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With the dust finally settled on the Buffalo Ranch, CU junior Jake Hurysz had a chance to reflect on his near record-setting performance at the 27th annual Rocky Mountain Shootout.
“I didn’t really expect to run in the 24:30s,” said Hurysz, a recent transfer from University of North Carolina. “That day I was just hoping to break 25 minutes, just because the results kind of show that it’s really difficult to break 25 minutes. It’s really humbling, and it gives me a lot of confidence going in to the later parts of the season.”
The race, which was held on Sept. 29, marked Hurysz’s first race in a Buffalo uniform. He showed the crowd a clean pair of heels as he finished the race in a stunning 24:34 — 30-seconds clear of the nearest competitor.
The time marked the fourth fastest ever ran on the course and made him the third fastest performer in CU history. The only names in front of his are US Olympian’s Jorge Torres and Adam Goucher; behind are even more Olympians, multiple time All-Americans and NCAA champions. To say he has put himself in elite company would be an understatement.
A North Carolina native, Hurysz is no stranger to the running world spotlight. As a high schooler, he recorded the second-fastest two-mile time in state history, took away state titles in cross country and on the track (3200m) and placed sixth in the prestigious Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships.
Hurysz record streak continued when he enrolled at the University of North Carolina. In 2011, he became the first Tar Heel to qualify for the NCAA Cross Country Championships since 1997, where he placed a respectable 62nd as a sophomore.
Though he experienced modest success at Chapel Hill, in the spring of 2012 Hurysz brought his talent to CU. Under the notoriously difficult tutelage of Mark Wetmore, Hurysz competed unattached for the 2012 track season, lowering his personal bests in the 5,000 meters (13:38) and 1,500 meters (3:42), times which, if wearing a CU jersey, would have made him the seventh and ninth fastest performer in Buffalo history.
“I didn’t really expect to adjust that quickly,” Hurysz said. “That was my main concern: coming in and it taking forever for me to get that feeling back. But my pieces fell together probably within the first month I was here.”
Even with his individual success as a Buff, Hurysz’s eyes are staunchly aimed at team success.
“We want to win Pac-12s and get on the podium at nationals,” he said. “My individual goals will take care of themselves, and I hope my individual goals will impact our team goals.”
With a large chunk of the 2012 cross country season still on the horizon, it can be easy to get distracted by early season accolades — like third fastest performer at the Ranch. But for CU’s number one runner, it’s all about running well come November.
“Here we’re more focused on NCAAs rather than marking down something like Stanford as the big meet of the season,” he said. “Obviously it’s a great chance to run fast, but we race for a different purpose here.”
The Buffaloes are currently ranked seventh in the NCAA. At last year’s championships, CU – a perennial NCAA powerhouse – placed third. Though the 2011 squad has lost some big players due to graduation (Andy Wacker, Richard Medina) and to injury (Joe Bosshard), with the addition of Hurysz and the development of some very talented young runners, this could prove to be a historic season for Hurysz and the Buffaloes.
“I’d like to have an NCAA title under my belt, individually in whatever race it may be, but I want our cross country team to win; that’s the main goal for me, the big thing is take it step by step,” Hurysz said.
Since 1992 the Buffaloes have ran in every NCAA Cross Country Championship, have three times been the NCAA Champs and twice runner-up; the last of those being a first place finish in 2006. The Buffaloes have been without an NCAA title for six years, but again it’s been nearly 10 since someone has ran as fast as Jake Hurysz.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Ryan Sterner at Ryan.firstname.lastname@example.org.