Life in the shadows isn’t all bad, but Sherod Hardt prefers to have a little light shining his way.
This fall, Hardt became the third member of his family to win an individual cross country state championship, joining sisters Whitney (who won three times) and Kari (twice).
“It was cool living in their shadow because a lot of kids looked up and admired what they accomplished,” Hardt said. “It was cool being their little brother, but now I’m not just their little brother. Now I’ve made a name for myself.”
His 4A Division I championship capped a stellar senior year and earned Hardt the Tribune’s Boys Runner of the Year Award.
Hardt had finished second at state as a sophomore and third as a junior, so he was not a new commodity this year. But he took his place among the state’s (and nation’s) best when he ran the second-fastest time (15 minutes, 32.40 seconds) among all classes at the state meet. He then went on to finish sixth at the Nike Cross Country National Championships in Portland, Ore.
“I was really nervous and I just wanted to finish in the top 25,” Hardt said. “I just kept the leaders in my sights and was really surprised to finish as high as I did.”
His effort at the Nike race earned Hardt something other than a sixth-place finish. It earned him bragging rights at home. His finish was better than anything his sisters did at national-caliber races. Whitney never ran at Nike or Footlocker Nationals and Kari’s best finish was 26th at the 2005 Footlocker race.
“Kari had a chance, but she broke her foot during her race (in 2005),” Hardt said. “So I definitely did a lot better than either one of them did at a national meet.”
All-Tribune first team
Name, School, Yr. Comment
Sherod Hardt, Queen Creek, Sr. Capped stellar career with 4A-I state title
Garrett Baker-Slama, Corona del Sol, Sr. Third in 5A-I; led team to runner-up finish
Matt Whitlatch, Corona del Sol, Sr. Came on strong late; 4th in 5A-I
Cory Breinholt, Highland, Jr. Always in the thick of things; placed fifth in 5A-I
Andrew Hagler, Chandler, Sr. Fiesta Region champion; one of state’s best
Tyler Bingham, Mountain View, Sr. Was fourth at Doug Conley; seventh at 5A-I meet
Ben Williams, Mountain View, Sr. Led Toros to 3rd-place team finish at state.
Runner of the year: Sherod Hardt, Sr., Queen Creek
Coach of the year: Teresa Hodge, Corona del Sol. While everyone was expecting Mountain View or Desert Vista to challenge Phoenix Alhambra for the team title, it was Hodge’s Aztecs that roared to a second-place team finish.
All-Tribune second team
Name, School, Yr. Comment
Ben Williams, Mountain View, Sr. Sixth at 5A-I meet; 4th in Central Region
Tyler Bingham, Mountain View, Sr. Seventh at 5A-I meet; 3rd in Central Region
Carlos Roa, McClintock, Sr. Led Chargers to Desert Sky Region title
Brenden Hernandez, Arcadia, Sr. East Sky Region champ
Austin Miles, Cactus Shadows, Sr. Ran to 9th-place finish at 4A-I meet
Matthew Xuereb, Brophy Prep, Sr. Elder statesman of Broncos big three runners
Travis Marshall, Skyline, Sr. Led team to first region title with 1st-place finish
Brophy: Brock Ghelfi, So.; Corona del Sol: Jared Hirschl, Fr.; Desert Mountain: Troy Kellers, Sr., Tyler Schafer, Jr.; Desert Vista: Albert Kombe, Sr., Ben Dykstra, Sr., Tucker Kidd, Sr.; Horizon: Daniel Cocca, Sr.; Marcos De Niza: Johnmark Farlett, Jr.; McClintock: Eduardo Roa, So.; Mesquite: Ryan Monchaca, Sr.; Perry: Patrick Hardwick, So.; Pinnacle: Ryan Williams, Jr.; Queen Creek: Vance Johnson, Sr.; Red Mountain: Russell York, Sr.; Saguaro: Zach Wynn, Jr., Jake Wynn, Fr.; Skyline: Isaac Trujillo, Jr.