Once the starting gun sounded, Hufman’s legs sprang into action and utilizing long strides that have been honed during countless practice miles, the senior moved to the front of the pack.
Over the next 18 minutes and 28 seconds, Huffman refused to yield his first-place position, and upon crossing the finish line, he smiled an acknowledgement of the feelings of pleasure that accompanied his second victory this season.
“What’s been going really well this year is that I’ve been training hard and racing,” Hufman explained. “Racing has been a big part of what we’ve been doing this year. I ran a lot in the offseason, and I’ve gotten stronger every year.”
A career defined by improvementWhile Hufman’s results this season have been stellar, the Dolores cross-country star’s career did not begin with victories and accolades, but rather, with long, difficult practice runs and middle-of-the-pack finishes.
Somewhat of a late bloomer in the sport of running, Hufman did not set foot on a track until his eighth-grade year, at which point he joined his school’s track team and began to honing his stride. After his family moved to Dolores prior to his freshman year of high school, Hufman decided to join his school’s cross-country team and almost immediately developed a love of running.
“When I moved here, I figured out that there was a cross-country team,” Hufman said. “What kept me (on the team) is that I’ve been getting better every year. I want to go to college and run.”
Although Hufman did not qualify for the state cross-country meet as a freshman, the now four-year runner continued to hone his craft and finished 71st in the Class 2A State Cross-country Meet as a sophomore with a time of 19:48.60.
Hufman qualified for the Class 2A State Track Championships later in his sophomore year and finished 15th in the 3,200-meter run before breaking out in cross-country as a junior and finishing 20th at state with a time of 17:38.50.
A second straight appearance at the Class 2A State Track Championships last season yielded a 16th-place finish in the 3,200-meter run, and after a summer defined by numerous practice runs, Hufman has been turning in outstanding results this season.
“I want to go to state and finish in the Top 10,” said the senior, when asked about his goals. “That’s what I’m looking at this year. We’re trying to place to place at regionals as a team and hopefully take the whole team to state for the first time ever.”
As for his plans for the future, Hufman, who enjoys biology and also suits up for his school’s varsity basketball team, said that he would like to attend college at Humboldt State University or the University of Kentucky, where he would attempt to continue to run.
Right now, however, Hufman plans to continue to build his conditioning under the watchful eye of Dolores cross-country coach Lance Webster, who has been key to the senior’s development.
“Our coach right now, Lance Webster, has been instrumental in my success,” Hufman said. “He knows the science behind running, and he knows how to make runners fast.”
While results at Colorado’s state cross-country meet are always far from certain, local fans should not be surprised if Hufman, who has earned a reputation as one of his school’s hardest-working athletes, finishes near the front of the pack.