Middaugh to be honored at 2022 Colorado Running Hall of Fame banquet
Battle Mountain athlete is one of six seniors in state to be invited for Colorado High School Achievement Award
One of the all-time best local prep endurance athletes is about to be recognized as one of the greatest in the entire state of Colorado.
Battle Mountain senior Sullivan Middaugh, who ran 15:26 to place 21st at the Nike Cross Regional meet this fall and owns the school’s cross-country 5-kilometer record, has been invited to the Colorado Running Hall of Fame banquet on April 12.
“I was pretty shocked,” he said about the nomination. “I’m just super honored and excited.”
Since 2010, the Colorado Running Hall of Fame (CRHOF) has awarded select prep distance runners with the Colorado High School Achievement Award.
It honors a “handful of deserving high school distance runners who represent their sport, school, community, and our state in a distinguished way,” wrote Lisa Mills, CRHOF High School Division liaison, in an email.
“They have elevated Colorado distance running by their exceptional work ethic, dedication to excellence, and commitment to both individual and team success.”
Middaugh’s resume and character fit the bill.
“The things that make Sullivan special are his “team first” approach, being genuinely more excited for his teammates’ accomplishments more than his own, and his tireless preparation,” stated Battle Mountain track and cross-country coach Rob Parish.
Parish noted that even though Middaugh is talented and works hard, it’s his penchant for “taking luck out of the equation by doing all the little things at 100%,” like stretching, nutrition, strength and injury prevention and recovery. His parents concur.
“His high school career happened to be during a very tough time for high schoolers in general which meant some missed opportunities, but the one consistent theme for him has been his dedication to the process of training,” Ingrid and Josiah shared in a joint email.
What they admire most in their son is his excitement and eagerness to compete. “Since a young age, he has been drawn to competition and pushing his limits in a very carefree and joyful way and I hope he never loses sight of that,” they stated.
Middaugh’s desire all along was to shepherd the young flock at Battle Mountain in continuing the school’s rich running tradition.
“I think the Battle Mountain culture is really awesome. I wanted to carry on a lot of the traditions that I experienced as a freshmen and sophomore,” he said about what he hopes his legacy will be. “Our team is pretty young so I think just showing them what it was like for me — what warming up is like, what racing is like, race strategies, stuff like that. Just the running experience.”
According to his coach, he will be remembered for his optimism in leading the boys team back to national prominence. “His work ethic and positive attitude are infectious,” Parish said.
The “all-around endurance monster,” as the longtime distance savant accurately labels his pupil, has made a mark on the broader mountain bike, Nordic ski and running community in the Vail Valley, too.
“I think that I was always doing other races other than just 5k’s. The trail running national championships and local series and stuff like that. I feel like I took the running culture a little further,” he said.
“You’d be hard pressed to find someone with a wider resume of accomplishments,” noted Parish.
At April’s banquet at the Denver Athletic Club, an award for Colorado’s most outstanding distance runner — based strictly on a record of performance during the evaluation period ending in January — will be given in addition to the Achievement Awards.
Middaugh’s next move will be to head to Arizona State University as an athlete in their Project Podium initiative.
Together with USA Triathlon, Project Podium is an elite development program based at ASU in Tempe designed to develop promising college-aged triathletes. Their stated goal is to “achieve medal performances in the Olympic Games.”
Middaugh will consequently bypass the opportunity to compete in the NCAA track and cross-country systems to focus on the multi-sport discipline alongside 8-10 teammates. “We’ll do 2-3 sessions a week — it will be super fun,” he said. “My goal is to slowly move up the ranks.”
He’ll target school records in the 1600 and 3200 this year, which, because of COVID in 2020 and an injury during his 2021 junior season, will essentially be just his second try on the tartan oval. He won’t spend too much time thinking about what “could have been” as he closes the running chapter of his still in-progress long-distance Odyssey.
“I guess I’m a little torn about not running full-time but I think I’ve struggled with injuries in the past and triathlon works really well with mixing in other things other than just running 80 miles a week,” he said thoughtfully. “So, I think it will help my running because I don’t think I’d be able to run high mileage anyways.”
When jokingly asked if Huskies fans will soon forget his name as little brother Porter encroaches on his records, he laughed and said, “Yeah, he’s pretty quick.”
All kidding aside, the rare recognition — 2020 Olympian Elizabeth Constien is the only other Husky to be nominated — is well earned.
“He deserves it for all the reasons above,” stated Parish.