National champion now. Summer Olympics next?

Cole Hocker ’19 sets his sights on competing in Japan


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Cole Hocker ‘19 shows off the indoor men’s track and field national championship trophy. Hocker now turns his attention to the Summer Olympics.

Jake Langdon, Reporter/Videographer

After his Oregon team wins the national title, Cole Hocker ‘19 sets his sights on participating in this summer’s Olympics. 

The legend of Cole Hocker ‘19 continued on a recent Saturday afternoon in Fayetteville, Arkansas, as Oregon competed for the NCAA indoor track and field national championship.

Hocker, a sophomore at Oregon, captured both the 1600 meters and 3K national titles, setting a meet record in the 1600 meters in the process. He out-kicked teammate, senior Cooper Teare, in the final 100 meters by .08 second to claim the 3K title. Oregon won handily, scoring the second most points by an indoor champion in NCAA history. 

If that’s not impressive enough, Hocker is only 19 years old. 

Hocker even surprised himself with the win saying, “Heading into the 3K after winning the mile my goal was to just hang in, see how I felt with 1K to go and then kick as hard as I could. I had never ran a double at that high of a level, so I was unsure how I would feel, but I was able to keep my composure through the last lap and kick hard. 

“I was a little in shock after just barely out leaning one of the nation’s best talent and my teammate, Cooper Teare. It was hard to understand the magnitude of what I accomplished in the moment, but the feeling was amazing.”

During his four years on the Hill, Hocker broke about every record possible, winning at both the state and national levels. Winning State in cross-country, as well as the 800 meters and 1,600 meters as a senior. He also claimed the 2018 Foot Locker national championship for cross-country and won the distance medley relay with his Cathedral teammates at the New Balance Nationals.

It was hard to understand the magnitude of what I accomplished in the moment, but the feeling was amazing.””

— Cole Hocker '19

His focus is now shifting toward earning a spot on the 2021 Olympic team. Hocker said, “The goal for this 2021 outdoor season is to achieve that Olympic standard in the 1500 and 5K. This would put me in the position to attempt to qualify for an Olympic team in June. NCAA nationals is the first priority, as I hope to win an outdoor title in the 1,500. Then in June I’ll probably focus on 1,500 in the Olympic trials.”

According to the IAAF, the Olympic qualifying standard for the 1500 meters is 3:35, while his current personal record is 3:35.46, which was recorded en route to his mile during the indoor finals. For the 5K, Hocker’s personal record is 13:32.92, while the qualifying standard for the Olympics is 13:13.5. 

Hocker will likely run in the USA Olympic trials that will take place June 18 to June 27 at Hayward Field, his home stadium at the University of Oregon for a chance to join the roster that will travel to Tokyo come July.

Hocker mentioned his experience at Oregon, saying, “My coach, Ben Thomas, has prepared me great for every race I’ve toed the line. The current Oregon team is one of a kind. I’m surrounded by people who are looking to run professionally after Oregon and there’s a handful looking to make a legitimate shot at an Olympic team for their country. There’s no other school in the nation that can offer that high caliber of training partners.”

Hocker attributed the ease of his transition from high school to college to his high school coaches as he said, “ (Coach Jim) Nohl, Jason (Moyars) and my dad, as my coaches at Cathedral, handled the training from a perspective that was in the best interest of my running career. Instead of rushing into every big meet to try and run record breaking times, they were level headed on which ones were worth doing. Keeping training low mileage was also in my best interest for a sustaining running career while remaining injury free.”

He also noted his teammates at Cathedral, saying, “Training with RJ (O’Neil), Nick (Hruskoci) and Ryan (Pehlman) made training at Cathedral so much easier. Being surrounded by guys with the same interest in running D1 helps everyone improve.” 

Currently, RJ O’Neil ’19 runs at Indiana University, Nick Hruskoci ’20 competes at Wisconsin and Ryan Pehlman ’19 runs at Cincinnati. 

Hocker said he felt the school played a major role in his preparation off the field as well. He said, “Cathedral prepared me for Oregon in multiple ways. I was ready in terms of running but also on the academic side of things. General education classes are fairly similar, if not easier, than what I did at Cathedral and that was a big relief when I got here.”

Moyars, head coach of the men’s cross country team and long distance track team, and former Head Coach Mr. Jim Nohl ‘78 both played critical roles in Hocker’s development. Moyars said, “I think the biggest thing was Cole was never injured as a high school athlete. I don’t even think he ever tweaked a muscle. We did lots of recovery, we did a post-recovery supplement and we also brought chocolate milk and cookies right after they were done running and stretching just to get a little sugar and protein back in their bodies.

Moyars also said, “We never pushed Cole to the max. We probably kept him at around 95 to 96% of what we thought he could do. Of course, we never really ran him more than three events for track in a meet. He took it easy on the easy days. He listened to us really well. He never really pushed himself as hard as I think he could have.”

Cole’s father, Mr. Kyle Hocker, serves as an assistant coach of the men’s cross-country team and long distance track team as well. Hocker remarked on the competitive nature of Cole, saying, “From the time he was a little kid, and this is something you recognize in young athletes, that if they’re sore losers you don’t want to tap that down. He was the same type of kid that would go cry in his room after the Pacers lost because he was so into that, the intensity of that competition.”

Hocker mentioned the potential of his son, saying, “By the time he was 9 years old, he had won a national meet in Kentucky, so we knew he could compete with kids from across the country. It wasn’t until he got here to Cathedral, though, that he really started to develop.” 

In that 2010 cross-country Nationals meet, Cole won the 9-year-old division by 32 seconds. 

The elder Hocker also mentioned, “We trained systematically so nothing was left to chance. Coach Jason and Nohl had taken a program I had been working with for a few years and they took it and developed it even further and really nailed it down as a system that’s locked in before the season even starts. So we really don’t even leave our training up to chance. The system was a big part of our success here at Cathedral.”

Mr. Hocker said the system he proposed was brought to him at his time coaching at the Horizon Christian School. He said, “I was coaching elementary school kids and high school kids and we were looking for a system. One of the dads brought a system into the program, and he had a basic understanding of it. I dove into it a little more and found it was an Olympic coach that had presented that system. Once I saw there was a way to get systematically faster, I became really really interested in that.”

Hocker brought the system to Cathedral with Cole and proposed it to Nohl and Moyars. He said said, “(The program had) a system of improvement where the body will always adapt to unaccustomed stresses as long as the stress is not too much. So it could incrementally improve a young runner without getting him hurt. So I introduced it here and Coach Moyars and Coach Nohl ran with it at that point.”

Moyars expected this Olympic trials to be more about gaining experience. He said, “We kind of put in his ear at that point to use it as an experience, not necessarily trying to qualify for the Olympic team because then in three years then you’ll have the experience. But as he’s progressed this year, I can truly see him making the Olympic team.”

As Hocker continues his historic season, the Olympic trials loom large, but Hocker has proven time and again that he has yet to have tapped out his potential.