At times, Craig Lutz may look like a boy among men when competing for Texas. But make no mistake, Lutz runs with ability beyond his years and is now the cornerstone for a rising program.
In his first fall on the Texas men’s cross-country team, Lutz did not shy away from the competition. The freshman enjoyed top-15 finish in Wisconsin, a fourth-place finish and all-conference recognition in the Big 12 Championship, a third-place finish in the South Central Regional Championship on Nov. 12 and finished No. 33 at the NCAA Championships — good enough to make him an All-American, the 20th in school history.
Thanks to head coach John Hayes, Lutz was able to employ a simple approach this season.
“Something really cool about how Coach Hayes approached the season is that my expectations are all on myself for my individual stuff, and the expectations from him are all the team aspect,” Lutz said. “If it’s the best race that I can produce, then it’s what he expects.”
Lutz knows though that he won’t be able to rest on the laurels of a historic freshman season.
“The good thing about college is that there is never going to be a shortage of competition,” Lutz said. “I know there’s never going to be a moment during the four or five years that I am here that the nation isn’t going to be producing 10 or 20 top guys who all could win a national championship.”
At Flower Mound Marcus High School, Lutz was captain of the track and field team for two seasons and was regarded by his peers as the best athlete in the school. Despite the fact that Texas had never won a national championship and hadn’t won a conference title since 1995, Lutz decided to bring his talents to Austin.
“During the recruiting process, I looked pretty much all over the country at a lot of teams with a lot more history, probably better climate, the list goes on,” said Lutz. “But it all came down to the relationship I felt like I had built with Coach Hayes here and the team atmosphere.”
Lutz has helped build on that history though. Before this season, the Longhorns hadn’t been ranked in the top 1- since 2006. Now they’ve wrapped up a season in which they finished 11th in the NCAA Championships.
“The future looks bright,” Hayes said.
Printed on Thursday, December 1, 2011 as: Lutz exceeds expectations with All-American season