All the miles of competition, of practice, of training and of studying are all paying off right now for Marquette Academy’s Lucas Hoffman.
Hoffman, The Times defending Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year, has opted to continue his athletic and academic careers at North Central College, an NCAA Division III school located in Naperville.
“It helped that they have the same principles that I’ve been going by the past four years here at Marquette: No. 1 is your faith, No. 2 your family, No. 3 your academics and No. 4 your team, the people around you and the sport itself.”— Marquette Academy senior Lucas Hoffman on his decision to attend and run for North Central College
Expected to major in some area of the business/finance field, Hoffman will be joining a national powerhouse in coach Frank Gramarosso’s cross country and track programs at North Central. The Cardinals have been winners of three of the last four and seven of the most recent 11 D-III national championships in cross country and two of the last three national titles in indoor track and field.
Hoffman explained that he had his plethora of choices narrowed down to two colleges, North Central and Loras, both of which had everything he was looking for. However, he took a liking to North Central from the moment he stepped on campus, and it didn’t hurt that it was a lot closer to home.
During his visit, he attended an indoor track meet and met several of the athletes there and felt right at home among them.
“That was a big factor, because they welcomed me and treated me like one of their own right away,” Hoffman said. “I just liked the overall feel of that place from the start, but especially the atmosphere that the team was built around with the coaches and athletes.
“It helped that they have the same principles that I’ve been going by the past four years here at Marquette: No. 1 is your faith, No. 2 your family, No. 3 your academics and No. 4 your team, the people around you and the sport itself. That’s something that I’ve taken away from my time with Coach (Dr. Dan) Cheatham and Coach (Jeff) Cook.”
The Crusaders star will certainly fit in with those quality runners.
So dominant was Hoffman in his senior cross country season that he won 11 of the 13 races in which he competed, and during the regular season had just one runner finish ahead of him in a race. He eventually won the St. Bede 1A Regional and placed fourth at the Seneca Sectional.
He had won the Seneca Regional as a sophomore and was ninth at the Oregon Sectional. He’s a threat this spring track season to qualify for state in at least two events, the 400 and the 3200, plus maybe a relay or two.
“We were talking about state track recently,” said Cheatham, who stepped down as the XC coach after Hoffman’s freshman year but remained a mentor, “and I told Lucas that he’s as good as any runner I’ve ever coached, that there’s no reason he shouldn’t qualify for state, to just keep doing what he’s doing. He’s set a goal, one that’s high enough that it’s tough to get to, and to listen to his coach. That’s why he’s also one of the easiest athletes to coach.”
In between those two sports, Hoffman managed to claim a spot on The Times Boys Basketball All-Area First Team. That kind of work ethic and dedication to his craft has made him a shining example for all his fellow Crusaders.
“In his junior year of cross country, my first year with cross country, Lucas was training so hard I had to tell him to back off a little and remember to have some fun, too,” said Cook. “He already knows what he needs to do and I can depend on him to lead the rest of the team by example. ...
“After our first meet, I went to tell the team who our captain was – he already knew, that was a no-brainer – but when I told them, he wasn’t there. He was already off doing his cooldowns. I told the team that’s why he’s the captain.”
Through it all, Hoffman has remained humble and appreciative to those who’ve helped with this chance.
“I wouldn’t have had this opportunity if not for Marquette,” Hoffman said. “It has prepared me very well, so well academically and athletically. I’d really like to thank everyone that’s helped me along the way, everyone that’s made me a better person and a better athlete. I’ll always be grateful.”