Salute to Seniors: Benjamin Hartvigsen

Before the class of 2019 makes their final farewells to high school cross country and track and field, we want to give everyone a chance to salute them one more time! FLRunners invites all seniors to tell their stories from the past four years.

Today we salute Sarasota HS senior, Benjamin Hartvigsen

What was your most memorable race/throw/jump/vault/moment?

Hands down the most memorable moment from my high school career was hearing the announcer at cross country states announce that my team had won a state title. Despite having won individual titles, it was the first ever team state championship for the Sarasota High School cross country team and to know that all the hard work me and the guys had put in over the years had finally paid off was truly extraordinary. That feeling is going to be hard to beat.

Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

Both my biggest competition and one of my closest running friends over the year has been Jonathan Reid from Lakewood Ranch. It has been amazing to have a runner as talented and driven as Johnny so present at both the huge state-level meets and the smaller local meets to always push me to be my best. I'm thrilled to be seeing more of him in the Ivy League conference for the next four years.

What was your greatest accomplishment?

As I mentioned earlier, the team cross country title stands as the accomplishment that I am probably most proud of. However, individually I would have to say getting the cross country school record up at Great American was the biggest moment for me. As a freshman, I had always thought of the school records set by the remarkable runners that came before me were untouchable and to be able to turn around and leave my own mark on the record books was a true honor.

Who would you consider your biggest role model over your four years competing? 

Although he wasn't technically around for most of my high school career, my biggest role model throughout high school has definitely been Adam Bradtmueller. When I was a freshman, he seemed like the gold standard for what a cross country runner should be and his astounding two state championship titles only served to reinforce that. Watching Abradt work so hard and find so much success taught me the value of trusting the process and gave me the drive to become the runner I am today.

If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running or field career in high school?

I wish I could go back in time to slap my freshman self in the face and tell him to get it together and stop messing around. I didn't take cross country nearly seriously enough as a freshman and I wish I had made the decision to go out of my way to do those summer cross training days or that extra bit of core sooner. I wonder where I could be now if I had only made those decisions sooner.

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome? How did you overcome them?

That lack of dedication during my freshman year was also probably my greatest obstacle because it meant that I had a lot of work to make up during my freshman track season and especially my sophomore cross country season. While this may have been an obstacle, I think that overcoming it actually made me stronger because it instilled the work ethic that I have needed to be successful ever since. It also forced me to make the decision as to whether I was going to go all in on this crazy sport or just be content with mediocrity once and for all.

What will you miss the most?

It will be obvious to anyone that knows me that the thing I am going to miss the most is the team. That crazy group of coaches, boys, and girls has been so transformative to me and I would not be the same person today without them. They have truly become my very best friends and leaving them behind is one of the very toughest parts of graduating but I know that they will continue to thrive without me. Love you guys.

What advice would you give to younger athletes?

TRUST THE PROCESS. I know that its tempting to either give up or start to push too hard when you're not seeing the results you want but this sport takes an incredible amount of patience and dedication. If you're putting in the work, I promise you it will pay off it just might take some time. You never know where hard-work and trusting in your coach will take you. 

What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?

I cannot overstate how big an impact my coaches have had on me both athletically and personally. Coach Sera fostered my athletic development from day one and has always made sure that I have everything I need to be successful. Coach King always made running a blast (especially overnights), always made sure I knew that I could achieve whatever I put my mind to, kept me healthy with his medical expertise, and showed me that you can balance an extremely successful career with a love for running. And finally, Coach Stevenson truly made me the runner I am today with his expertise, encouragement, and clear devotion to making sure that I was the best that I can be. Additionally, the work ethic and his chemical engineering major have had no small impact on making me consider chemical engineering (and maybe even coaching) as a future career field. I cannot thank you (and Coaches Em and Sweiderk) enough for the many sacrifices I know you have made for me and my teammates. Keep doing what you do and sharing your love for running with new runners for years to come. I'm going to miss ya.

What are your post-high school or college plans?

I will attend Harvard University in the fall and I am currently considering concentrating in the field of chemical engineering, but I plan to take full advantage of the liberal arts curriculum to see if I find something that interests me more. After that... I don't really know. I would love to get into coaching or professional running but a lot can change in four years and there are a lot of 'ifs' for either of those to happen. I'm just going to keep plowing forward, ready for whatever curveballs life ends up throwing me. 

Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?

I would like to thank my family for always being so supportive and encouraging me to chase my dreams. I know there have been times that you haven't wanted to drive for hours on end just to watch me run for a few minutes before returning home. Your endless dedication to my success has been so hugely important for me and have helped me get through the times where I have doubted myself and even my decision to do this sport. Thank you for everything. You mean the world to me. 

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

This community is truly something special. The guys and girls that make up the world of running are unlike people from any other sport and I have been directly inspired by so many of these people. I am so glad that I chose this sport and can't imagine life without it now. To the many friends I have made over the years, every one of you has had an impact on you and I thank you for your words of kindness on the sidelines and fierce competition on the track. I'll still be watching for all of you next year. 

P.S. Watch out for Will Hartvigsen. The kid is about to blow my career out of the water.

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