Margo Hornocker C-T Athlete Of The Year For 2016-17

Junior Margo Hornocker announced at the Miracle Mile Run.

Junior Margo Hornocker announced at the Miracle Mile Run.

BY SCOTT HUNT – shunt@chronicle-tribune.com
Funny how success sometimes can still taste a little bitter with disappointment. That’s kind of been the story in Oak Hill distance runner Margo Hornocker’s consecutive trips to the cross country state championship.
First off, the talent it takes to make it to any state championship is unquestionable, and Hornocker has plenty of that. She’s also been driven to work hard to improve and get faster, but found another gear in her drive after 2016 trip to state to run the hills in Terre Haute.
After finishing 64th in the race against the top 208 cross country runners in Indiana, Hornocker wanted more. She wanted better results and went to work to make sure it would happen.
What did happen is Hornocker finished her junior year with one of the best track seasons for a distance runner in Grant County history. And for her successes, Hornocker is the Chronicle-Tribune’s Athlete of the Year for 2016-17.
“It’s great to make it to state but it really takes away from it when you don’t do as well as you want to,” said Hornocker of her cross country experiences. “The first two years I made it, I didn’t run anywhere close to where I wanted to be and even though I improved this year I was really disappointed with how I ran. That definitely helped going into track especially this year because I was tired of not having the outcome I wanted to have.”
So Hornocker and Oak Hill coach Paige Brunner sat down and came up with a training plan. One that would require a lot of trust in Hornocker’s self-motivation to maximize its potential.
She decided not to play basketball and commit hours to the weight room and building strength and logging endless miles on the road or a treadmill during the winter to keep up her cardio.

“She had phenomenal cross country season but we focused on that state meet and that was a disappointing meet,” Brunner said. “It wasn’t what we wanted but it didn’t take away from season she had. We still knew something was missing, there was something separating her from that next upper echelon runner and that was the corner that needed to be turned.”
Mission accomplished for the time being.
Results came early in the indoor state meet, a fifth place finish in the 3,200 meters in a school record of 11:27.6, and a first-team all-state medal. Her 3,200 meter time was the second fastest in county history to Marion’s Laura Bruns.
She earned another medal by being a part of the sixth-place 4×800 relay team at indoor state. Hornocker was already a part of that Oak Hill record set in 2015.
The results kept coming once outdoor season started too.
Hornocker became the first girl in Grant County to run a sub five-minute, 10-second mile, and did it three times. The final time resetting her own mark with 5:00.3 and finishing as the fourth fastest miler at the outdoor state championship.
Hornocker also set the Oak Hill and Grant County standard in the 800 under 2:21.
“We talked about never having a season where she wasn’t at state and wasn’t competitive at state,” Brunner said. “That was the step she wanted to take. It helped her not doing basketball because it allowed her to do an indoor season. She had never broken 12:20 in the two mile and she was running 11:20 and 11:30 from the get go. That immediately boosted her confidence. It said the work she put in took to her to another level.”
Another important step came early in the season when Hornocker received an invite to run in the Miracle Mile, a Showcase event at Franklin Central in Indianapolis against some of Indiana’s top milers.
She ran a career best 5:09 to establish new records and earn a top-five finish. It was also another boost of confidence and set the table for her state finals run.
“That was fun meet for me,” Hornocker said of the Miracle Mile. “I was excited to run against the girls I ran against because outside of the tournament I never get chance to run against girls that fast/ It helped me run a fast time. I was telling myself I have to run fast because I was putting myself in a situation where everyone else is running fast so it was a good opportunity to run a good time. I was hoping I could take advantage of that.”
And take advantage she did.

“If I would have gone the whole season without running that race I wouldn’t have been able to run that fast at other meets doing it by myself,” Hornocker added. “As soon as the race was over – my goal all year was to be five (minutes) or under – when I ran that 5:09, I still felt like I had a little bit more left. That solidified my goal and made me even more excited to get into the tournament.”
Before the tournament she had more business to attend to in and around Grant County and Hornocker was both Central Indiana Conference and Grant Four champion in the 800, 1,600 and 4×800 relay.
Not too bad for a girl who started running in sixth grade just for the social benefits of being on the team.
Brunner has seen talented and driven athletes in his 13-year tenure at Oak Hill, having a two-time state champion high jumper in Janae Moffitt, but he thinks Hornocker has a different quality.

“The thing that’s so special for her – god love Janae and Michael (Moffitt), Cameron Balser, and even Neno Bellinotti – some of those kids we’ve had. Janae being a state champion, she came in with high expectations and she delivered. It’s almost more enjoyable to go through it with Margo because she came from a girl who wasn’t even a No. 1 in junior high and now she has a goal to be a state champion. Knowing the time and sacrifices she’s made, to see her mature physically and mentally, it’s been a very enjoyable year and I’m thrilled I got to be a part of it. Glad we get to do it another year.”
Hornocker likes the taste of success she’s had, remembers the disappointments, and plans to keep moving forward towards the front of whatever pack she is running against.
“I really want to drop a lot of time off my 5K. I thought I ran fast last season looking back at it, but I feel like I can run so much faster than that,” Hornocker said. “Looking at some of the girls in track I beat that run 30 or 40 seconds faster than I do in cross country, that gives motivation. I feel like I can do that.”

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