Hrycay adds his name to elite list of long-distance standouts at Craig High
JANESVILLE In the last 10 years, Brian Lawton coached three of the most accomplished male runners in the history of Janesville Craig High School.
Andy Shortslef, Josh Lund and Tommy Meister all made their mark in cross country and track at Craig before taking their talents to the collegiate level.
Lawton, the school's co-head coach in cross country, believes Spencer Hrycay is next in line.
Hrycay is poised to make a run at a top-five finish in both the 1,600- and 3-200-meter runs at the WIAA state track meet in June. The University of Kentucky recruit also ran at state four times in cross country, including being the No. 2 runner behind Meister on Craig's 2011 Division 1 state runner-up team.
"Spencer definitely deserves to be mentioned in the same league as those three," Lawton said. "He holds three of our school's cross country records for various courses we run, and those are the same courses that Andy, Josh and Tommy ran.
"He lived in the shadow of Josh and Tommy, particularly Tommy, for his first three years at Craig, but now it's his time. And he's ready because of the work he has put in."
Hrycay—pronounced Ritz-I—wanted to leave his own mark his senior year. He knew he couldn't avoid the comparisons with the other three greats, and that's what made him work harder to prove himself. Hrycay ran an average of 50 miles per week over the summer, including some weeks where he pushed himself to 65 to 70 miles.
"A lot of things motivated me coming into my senior year," Hrycay said. "But probably the biggest thing was knowing how hard the guys that came before worked and where that got them.
"My freshman and sophomore years, I kind of avoided the weight room because I was just this skinny little kid. Now I realize how important it is to make that part of your daily workout schedule."
A miserable spring—weather-wise—has slowed Hrycay. The Cougars have competed in only three meets and all three were in less-than-ideal conditions. Hrycay won the 1,600 at the Watertown Invitational on Saturday and finished third in the 800, an event he's not likely to run in the postseason.
Besides finding the podium (top 6) in both the 1,600 and 3,200 at state, Hrycay's biggest goal this spring is breaking Lund's school record of 9:14 in the 3,200.
Craig boys track coach Jeff Deininger believes Lund's mark may fall.
"Talent-wise, Spencer certainly has the ability to break it," Deininger said. "And under the right situation and the right circumstances, it might just happen.
"The thing that impresses me most about Spencer is that whether it's in the classroom or on the track, he has great discipline and focus. And to see his progression from where he was a freshman to where he is now is pretty cool. It's a tribute to his work ethic and desire to get better."
Hrycay, the son of Steve and Jill, excels in the classroom, as well. An honor student with a GPA of 3.75, Hrycay was a four-time all-state academic honoree in cross country and plans to enroll in pre-med at Kentucky. He wants to be a radiologist.
The succession of premier male runners continues at Craig High School. Spencer Hrycay is next up.
The Hrycay file
Person I admire most: My dad (Steve).
Prerace routine: The night before I eat pasta, and the day of I hang out with friends to relax.
Best sports memory: Finishing second as a team at state in cross country (2011).
TV show I never miss: "Game of Thrones."
Favorite food: Pizza.
Favorite pastime: Playing video games with friends.
Favorite movie: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."
In 10 years, I'll be: Finishing up medical school.
Best invention in the last 100 years: Computer.
An unusual thing the average person wouldn't know about me: I sing really loud in the car.
Dream job: Radiologist.
If I could have one super power, it would be: To fly.
If I could play any other sport, it would be: Basketball.
Favorite all-time performer (sports hero): Steve Prefontaine.
If I could have dinner with one famous person (dead or alive), it would be: Denzel Washington.
Music that gets the most play on my iPod: Oldies. Something from the 70s or 80s.