LAKE TWP.  Last year, Nathan Moore won the Federal League cross country championship. This year, he repeated the feat.

The only difference?

Last year’s title was the eighth grade league title and this year, Moore topped the varsity race as a freshman, out dueling a field of older runners to top the podium. Winning the league title as a freshman is rare in any sport, but the Lake freshman believed going into the meet that he had what it took to place first.

"I was just really trusting in my training I’ve done and doing the same thing I’ve done this whole season," Moore said. "I knew I couldn’t be distracted and I’ve felt since the first or second meet of the year that I could do it."

Moore has been running cross country since middle school, but the road to his winning time of 16:07.8 at the league meet started much earlier. His father, Hudson Moore, is a veteran runner who has competed in marathons on six continents and run most of the major American marathons.

With his father setting the pace, Moore started running in elementary school. By the time he was in second grade, he had already gotten into the sport and since then, he’s been building toward a successful varsity running career.

Still, even with his experience and middle school success, it took a bit of time for his Lake teammates to welcome him as a part of the varsity roster. Like any newcomer to the team, he had to earn his place, but producing solid results from the outset of the season helped.

Still, going from the best runner in the middle school race to the best runner in the varsity race in the span of a year is a longer distance than just the three-plus miles of your average high school cross country race.

"It’s just an incredible feeling coming back after I won in eighth grade, coming back and doing it again," Moore said.

His race strategy was to not wait until the final mile to make his move, knowing that he didn’t want to try to outkick the strong Jackson contingent and the other top runners in the race with the finish line in sight. Instead, he tried to make his move earlier, giving himself a lead and forcing the rest of the field to try to catch him down the stretch.

As he made the move, he thought back to the pre-race advice he’d gotten to simply keep moving his legs and not stopping when his body started to hurt.

"With one mile to go I was trying to outkick them, to go out ahead and I was able to lose them," Moore said. "It was a hot day and when people look out ahead on the course, it’s hard to think of catching up when you’re behind."

If anyone thought the win was a fluke - and given Moore’s regular season, there likely weren’t many - he certified it by winning the district title one week later against all of his Federal League rivals and runners from several other schools at the district meet at GlenOak High School.

It was another entry on what is fast becoming an impressive resume for a runner who has three more years to build on it. Still, Moore’s present focus is on the tail end of a freshman season that’s going places few first-year high school runners go, with a goal of reaching the state meet and making a mark there just as he has in Stark County.

Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
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