Hunter Krasa, a Mountain Ridge High School senior

Hunter Krasa, a Mountain Ridge High School senior, ran to a third-place finish at the state competition.

Hunter Krasa had an interview to do, a car that needed gas and a suitcase that still needed to be packed. But, first, a run. Before he packed and left for a Foot Locker invitational race in California, he needed to get a run in.

Such is customary for Krasa, the senior cross country runner at Mountain Ridge High School, whose six-day-a-week training regimen lifted him to a third-place finish in the 5-kilometer race at the 2019 Division I Cross Country State Championships.

Krasa, who lives in Glendale, finished with a time of 15:41.9. He helped the Mountain Lions take a fifth-place team finish.

A year ago, Krasa departed the 2018 Division I Arizona Interscholastic Association Cross Country State Championships feeling regretful, annoyed even. As a junior, Krasa finished in eighth-place for the boys’ 5-kilometer race.

He felt he could have soared near the top of the leaderboard had he taken training more seriously in the months leading up to the tournament.  And he vowed not to repeat the same mistakes for his senior season.

“My summer was a lot more consistent this year than it was last year,” Krasa said. “I did way more workouts [this year.]”

The Mountain Ridge senior quickly benefited from it with his showing at this year’s state event.

To leapfrog the five spots he did at state in the span of one year – going from eighth to third – Krasa began a revamped training regimen in May. He was running five days a week, then amped it up to six days in June.

He entered the state tournament ranked second in the division. The only runner ranked higher would eventually win the Division I state championship. 

“I was definitely happy with my finish,” he said. “Going into my senior year and being able to have that feeling of, ‘I had a good race, I was able to finish strong,’ that was a good feeling to have.”

Krasa, who was raised by parents who also run, said he’s evolved into a more tactical runner as he’s gotten older. He’s taken more responsibility for his races and has become more in tune with what works and what doesn’t.

“I’ve definitely taken a lot more responsibility over my training and my race preparation,” he said. “It’s not anybody else’s responsibility to train me properly or coach me this way. I’ve been much more tactical of how to approach races and how to approach training myself.”

Krasa is putting the finishing touches on a terrific four-year career at Mountain Ridge. He was invited to compete in the 2019 Foot Locker Cross Country Championships, held in Walnut, California, last week.

The invitation was on Krasa’s bucket list of things he wanted to complete before graduating. Another on the list: signing the dotted line and committing to a college to continue his cross country career. He said he’s being “actively recruited” by a handful of schools, but remains uncommitted.

Krasa is soothed by running. It is a chore to most, but it is a getaway for him, a nice escape from whatever consumes the mind of a high school senior.

“There’s a really nice sense of freedom when you are able to go out,” he said. Most of my training is a lot of recalibrating from the workouts I’m doing, so it’s like a 45, 50-minute run where I’m going out and having a really free experience where I can go out and not have to worry about anything.”