Margo Hornocker C-T Spring Athlete Of The Year

Posted on June 25, 2017 in Girl's Track, Spring Sports

Junior Margo Hornocker (far left) runs in the state championship.

Junior Margo Hornocker (far left) runs in the state championship.


Each year, some of the top distance runners in Indiana are invited to Franklin Central for the “Miracle Mile”, and Grant County had three representatives in the April race.
Mississinewa’s Brennan Butche, who finished 15th in the IHSAA cross country state finals last fall, and Oak Hill’s Mollie Gamble parlayed their experiences in the “Miracle Mile” to set multiple school records on the track.
Then there was Margo Hornocker.
The Oak Hill junior ran the 1,600-meter race in 5 minutes, 9 seconds and establish a new girls’ school and county record. The race would become the launching pad for an outstanding spring that culminated with a fourth-place finish at the IHSAA state outdoor finals and the Chronicle-Tribune’s top spring athlete honor.
When her season was done, Hornocker shaved another nine seconds off her 1,600 time – turning in a 5:00.3 in the regional meet – and also set new school standards in the 800 (2:20.4) and 3,200 (11:27.6). She now holds school records in all four distance events which includes 4×800 relay.
“That was the first really hard mile I ran, and I got to see where I was at and got to run against a lot of girls I would be running against at state,” Hornocker said Friday. “That was like a good preview for state and seeing where I was at compared to all the other girls in the state.”
Hornocker had the highest ever finish for an Oak Hill boys’ or girls’ athlete in a state finals running event. Janae Moffitt, now at Purdue University, was a two-time state high jump champion in 2013 and ‘15.
Eagles coach Paige Brunner said the “Miracle Mile” gave Hornocker the confidence to know she could compete with the state’s elite distance runners. Hornocker had qualified for the girls’ cross country state finals last fall and finished a disappointing 64th place.
“The ‘Miracle Mile’ we took her to early in the track season, if we don’t go down there and she doesn’t run the way she did, then she doesn’t have the end of the year that she did,” Brunner said. “That was her coming out party where she realized she could run with those girls, and after it she was confident not only that she could run with those girls but that she can beat them.”
Hornocker said she used the motivation over her cross country performance to train even harder for the track season. She worked with weights for the first time to increase her upper body strength and noticed the improvement almost from the very first meet.
“I didn’t have much upper body strength before,” she said. “A lot of people don’t associate weights with running because a lot of runners are so skinny, but you don’t realize how much upper body strength and a strong core plays into running.
“I did a lot of (abdominal) workouts and that really helps just to be able to have more strength in the longer races,” she added. “At the very beginning of the year I was running times it took all last year to reach, and I was running at a faster pace than I was in cross country and felt stronger and better.”
The 6-foot Hornocker has a lean runner’s build and naturally long legs to do with it, and Brunner said the weight training accentuated her physical attributes.
“Besides her length, she’s got a great stride with the length of her legs,” Brunner said. “It was a matter of her taking those tools and in a way to getting a stronger core and allowing her body to physically mature so she can handle more mileage both in cross country and track.”
Hornocker gave up basketball and fully committed to training for track, and it was evident she made the right decision based on her success at the state indoor meet in March. She placed fifth in the 3,200 and led the distance medley relay to a sixth and was a first-team all-state medalist in both events.
“She didn’t have the state meet that she deserved to have in cross country, and we sat down and figured out the next step from just being a state level athlete to competing at a much higher level,” Brunner said. “We looked at some of the girls that were there on a regular basis winning state meets and competing for medals, and then fine-tuned her overall skill set and making her physically stronger and mentally tough.
“All those things add up to her having a very special season, and we’re fortunate that she’s not a senior yet because she has an opportunity to expand her skills,” Brunner added. “I’m very excited to see where she can take the next step in cross country.”
Interestingly, while Hornocker was sectional champion in two events at Indiana Wesleyan University, neither came in the 1,600 where she was runner-up in both the sectional and regional. But she was closing fast in the regional with a strong finishing kick and was less than two seconds behind race winner Josey Kort of Angola.
More important, Hornocker had hit the five-minute barrier that only the best runners reach and exceed. At state, she was just a tick or two off her regional time with a 5:00.54 and was four seconds behind winner Emma Wilson of Greencastle at the finish.
It has been well documented that Hornocker was boxed in at the start of the race picked her way through the pack to run as high as third place before losing the spot at the wire. She had almost the exact same thing occur at the “Miracle Mile” and had plenty in reserve for the finish.
“I was almost in last place the whole first 200 and I got really boxed in and a big pack was in front of me,” Hornocker said.
“To get around them I would have to go out in lane four and I didn’t want to do that, so I just waited until it started to get spread out a little bit.
“I feel if I had gotten out a little harder and with the time I ran from the outside lane for a lot of the race I could of had a chance (to win),” she added. “I think I had it in me to run the 4:56 that (Wilson) ran and won.”

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