By Gary Boskovich
Qualifying for the 36th Annual Foot Locker High School Cross Country Championships takes a lot of sacrifice, dedication, and hard work. Carmel contributed two runners to this event who fall into that category. Carmel junior Ben Veatch and Brebeuf senior Zack Snider, both of Carmel, participated in this year’s Dec. 13 race in San Diego. In the boys race Veatch finished 14th and Snider 23rd.
By finishing in the top 15, Veatch attained All America status, which was a personal triumph.
This national race came only after both boys finished in the top-10 of their regional event. Veatch finished fifth and Snider ninth in the Midwest Regional race at the University of Wisconsin in November. Although winning the regional race is always the goal, qualifying for the nationals is a close second.
When asked if he held anything back in the regional race to just finish in the top-10 Veatch said: “My coach’s philosophy – also my philosophy – is that if you’re going to race you’re going to race your hardest. I gave it my all in that race and got fifth.”
Snider wanted to win the Midwest race as well but shifted strategy mid-race. “I was in 11th place with a quarter mile to go and so I just started pushing it knowing that if I didn’t move up a couple spots I wouldn’t be able to make [nationals], so I was definitely pushing hard,” he said.
Veatch and Snider know each other well. They’ve competed against each other on numerous occasions, starting in the seventh grade. They said they are friends and have a mutual respect for each other. In the Indiana cross country state finals earlier this year Veatch nipped Snider by 7/100ths of a second in a photo finish.
“Obviously I wanted to win, but the only thing that made not winning a little bit more acceptable is that (Veatch) was the one that won,” Snider said. “If I had to lose to anybody, I’m glad it would be him.”
Having two runners from the same city is rare for a national cross country event. But that’s exactly what happened this year with Carmel residents Veatch and Snider. However, those two accounted for half of the participants from Indiana. There were two additional Hoosier runners in San Diego. Seth Williams represented Columbus North and Anna Rhorer Mishawaka High School. Rhorer won the girls event besting her closest competitor by 10 seconds.
Reflecting back on having two runners from Carmel and just four from Indiana, Veatch had this to say: “It was definitely special. We all gave it our all and I think we all represented Indiana well today.”