Austin’s Hinchcliffe is hoping to build off a state appearance

Published 9:21 pm Monday, August 13, 2018

Henry Hinchcliffe was never a stranger to running. But if it weren’t for his mother’s interest in reading, he may have never competed in the Minnesota Class AA State Cross Country Meet last fall.

Hinchcliffe, who will be a senior on the Packer cross country team this fall, was always interested in running, but it wasn’t until his mom ran into former Austin assistant cross country coach Jen Hilger in a book club that he and fellow classmate Brock Lawhead decided to try running cross country as sixth graders.

“[Brock and I] weren’t really sure if we would do any fall sports, but coach Hilger told us we should do cross country since we like running and track,” Hinchcliffe said. “The last seven years have been awesome and amazing. It’s been really fun.”

Email newsletter signup

Hinchcliffe and Lawhead have grown closer through running together over the years and there are times that Lawhead finds himself acting like Hinchcliffe during cross country season.

“We were good friends [in sixth grade], but our friendship really evolved into something greater than that. We’ve been running together ever since,” Lawhead said. “During cross country season, our mannerisms become the same because we spend so much time running together. It’s been really awesome to grow with each other in running.”

Hinchcliffe hit the peak of his running career last season as he took 64th place in his first appearance at the state meet. He relished that run and he’s been hard at work this summer with hopes of getting back to state this fall.

“It meant the world to me,” Hinchcliffe said of running at the state meet. “It was so much fun going to state, competing there and being with my friends up there. It was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in high school so far.”

Besides pushing himself to success, Hinchcliffe has proved to be the ultimate teammate for the Packers as he’s supportive of all of the other runners. Lawhead said that Hinchcliffe keeps track of everyone’s time and he’s the first one to encourage a fellow runner after a race.

Austin’s Henry Hinchcliffe comes out of the back part of the course into the final leg during the Class AA boys race of the Minnesota State Cross Country Meet. Herald File Photo

“He knows what everyone’s goal is and he’s very encouraging. He’s always trying to make sure that everyone is doing the best they can to run as fast as they can,” Lawhead said. “He has really pushed the boundary of what our team can be and hopefully will be, especially this year. He’s had the team set big goals and we have high hopes and motivation to work harder to reach our end goal for this season.”

Hinchcliffe began to feel he could be a successful runner when he was an eighth grader and he started to run with high school athletes. Since then, he’s been improving every season.

While he tried not to overwork himself, Hinchcliffe spent a good portion of the summer running on his own and training for the upcoming season with the Packers, who will have a team with some experience on its side this fall.

“You need to recover, but at the same time I don’t want to be sitting around the entire summer, or I won’t feel too good,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’m just trying to make myself a better runner so I can help out the team.”

The Packers will open their season with a home invite at 4:30 p.m., Aug. 28 at Meadow Greens Golf Course.