HCC’s track and field program specifically was a national powerhouse in the mid-70s to mid-80s. A majority of these championships came under the two longest tenured head coaches of the program: Rick Erdmann and current the athlete director Robert Myers.
Since the days when HCC was a powerhouse, the teams have declined greatly, leaving the new Head Coach Nick Snyder the job of bring it back to the national front. He arrived at HCC in late 2011, with no assistant coaches, in preparation for the indoor track season that began in early 2012.
Snyder said that when first arriving neither programs had many members, barely having enough for teams. However, he said very little recruiting was done, and most athletes came to him.
Snyder said he had about 20 athletes in his first year, which he has now nearly doubled in his second and that he expects to add to this number during this next year with the recruiting system in better shape than when he arrived.
Snyder said, “It’s a team sport,” despite the common outlook that it is an individual sport. He emphasized that the larger a team becomes, the more improvement there will be overall.
Student athlete Rachel Lilley said, “Coach understands how to work with individual aspects as well.”
In Snyder’s short time at HCC, his words have come to be true. Team membership has nearly doubled. The Hawks now have a national champion in Grant Smith and an all-American in Brandon Horning. In cross-country, Snyder sent a full girls and boys team to nationals in November.
Snyder has already made a major impact on the program, not only reaching nationals, but ensuring the Hawks leave their mark.
The athletes have a great relationship with their new coach, especially Lilley and her teammates Brady Boyer, Erika Kline, and Casey Barr. Even finding more than academics in the required time to be spent studying in the LSC.
These teammates contribute some of the chemistry they have as a team to the time spent in the LSC.
Snyder described some of these athletes from some of the success stories heard of in the program. Both track and cross-country runners Lilley, Kline, and Barr gives all the credit to their improvement to Snyder.
“We started from the scum of a runner’s shoe,” Kline said.Snyder even describes herself jokingly as “the germ on the scum of the shoe.”
Boyer spoke confidently that “they feel like they can compete with any school now.”
Snyder emphasized that the role of the coach is just one part of the team’s success. That comes when the “right coaching staff comes into play” with the runners themselves.
William Atchison, a cross-country and track runner who was in the program before Snyder, said, “It was a big transition to make when he arrived but there was a noticeable change in the team.”
Director Myers, former nine year head coach of cross-country and track and field teams, emphasized his confidence in Snyder to bring HCC back to the national level.
Myers further said that while the college is in a time of transition. He hopes to reach people through more aggressive use of information over the web.
Coach Snyder does not let the low profile of track team affect his approach to the athletes, but he would appreciate some attention to their success.
“When teams have success, you want to brag about it,” he said.