A Season to Remember: Runner Sets School Records
A Season to Remember: Runner Sets School Records

After winning nine out of 12 cross country races this fall with top 10 finishes in the North Coast Section and state championships, Stuart Hall senior Eli Horwitz pivots to the track where he expects the record-setting year to continue.

Leaping off the line at the start of State Cross Country Championships in Fresno on November 26, senior Eli Horwitz went out fast and ran most of the race in a tight group behind the leader. He finished the 3.1-mile course in 16:00, good for 10th place out of 200 Division V runners and a spot on the podium.

Even more impressive was Eli's season-long journey toward an appearance in the state meet. He crossed the line first in nine of the 12 races he ran this year, including a signature win at the highly competitive Stanford Invitational in early October. Eli won all five Bay Counties League-West meets, becoming the first Knight to achieve that feat and one of a handful of student-athletes ever to do so.

"It's an incredible accomplishment in itself," says Michael Buckley, Stuart Hall High School social science faculty and cross country head coach, "but even more impressive considering the strength of our particular league." The BCL-West, which consistently sends distance runners to compete in college, had two teams in the top five in the state and six teams in the top 10 in the section.

"I never thought I would be able to call myself a league champion," Eli says. "I attribute my success to never losing a race in the last 100 meters. I did exactly what I needed to do to put myself in a winning position, and I was able to pull away in the end almost every time."

Another highlight was collecting a third place finish at the North Coast Section Championships in a blazing-fast 15:26 over the three mile course. During the awards ceremony, Eli learned that his time stands as the ninth-fastest ever at the Division V NCS Championships.

"In the running program, he has cultivated an environment that promotes determination, discipline and most importantly enthusiasm," Eli says of his coach. "Coach Buckley helped me discover a sport that I love and can always strive to become better at."

Eli holds every meaningful school record for distance running, including three miles (15:26) and 5K (15:54), and holds course records at the Stanford Invitational (15:59), Mt. San Antonio College (16:16) and Lindley Meadow in Golden Gate Park (16:19).

Despite Eli's standout cross country season, Mike calls him "an even better track athlete." And Eli is confident his record-setting year will continue this spring. "I really can't wait to blow away all my personal records in track," he says. "I know I can improve in every single event."

With interest from several Division I college programs, Eli's goals extend beyond this year. "I have the elusive four-minute [mile] barrier as a goal I'd be thrilled to achieve some day." Mike knows that the secret ingredient all great runners seem to posses will give him an edge. "Eli is the most knowledgeable athlete I've coached and among the savviest when it comes to racing strategy."

Photo credit: Brion Hu

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