Before Elias Hubbard enrolled at the Miller School, he was failing classes and not involved in athletics. Now, the senior cross-country runner is one of the hardest working student athletes at his school.
"Elias is out running every morning when I drive in to work,” says Miller cross-country coach Peter Hufnagel. “I arrive about 7:15 and Elias is already suited up, doing laps around campus, doing three, four, five miles before the day even begins."
As a freshman, Hubbard was barely a top-5 runner on JV, but by his second year he became Miller's top cross-country runner.
"It wasn't until, sort of my sophomore year, coming back from training pretty hard in the summer, that I sort of witnessed and realized the joy of experiencing a sense of success, after you know, seeing how work can pay off," Hubbard says of his transformation.
Hufnagel says it’s inspiring for Hubbard’s coaches to see his progress on the course, because they get to see what happens when someone follows the training plan.
"In my eight years of coaching, I've never seen an athlete go from really a bottom of the barrel JV runner, to the team's top runner,” he said. “It was a remarkable turnaround for him, and it just demonstrated what athletics can do for somebody when one is willing to put in the hard work and dedication and effort."
The only problem now is that Hubbard has a tendency to work too hard. “He'll run in the morning, do the standard practice, and then we'll find him sneaking into the weight room to get an extra workout in before a big meet," said Hufnagel.
“My two coaches, Coach Hufnagel and Coach Post, wanted me to sort of back down on that extra training, and sort of focus more on the cross-country aspect of it," Hubbard adds.
Hubbard's toned-down training schedule paid off. As a senior he won the VIC individual title and led Miller to a second consecutive team championship. But the most telling thing about him isn't where he crosses the finish line, it's that he returns to the finish line after he's crossed it to cheer on the other runners who are finishing the race.
"You really have this notion of what other people are going through as they push themselves to their limit, because it's not so much about being the best, it's about doing your best in cross country, and pushing your limits,” he explains.
Hubbard has also learned to push his own limits in the classroom. Before arriving at Miller, he was struggling in school and even failing some classes. Now, he’s an AP student who has dedicated himself in the classroom the same way he has to athletics.
"He realizes that athletics can have a direct impact on his academics, meaning if he works hard and gets a great workout in, he receives a clarity of mind that goes into the classroom," said Hufnagel, who also taught Hubbard in his English class.
“Cross-country has sort of reached into my classroom,” says Hubbard. “Before coming to Miller I hadn't had a really good sense of achieving in the classroom, or even outside of the classroom. Here, I really learned that it can be rewarding to you know, study and have your good work pay off."