Seated next to his family members and his high school coach, Lance Webster, Dolores High School standout Phillip Hufman signed a national letter of intent to run at Humboldt State University next season.
The signing, which took place at Dolores High School on Dec. 10, was a proud moment for the high school senior, whose tireless work ethic and competitive spirit allowed him to become one of the finest distance runners in his school’s history.
Now, thanks in large part to a 20th-place finish in Colorado’s 2A Classification at the Colorado State Cross-country Championships as a junior and a 12th-place finish as a senior, Hufman will have an opportunity to compete after high school.
“Humboldt State University actively recruited me, and they had the academic program I wanted,” said Hufman, who plans to study forestry and wildland conservation. “The (cross-country team) is kind of struggling right now, but they’re on the up, and I really want to help them become a program like they were in the ’80s and ’90s, where they were kind of dominant in the region.”
Upon arriving at Humboldt State University next fall, Hufman will begin his college career under the tutelage of head cross-country coach Jamey Harris, who was hired in July and recently wrapped up his first season as head coach.
A two-time Division I All-American at Fresno State in the late ’90s, Harris figures to bring energy to his team while using his expertise to aid in the development of runners such as Hufman.
“It’s an honor to coach cross-country at Humboldt State,” said Harris in an article published on the school’s website. “The Lumberjacks have a proud tradition, and we’re going to work hard to add another chapter to that.”
While Hufman will have his work cut out for him competing against other college athletes, the Dolores senior stressed that he is excited to test himself against what he knows will be tougher competition than he has previously faced.
Humboldt State University’ cross-country program competes at the Division II level as a member of the California Collegiate Athletic Association, and runners regularly square off against Division I runners at nonconference meets.
“What I’m looking forward to most is the jump in the level of competition,” Hufman said. “I’m really looking forward to being able to compete nationally and being able to compete against better levels of competition.”
Fresh off a 12th -place finish in Colorado’s 2A Classification at the Colorado State High School Cross-country Championships this fall, Hufman plans to spend the winter running 50 to 60 miles per week.
Hufman will compete as a member of Dolores High School’s track team before graduating this spring and heading west to the Humboldt State campus that he expects will be his home for the next four years.
“I like the weather in (Arcata, California),” the senior said. “It’s 50 to 60 degrees all year long, and it’s really foggy. The country is supposed to be beautiful, and I’m going to be 10 minutes away from the ocean and 20 minutes away from the redwood forests.”
Asked what he will remember most about his time at Dolores High School, Hufman said that he will never forget the support that he received from his teachers, coaches, classmates and family members.
“The community is extremely supportive, and my parents and coaches have always been distinctly aware of what I wanted to accomplish,” Hufman said. “They’ve gotten me to the place where I want to be.”