“It really meant a lot to me to see the entire school here, helping me celebrate,” said Lakota East junior Dustin Horter following a ticker tape parade down the school’s Main Street. With piles of confetti raining down on him to the cheers of his fellow students, the whole event was almost overwhelming.
“I’m just so grateful to everyone who supported me throughout the season,” said the state boys cross country champion. “I knew they had my back and were encouraging me the entire time.”
Horter was crowned the Division I state champion Nov. 5 following the 5,000-meter race at National Trail Raceway. “We started out hard and it wasn’t going the way I would have preferred,” explained Horter. “But I stayed persistent and just kept going.”
The last 400 meters made the difference as that’s when Horter was able to overtake Olentangy Orange senior Hunter Moore after he stumbled. “It was a mixture of joy and concern for Hunter as I crossed the line,” admitted Horter.
“Dustin is a true athlete, someone who loves the competition and especially in bettering himself,” stated Rich Bryant, Lakota East assistant principal and athletic director. “He’s an inspiration to others because he really pushes himself and strives to improve. And he is a great representative of the competitive spirit, since he always stays after he’s done to shake hands and congratulate the other competitors."
“I like to show my respect to the other runners,” states Horter. “I know how hard they’re working and they deserve to be congratulated for what they are accomplishing.”
During Wednesday’s parade, all eyes were on Horter as the school celebrated his big win. “I really enjoyed this morning and I’m going to use it as my motivation to keep pushing myself,” states the junior in defending his title next year. “I know there will be a target on my back, but, God willing, I’ll be able to again do my best.”