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Cross country: Longmont’s Connor McCormick primed to lead team in 2021

Trojans’ senior coming off solid track season

LONGMONT, CO- Aug. 20, 2021: Longmont ...
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
LONGMONT, CO- August 20, 2021: Longmont High School cross country runner, Connor McCormick. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Connor McCormick wasn’t supposed to be a cross country runner.

When the Longmont senior entered his freshman year with the Trojans, he focused solely on his football career in the fall and ran track in the spring to help him stay in shape. As it turned out, he was pretty good at this whole running thing.

That changed his whole mindset and approach to high school athletics, and he made the switch during the fall of his sophomore year.

“Everyone was just like, ‘Hey, you should join the cross team.’ … But after the track season ended and I had to make a decision to play football in the summer, I decided right as the track season ended that I’d do cross country,” McCormick said. “Football and cross country are completely different, so it was kind of like entering a whole new feel of the sport. You’re going from a full-contact sport to something that’s just racing against other people. It’s mostly a battle against yourself.”

It didn’t take long for McCormick to break through the running scene.

During just his fourth cross country race — the incredibly talent-packed St. Vrain Invitational — McCormick crossed the finish line at 16 minutes, 23 seconds, which placed him at sixth out of 283. He shocked the competition back then and he hasn’t stopped.

“He surprises us,” assistant coach Jim Giveans said. “I don’t think we know quite what he can do. Losing that sophomore year of (track) was a little bit tough (in 2020), not having that extra year. I don’t think we got his full effort out of cross country with what he’s really capable of.”

This year, it will be quite the opposite.

With Season D sports, including track, running late into June, McCormick took advantage of the extra time in between running seasons to build up his endurance and knock off some of his times.

He shocked the competition once more during the Class 4A state track and field championships in June. In the final leg of the 800-meter run, McCormick put the pedal to the metal and went into overdrive on the final 150 meters. In doing so, he managed to beat out George Washington’s Charley Welch and Niwot’s Grayden Rauba by eight-hundredths of a second to take home the silver.

He finished second in the mile run in a similar fashion as he inched ahead of Mountain View’s Jackson Shorten by just four-tenths of a second.

“He’s grown a lot since his sophomore year after obviously, not going to state his sophomore year, just coming in and learning,” Giveans said. “This last season, the junior season, what’s going to help him is one, the season ran long. We ran all the way to the middle of June, whereas we normally finish in May, so he’s coming in with a lot more speed. That track season was amazing. He knocked off five seconds in his last two meets (St. Vrain and the state meet), both meets, so he took 10 seconds off in both races of his previous PR in the mile.”

The quick two-month turnaround from the end of track season should have helped keep McCormick, and every distance runner, in primed shape for the fall cross country season, but McCormick has a secret weapon that he’s been harboring for the past year.

He continued to train throughout the winter for the first time in his high school career. Now, he’s ready for whatever the 4A competition may throw at him in 2021 and looks forward to seeing how he’ll stack up against some of the top talent.

“The end of last season definitely gave me a lot of confidence, knowing that I can hang with some of the top guys,” McCormick said. “I don’t really have too many expectations for myself. I’m just kind of competing against myself, trying to improve every race and compete at state.”

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