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Southlake Style

Former Carroll Runner Looks to Compete in USA Outdoor Championships

May 25, 2015 04:07PM ● By Kevin

Back in February, former Carroll Dragon runner Connor Hendrickson, who graduated in 2014, ran a top-10 finish for the Team USA junior men at the APA Pan American Cross Country Cup in Barranquilla, Columbia.

Hendrickson, who attends the University of Texas and runs track and cross country, registered a ninth-place finish in 19:47 and helped Tean USA defeat Canada, according to an article on MySouthlakeNews.

He redshirts the track & field seasons this year while recovering from a shin injury and preparing for a June qualifying event for Team USA. If he performs to standard there, he'll compete again in August in Canada, in hopes of winning the outdoor championship.

We caught up with Hendrickson to talk about his accomplishments so far and goals for the future.

Southlake Style: Talk about your top 10 finish at the APA Pan American Cross Country Cup ... What was that like?

Connor Hendrickson: It was just an incredible opportunity. I’m really thankful. Very excited it all worked out and got to do it. It was an awesome experience to go down. We had four other top juniors - high school and college freshman athletes - running with me as well. 

For the race, it was just an indescribable experience. When I finished, I realized, 'Wow this is an incredible opportunity.' 

It’s kind of funny. The location in Columbia we were at was not by any means a vacation spot you’d pick to travel, but the people who were there - and to have other individuals who surrounded their life by running and were achieved and accomplished runners - we had a great time. Everyone who participated in that event bonded together. We all knew how to have a good time, but we were also very focused and dedicated as to why we were there.

SS: Tell me more about Team USA. 

Hendrickson: I was pretty lucky. I was on the USA Junior Team. Basically anyone who’s born after 1996 for this year. That means a lot of freshman in college aren’t eligible, because they’re too old. I’m born on Jan. 25, so I was one of the oldest competing. It all fell into place and worked out. Anyone can enter into the race. It’s in Boulder, Colorado this year. I flew out there with my mom and family. I met my high school coach up there and we hung out for a while and raced.

As far as future plans go, I’m in the stretch of an injury. I got a stress reaction in my shin. I hit the USA Junior outdoor track qualifying time. This is a track meet held at the end of June. It’s in accordance with the USA outdoor championships. I think the qualifying time was 14:40 and I ran a 14:36 for 5K. Hopefully the plan is to get up there in late-June where I’ll try to qualify for another Pan-Am event in Canada in August.

SS: How’s your first year at school shaping up?

Hendrickson: First semester was a typical freshman year: naive, exciting and fast. The second semester was taking more hours, trying to get on path for major. I’m pursuing a degree in engineering. Classes and workload are catching up to me, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love being in Austin. I have the greatest teammates I’ve ever had. It’s awesome being around the guys wanting to succeed so bad. They push you to be the best and make sure you have a good time doing.

SS: You're redshirting this year. How does that affect your career, and why did you make that decision?

Hendrickson: I ran cross country this year in uniform. I was talking to Coach [Brad] Herbster and the USA cross country race was in early February around the indoor season. The plan was to run the cross country race, and if I qualified, I would redshirt indoor. So I did. 

Then I trained for track and got a stress fracture in my shin. Instead of rushing to get back for the conference meet, I redshirted for outdoor and prepared for juniors to give that a shot. At Texas, I’m a 5K/10K distance person. We also have four graduating seniors running there. There will be a gap to fill in the coming years. 

SS: Do you see yourself as a leader of this team in the future?

Hendrickson: I wouldn’t necessarily say that our team is one that needs one specific individual to step up and take the reigns. Craig Lutz is an All-American and a very good runner. He’s very good at weighing in the options of other seniors and people who have been there before. They do a good job leading us with advice we as freshman need. We have 8 freshmen. I wouldn’t rather have 8 other guys anywhere. We’re all collaborative with the same ideal and same goal. There's not a need for us to have one individual. We’re focused on being a team.

SS: Talk about Carroll and how it prepared you for all of this.

Hendrickson: Southlake is indescribable in so many ways in how it’s prepared me for college. To begin with academics, even at Texas, one of the top published schools in the country, I’m so far ahead of the game with AP credits. I felt very prepared so far. 

Athletically, when I was coming in as a freshman, the Southlake guys team was nothing special. We didn’t qualify in districts. My freshman year and after that, they grasped an ideology, embraced it and took it to the max. We went pedal to the metal for four years. I have no regrets in doing anything. We pushed ourselves to be the best every day. I still see coming back that tradition is still there. They still have that fight and fire. 

I’m very excited to see what they do moving forward. Coach Leonard is a great guy, great coach, incredible mentor. Everyone there, whether they know it or not, is blessed and lucky to be there. It’s truly one of the top programs in the nation and you couldn’t ask for anything more to prepare you for college.