The amount of colleges interested in landing Mead senior Nolan Hoffman multiplied after what many close to the high school running scene viewed as a surprising state cross country win in late October.
Less surprising maybe is the fact he stayed loyal to a school he said believed in him from the start of his recruitment. He made it official with the Colorado School of Mines on National Signing Day last month.
“I had quite a few schools in the mix, but the School of Mines was one of the first that actually contacted me and that I had conversations with,” the Longmont Times-Call boys runner of the year said. “They were kind of always there. Which I think helped me — I felt like I was believed in.”
Commitment isn’t something Hoffman takes for granted in the aching world of long-distance running.
With a sense of pride, the senior discussed the cross country program at Mead High School much like someone could about his own running arc. Underdogs in a sense, both taken from humble beginnings — if you’d guess, you’d say each appears to be still on the rise.
Of course before all this, both Hoffman and the Mavericks would be first to point out that there hadn’t been much history of decorated runners or past accolades to come through the program. Even now, it’s small compared to some other running powerhouses like nearby Niwot.
Hoffman, for his part, said he was fully aware that he wasn’t among the favorites to win cross country gold this fall. Not like some of the other bigger names inside one of the country’s long-distance cornerstone states.
Not that any of it mattered.
“This has just been building up the last couple of years,” Hoffman said. “We learned how to get fast like a high schooler without having to train or pay for a club. We just figured out how to grit together and we worked so hard the last couple of years that it just culminated in that one race.”
Previously finishing 44th and 50th at the state meet, Hoffman held off Battle Mountain’s Porter Middaugh in the final meters to win the Class 4A championship race in Colorado Springs on Oct. 29.
Then last weekend, racing at the prestigious Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships in Alabama, Hoffman tied for ninth in the boys’ gold race. He turned in a time of 15 minutes and 22.20 seconds despite the muddy conditions.
“That was one of, if not the best race I put together this year,” he texted afterward.
Adding to his legacy these past two months, time will tell if it’ll propel his high school program’s future in turn.
“It remains to be seen, but I hope his legacy helps the program grow a bit,” said Mavs coach Steve Parsons, who was full of praise for his ace runner. “Mead and the surrounding area aren’t so much of a quote-un-quote running culture … so it can be difficult to attract kids. Nolan’s success should help with that, I think. It certainly solidifies the buy-in from the kids here now.”