by Alex Hislop
For those who don’t know me, my name is Alex Hislop. I have been running Cross Country and Track and Field for Shenendehowa for the past 5 years. Next year, I will run for the University at Buffalo, a Division 1 program in the Mid-American Conference. Throughout the past 5 years my love for the running community and the sport in general has grown immensely, so I am excited by this opportunity to share my high school running experience and my expectations for college.
Upon reflecting on my past 5 years in the high school running program at Shen, I truly feel that I have had the best experience possible. When I started my running career in 8th grade, I was one of the slowest kids on the entire team, I wasn’t even competitive with the kids on the team that were the same age as me. Although I wasn’t winning any championships or running fast times, what brought me to practice was the camaraderie that I had with my teammates and the genuine fun that I had seeing myself improve.
In the next couple of years I eventually rose from one of the slowest 8th graders, to the fastest Freshman, to the fastest one on the whole team. Although I was able to consistently be the number one distance runner for Shen, there were lots and lots of bumps in the road on my way to achieving my Division 1 running dream.
During my Junior year, I experienced an almost 10th month drought of not improving. This period of time was extremely trying and I almost quit the sport altogether, but the thing that kept me going was the support from my teammates. Every single day of practice was enjoyable and I genuinely couldn't imagine not seeing those guys at practice every day.
So, I could push through the hard times and find a new motivation as I started my Senior year. Although I had a poor Junior season, my times from Sophomore year were fast enough to get me recruited by high level Division 1 and 3 schools. I eventually decided that I wanted to spend my next four years at the University at Buffalo. It had everything I wanted, an extremely competitive run team, a physical therapy program, a large and diverse student body, and it was just the right distance away from home.
Signing for Buffalo flanked by dad, Reid, and mom, Kristen
Although I had already completed my main running goal, I still had my entire senior season to go. However, I was not at a loss for motivation as I mentally placed a huge emphasis on improvement. This helped me to form tangible goals such as the times I wanted to hit, championships I wanted to win, and experiences I wanted to have. I shared my goals with my teammates, which helped us create team goals that we wanted to achieve,which gave us a common objective that we all were willing to work hard for. With all of these newfound goals and ambitions I was able to improve over every single distance that I ran my senior year, I was also able to have experiences that I had only dreamed of in prior years. I left my Senior year with a 4:20 mile PR, 9:27 2 Mile PR, 1:57 800m PR, and a 15:13 3 Mile PR. But the most important achievements to me are the objectives we were able to achieve as a Cross Country and Track and Field team.
While I was on the Shen team we won one Section II Cross Country title, four Section II Indoor track titles, a fourth place finish at Cross Country states, and four national qualifying relay teams. But perhaps the most important part of my running career was that I genuinely looked forward to going to practice every single day. No matter how hard the workout was, I was always excited to hangout and work hard with my friends.
I have no idea what to expect next. Many runners experience a huge jump in ability during the transition to college training so I hope I can adjust well and improve. I have only been with the team a couple of times but they seem like the perfect mixture of quirky, funny, and kind (as most young runners are). I’m definitely excited to make new friends and create a good core group of guys that I can have by my side for the next four years, just as I had in high school. I am eager to take on new challenges and opportunities at the next stage of my life. But most importantly, I am excited to wake up every single day to have the opportunity to continue to do the sport I love so much. I hope I will have that chance for many years to come even after I complete my running career in Buffalo. As my Mom, a very good runner herself, always says, running is a lifelong sport!! I am confident and hopeful that this will ring true for me as I take the next step along my journey.
Alex, third right, on his journey…