The Unknown Champion

By: Kyle Markley

This past cross-country season was filled with record breaking performances and meet cancellations. Throughout all this, its easy to get caught up with the excitement around Newbury Park and their dominant performance at the Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships. But one name that isn’t as well known and shouldn’t be overlooked is newly crowned National Champion Riley Hough of Hartland, MI.

Hough quietly put together one of the best high school cross country reasons to date, going undefeated all season, with the exception of one race. Hough dominated every race, including the Michigan High School Athletic Association Div. I state meet where he won in a time of 14:56, over 20 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. Hough had the momentum going into the Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships where he did not disappoint, finishing 5th in the fastest boys cross country race to date running 14:10 and narrowly missing breaking the former national record. Hough bounced back the next week by winning the Eastbay (formerly Foot Locker) Cross Country Championships in a time of 15:11.

What makes Hough’s season so spectacular is that he was on an island a majority of the season when it came to practice and racing. To clarify, he still had his coaches and teammates helping him along the way, it just means he didn’t have kind of training partners that Newbury Park has with Colin Sahlman, Lex Young, and Leo Young have at Newbury Park. Training partners that can help share the workload in practice or late stages of a race when it really starts to hurt. In fact, it wasn’t until Championship season that Hough had anyone come close to him towards the end of a race.

This leads me to believe that Riley Hough has the most potential of any of the boys in this year’s recruiting class. If he can run the times he did solo, imagine what he could run with teammates running his pace. Keep a lookout for Hough this track season where he will look to continue his success on the oval. As well as next year where he will be staying close to home to compete at Michigan State University. A place where he can continue his success as one of the rising stars of the sport.