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Centennial standout Hartle puts team goal first

For Nick Hartle, it’s time to take one for the team.

Hartle has plenty of individual goals for this track and field season, but he’s putting those hopes on the back burner as he looks to lead Centennial’s boys to a team title.

“Although I would love to win individual events, I think a team title would be so much more rewarding,” said Hartle, a junior. “Our seniors have worked so hard, and I feel they deserve that ring.”

Last year, Hartle ran four events at state, placing third in the 3,200-meter run and fifth in the 1,600 and running on two relay teams. Centennial’s 1,600 relay team finished fifth and its 3,200 team first, setting a state record time of 7 minutes, 53.94 seconds.

But it was McQueen that took home the team title with 65 points. Centennial finished fourth with 45.

Since last spring, Hartle has turned it up several notches. In July, he completed the distance triple at the USATF Junior Olympics in Sacramento, Calif., winning the 3,000, the 1,500 and the 800 in the intermediate boys division.

Hartle led the Bulldogs’ cross country team to the Class 4A team title and claimed the individual crown in the fall.

In December, Hartle went to Portland, Ore., for Nike Cross Nationals, having qualified as one of five individuals at the Southwest Regional meet in Phoenix.

“The growth I see (in Hartle) from last year to this year so far is the confidence in his ability to compete on a national level,” Centennial coach Roy Sessions said. ”His wins at the Junior Olympics in the 800, 1,500 and 3,000 with national-caliber times has shown him how hard work pays off.”

No one knows Hartle’s potential better than Sessions.

“I have been Nick’s coach since the first day he started running; we have a very special relationship, and if that’s what would make him ‘my guy,’ then he is,” Sessions said. “The main things he brings to the table are his leadership and work ethic. Those are the two things I think helped him in leading the cross country team to the title, and it appears he is bringing that same attitude to the track.”

Hartle plans to concentrate on the 800 and the 1,600, and he has some lofty goals in mind, including going after a record that has stood for 30 years and a sub-4:10 time in the 1,600.

“Nick is really focused on a few records that have stood for a while and would like to really go after them, but his No. 1 goal is to help lead this team to a state title and a top-10 ranking nationally,” Sessions said. “If that means sacrificing some individual awards, he has stated he would be willing to do just that.”

One of those records is the Southern Zone (now region) record for the 1,600 of 4:15.9, set by by Eldorado’s Andre Woods in 1981. At state the next year, Woods established the current state record of 4:13.8.

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