Two of Colorado's Finest

Danny Carney and Erin Hooker bring the state's top returning times, and a lot of hopes and dreams, into the new season. Colorado Track XC file photo/contributed photo. Free Content.

 

We are just two weeks away from opening weekend of a new cross country season in Colorado. People in the know know that Colorado is beyond deep in high school cross country talent. Especially so in proportion to the state's population.

In this piece we take a look at the profiles of two of Colorado's finest. Read on and find out a little more about what keeps the motor running for Danny Carney and Erin Hooker. We'll start with Danny Carney:


Athlete Name:  Danny Carney

School: Dakota Ridge High School

Year of Graduation: 2012

Best time in a 5K cross country race and in which meet.

5K - 15:25 at the Nike Southwest Regional Meet in Phoenix, AZ

Tell us how your summer training is going?

Compared to last year it is going great! I had physical therapy all last summer and so to not have to do that this summer and to feel consistent in my training feels really good. We had our team camp up in Bailey, CO, and it was really nice to be able to get some really long runs in up at altitude and on some beautiful trails. Our team has run together a lot and just have that desire to train hard, so it has been pretty fun.

What are your goals for the upcoming season?

I want to do my best to win state, run consistently in the 15 minute range, qualify for either Nike or Foot Locker (haven't decided which I want to go to yet), and get in the top 15 or 10 at the race I go to.
 
How long have you been running and how did you get started?

I started in 7th grade with my middle school program that is run through our high school program. My older brother and sister were both runners and my sister was on a state championship team, so that really made me have a desire to be a part of that team and do well because it looked like so much fun. Also my Dad became our middle school coach in 8th grade, so he helped me get motivated a lot as well.
 
Will you be competing out of state this season?

During season I think we will be staying in the wonderful state of Colorado, but I will definitely be going to the Nike Southwest Regional with my team and possibly the Foot Locker regional up in Wisconsin.

What is your favorite course to run in your state?

I have always liked the Cherry Creek Course and also the course at Clement Park where the Dave Sanders Invitational is held and my league meet has been. I love running on the trails at Cherry Creek and just the atmosphere there. I have run so much at Clement it is nice to have a course I am familiar with that I enjoy and after having three meets there in a row last year I felt like I could have run it in my sleep.

What is the toughest course to run in your state?

I think that the course at Addenbrooke Park where the Praire View Invite is held is hard with how many creek crossings it has. But I would say the new State course at Arapahoe County Fairgrounds [is the toughest]. Those hills are brutal if you go out too hard, and the dust and lack of shade aren't very fun either.

What is your favorite cross country race so far in your high school career?

Probably the League meet we had last year when my friend, Austin Appel, and I went 1-2 and my team won, as did the girls team. That was really fun to win it with everyone and I would also have to say that Nike Southwest last year is tied for first. I went into it completely happy with whatever would happen and just wanting to do my best and I ended up qualifying which was a really nice surprise.

Favorite cross country memory?

Probably meeting all of the elite athletes for Nike at Nike Cross Nationals and hanging around the whole weekend with the other kids from Colorado and the Southwest. It was really fun to be all together in such a cool racing atmosphere. Also my team camps each year have been incredible.

When you are not running what is your favorite thing to do?

I love reading and just hanging out with my friends and my team as much as I can.

Favorite quote?

Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."
 



Athlete Name:  Erin Hooker

School: Fort Collins High School

Year of Graduation: 2013

Best time in a 5K cross country race and in which meet.

My best 5K time at altitude in Colorado was at the Titan Thunder Invitational in 2010 where I ran 17:58. My time at a lower altitude was in Arizona at the 2010 Nike Cross Southwest Regionals where I ran 17:45.

Tell us how your summer training is going?

My summer training has been going very well and I am lucky that I haven’t had any injuries. I am very lucky to live in Colorado where there are so many trails, particularly in Fort Collins. I am also very fortunate for my coaches that spend so much of their time preparing me for the upcoming season. I feel like I am getting stronger and am prepared for a challenging season.

What are your goals for the upcoming season?

I want to improve significantly from last year and be a solid leader for my team. I would like to compete at Foot Locker and NXN this year if everything is going smoothly.   

How long have you been running and how did you get started?

I have been running ever since I was very little because both of my parents are runners. At first I got started by riding my bike next to my parents while they ran, and then decided to ditch the bike and enter several road races. I was a competitive swimmer up until 8th grade when I began cross country. I have only been running with serious training for about 2 years now.

Will you be competing out of state this season?

If I am healthy I will hopefully compete at NXN Southwest Regionals, and possibly at a Foot Locker regional race. I really enjoy competing out of state and seeing all of the different courses and racing new people.

What is your favorite course to run in your state?

This will have to be a tie between the Titan Thunder Invitational and the Liberty Bell Invitational. Titan Thunder is in a beautiful location and is usually on a Saturday morning which is a nice change from the usual afternoon meets. Liberty Bell Invitational is extremely fast, has some of the best competition, and has a crazy atmosphere!

What is the toughest course to run in your state?

The 2010 State cross country course was extremely challenging and has been the most difficult course I have ever raced. The dust, the heat, and the wind were big components on this course at Pre-State and at the State meet.

What is your favorite cross country race so far in your high school career?

Nike Cross Nationals is such a unique experience and by far my favorite race. Not only is the race different, but the environment people are in for the days surrounding the meet is even more unique. You are surrounded by the best teams, individuals, and pro athletes in the nation, and everyone is having such a good time!

Favorite cross country memory?  

Both of the years I have run have given me so many fantastic memories but our team getting 3rd at NXN my freshman year was really special, and the finish to the 2010 cross country season was very special as well. When the team got 3rd at NXN I really fell in love with the sport of cross country and racing in general. I realized what a team is about and how hard we worked for that spot. I believe that I got an even greater idea of what a really close team is last year in the 2010 season. Winning both boys and girls 5A State for cross country, traveling to the regional NXN Southwest meet together, and having both our girls and boys teams be top 10 in the Nation was a complete dream. I am so thankful that I get to run with such amazing people every day that support each other.    

When you are not running what is your favorite thing to do?

I enjoy reading Outside magazine, eating pretzel M&Ms, and listening to good music… all at the same time.

Favorite quote?

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.” Robert Frost

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