Cuero's Hansel doesn't lack heart
May 12, 2010 at 12:12 a.m.
CUERO - Buster Hansel weighs 120 pounds.
At least that's what he told me. You may not believe him if you've watched him run.
The problem is you're looking at his arms and legs. You can't see his heart.
You can't see it, but you observed its strength if you watched the Cuero junior win the 3,200- and 1,600-meter runs on a pair of hot and windy days at the Region IV-3A meet in Corpus Christi to qualify for the UIL Track and Field State Championships.
One spectator at the regional meet compared Hansel to Jim Ryun, the last American to hold the world record in the mile.
Hansel hadn't even heard of Ryun, but shares his passion for running.
"I love to run so it really doesn't matter," Hansel said. "It was just a sport I love to do. I just got into it. It's like second nature to go home and just get ready to run."
Hansel didn't start running long distances competitively until his freshman year.
Hansel remembers his father driving him from school to their home in Thomaston when he got of the car on U.S. Highway 87 and ran the final three miles.
"You never know how you're going to do until you start racing," Hansel said. "You don't know how you're going to feel until you get a mile into a race or 800 into the race, if your legs are going to cooperate with you or not."
Hansel joined the cross country team and decided to try out for the track and field team, which raised more than a few eyebrows.
"Here was this little, bitty skinny kid," said Cuero coach Victor Mathis. "I'm like, he ain't going to make it. He'll be out there maybe a week. But he has lots of heart. Lots and lots of heart. That's what so amazing about him. He works his butt off. He doesn't complain. He just goes out and does what he needs to do."
Hansel showed signs of what was to come during his freshman and sophomore seasons and has become a more analytical runner with experience.
"You've just got to be patient and trust in yourself and believe in yourself that you can do it," Hansel said. "I like to run the first couple of laps in the back of the pack and see how everything is doing. After I see what everybody is doing, I just get impatient and just go for it and run them off their own legs."
Hansel runs between 30 minutes and an hour every day and has learned how to overcome the physical discomfort and mental challenges long distance runners encounter.
"I remember one of those days where I was 3 miles away from the house and it was just like my body broke down and I didn't feel like running anymore," Hansel said. "But I just kept going and I thought of something different and it kind of went away. It still hurt a lot but it got easier. When something like that happens, I just concentrate on something else or look at the cows or something."
Hansel used last year's regional meet as motivation for making the state meet this season.
"It kind of hurt him last year when he got third in the 2 mile and fourth in the mile and he was really upset," Mathis said. "He put in the effort and hard work to do better.
"I kind of use him as an example to the other kids," Mathis added. "If you want something bad enough, anything is possible through hard work and determination. He may not be the most talented athlete. But he's the most dedicated and hard-working athlete. Those are the ones who usually accomplish their goals."
Hansel has goals for the state meet at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin. He is seeded sixth in Friday's 3,200-meter run and second in Saturday's 1,600-meter run.
"I've trained hard enough to compete with anybody on the track," Hansel said. "I've been getting myself mentally focused. I try not to let the other times get in the way. I'm second to last or third to last in the two mile but that really doesn't mean anything because every race is different."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.