Hornberger leaves a legacy as he begins the end of his high school running career at Lake Shore
Thursday May 8, 2014 | By:Marquel Slaughter | Sports
It has been a long and sweet high school running career for TJ Hornberger.
The owner of plenty of records and a college scholarshåip waiting for him in the fall, the senior enters his final outdoor track season at Lake Shore already with a legacy behind him.
A limp Hornberger looked back to his younger middle school self one evening in April. The Eagle stood on the track where his records may stand for a while, recalling what running has done for him outside of the gates that surrounded the track.
“Running has shaped my personality,” said Hornberger, who is headed to Syracuse University to continue with cross country and track. “It made me a harder worker and it helped me focus more.”
Hornberger joined the modified track team in seventh grade before beginning what would become an historic stint racing on the varsity level as an eighth grader. He still cannot believe how far he has come since then.
“I just think about how much I’ve progressed,” he continued. “Looking back, I never thought that I would get this fast. I’m just glad that I kept on, kept working and have great coaches that helped me through it and get better.”
Lake Shore head coach Chuck Kowalski has been there for Hornberger’s entire tenure.
“There’s no doubt that you can see it right from the beginning,” said the 12 year coach. “He just had the talent. He was faster than every kid in his grade all the time.”
Kowalski suggests that while Hornberger was naturally gifted, what made him one of the elite runners in the country is his drive to always try to get better.
“His work ethic just puts him over the top,” Kowalski noted. “He’s one of those rare athletes that is good, but he works at it to be even better. That’s always nice to have and fun to coach.”
Hornberger has competed in a total of 10 state meets between his careers in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field.
He is also the owner of six outdoor records: the Section VI two-mile record, Lake Shore’s two-mile, one-mile, 800-meter, sprint medley and relay medley records.
There is one more trip to states, one final school mark and one last Section VI record in his future, if he can shake off his current injury that will keep him sidelined for the first few weeks of the season.
“There are a few more records I want to get. We’ll see what I can do with this injury,” said Hornberger, who is close to the section’s mile mark and the school’s 400-meter. “I don’t know how long it will take to get ready, but as long as I’m fine for Syracuse is all that matters.”
The men’s cross country team at Syracuse have won two consecutive conference championships and finished tenth at NCAA’s last fall.
“What I probably like the most is their goals and they way that they have been improving,” said Hornberger, who will be rooming with his best friend, Mickey Burke of Rush-Henrietta (Section V).
“Their runners are getting up in the national level. And it’s just the way they take each runner and help them improve,” he continued. “I feel like when I went there to visit that I would improve the most at that college.”
So, what is left for the most accomplished runner the school has ever seen?
“Leaving his legacy with the other athletes and teaching all the young kids what it’s like to work hard and what you can accomplish if you work hard,” Kowalski noted. “He’s just a good person, too. And they’re seeing that you can be a good person, get good grades and you can be a good athlete.
“And, of course, it’s always nice to have some records,” Kowalski added.
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