|Standout Runners at Carmel High|
|Monday, 09 April 2012 12:43|
BY CHUCK SLATER
4/9/2012 -- Finding a top-flight distance runner, any high school track coach will tell you, is not an easy task. Get one every few years and you’re doing very well. For small schools, such an occurrence is less frequent.
So how to explain two standout distance runners on Carmel High’s 30-boy track team?
“For our small-school program,” says co-coach Harold Cargain, “it’s amazing.”
Indeed, junior Eric Holt and freshman Benito Munoz are amazing.
Holt, a dogged runner who often leaves his rivals gasping through mid-race pressure, has run a 4:17 mile. He will be a threat in both the 1,500 and 3,200 in the outdoor season which is just now answering the opening gun. His impressive results include a third in the mile at the Millrose Games this winter as well as third in the states and fourth in the 3,200 at the Federation meet. He also earned All-American status with a sixth-place effort in a personal-best 9:07 two-mile at the New Balance Indoor Nationals.
As a measure of his hard work and rapid improvement, that two-mile time is more than 24 seconds better than his p.b. as a sophomore. Holt is also the sectional cross-country champion.
Munoz, just as determined and with the perfect form which has co-head coach Eric Schwark terming him “mechanically the better runner,” took third in the county with a 9:28.6 mile and fifth in the Class A sectional two-mile run with a 9:3l.6 clocking. Those are amazing – there’s that word again – times for a 14-year-old ninth grader.
The two are the keenest of friends and the keenest of rivals. “Neither of them ever wants to lose,” Schwark said.
“We tend to undertrain young athletes,” added Cargain, hoping to protect them from injury and burnout. “But in practice Ben will try to stay up with Eric even though I tell him not to push so hard. “But coach,’ he’ll reply, ‘how am I ever going to beat Eric if I don’t?’”
“He’s a confident kid,” Holt says of his younger teammate and practice companion. “I was real quiet when I started. We try to help each other in the workouts.”
“Eric helps me to achieve things,” Munoz said on the phone from Kentucky, where he was running the hills while visiting family over the past vacation. “He never gives up. He’s an amazing runner.”
The good friends look somewhat alike although the older Holt is a 6-foot, 175-pounder who is heavy for a runner and might be mistaken for a football receiver. Munoz is almost three inches shorter and much lighter at 130 pounds.
“Ben and he are like brothers,” says Kelly Holt, Eric’s mother. “T hey run alike, they look alike. At meets, when I’m cheering for both of them, people ask me if they are brothers. We even have a bed for Ben at our house.”
Holt treats the entire Carmel team almost like brothers. “He always thinks about the team first,” Schwark said. “If they are running too hard, or not hard enough, he’ll let them know. He’s one of our leaders.”
The leader got a late start in his chosen sport. “I started running in the first grade, maybe once a week, but I didn’t care,” Holt said. “I really started running in the eighth grade and my captain, Thomas Fitzpatrick, inspired me. I started doing pushups, taking it seriously. My times came down quickly and I realized ‘running is my talent.’”
Yes, he plans to run in college and he has the academic talent to get a scholarship.
Munoz’s running inspiration was his mother, Kathleen.
“I started cross-country in the 7th grade,” he said. “Playing baseball, I was sometimes just picking dandelions in the outfield. I was hyper. My mom told me to try cross-country. At first it was really hard, but after I got into it, I really enjoyed it.”
By the 8th grade, he was on the Carmel varsity track team.
The co-coaches are both in their 12th year at Carmel and now have a problem in dual meets: in which events, from the 880 to the 3,200, should they run their two distance standouts? Putting them together probably means giving up first-place points in another event.
“Any coach would love to have that problem,” Cargain said.