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Idaho Enterprise

Ezra Hubbard signs with CSI

Ezra Hubbard signs with CSI with family looking on.

For some high school athletes, their entire sports career is dedicated to the goal of competing at the collegiate level and, for a small fraction of them, qualifying for a scholarship.  But for many, the thoughts of continuing on with their sports is never really a consideration until someone says, “I want you to play for me!”  

Cross country and track star Ezra Hubbard falls into the latter group, competing for years simply because he excelled at running and enjoyed the thrill of racing and winning.  Midway through his senior season of cross country, racing at a higher level not only became a possibility, but a reality he hadn’t really planned on when he signed his intentions to race for the Eagles of the College of Southern Idaho.

Hubbard began racing and competing as most athletes do when they sign up for middle school track, with only the elementary field days as an indication that there might be some speed in his legs.  He saw some success as he began in his 6th and 7th grade seasons, but usually came in a close second to the older 8th grade class.  Hubbard’s hopes for winning as an 8th grader were dashed as his 2020 season was canceled due to covid.

Finally racing again as a freshman, Hubbard went into the season with some reservations.  He was starting into a whole new level of racing without having competed for some time all while beginning at a new school as his family chose to commute to Rockland High School.  Hubbard recalled his first cross country race saying, “I had no idea how to run a three mile race.  I didn’t really know how to pace myself or what kind of endurance I had for that long of a race.”

Despite not having the experience to pull from or a plan to execute as he competed, Hubbard placed 22nd out of 75 racers in his first ever competition.  With time and training, he shaved seconds and even minutes off of his time throughout the season.  At his final race of the season, the Cross Country State Championship meet, Hubbard individually placed 7th out of 78 of the state’s best 1A races with a time of 17:08.97 while Rockland placed 5th as a team.

In his sophomore year of cross country, Hubbard set the goal of getting a sub 17 minute finish.  He remembers in one particular race coming out hard and fast, trying to reach his goal in that meet, only to run out of steam with a mile left.  It would take some time, but eventually he did reach that goal to drop his time below 17 minutes, something he would accomplish four times that season.

Impressively Hubbard qualified with the Rockland cross country team to compete at the state level each year of his high school career.  Winning always seemed within reach but accomplished teams like Victory Charter High School would manage to outperform them.  In his senior year, Hubbard and his teammates knew that if they really put in the work and effort, that they could win the
state title.

Race day weather proved to be a challenge of its own as the temps had dropped significantly.  Still determined to win, the boys from Rockland set out with a strong pace to begin the race.  Hubbard came in 4th with a time of 16:34, a little slower than he had been hoping for but still giving him the placing he needed to help his team.  Watching runners cross the finish line, he saw that the points between Rockland and Victory Charter were neck and neck.  As Victory charter was waiting for their 5th runner to still come in, Hubbard saw his own teammates coming down the line to finish out their point earning placings.

Doing their own math, Rockland was nearly certain that they had clenched the victory.  Hearing their team called out as the official winners of the 2024 IHSAA Cross Country State Championship was the greatest way to end Hubbard’s high school career.

Running indoor and outdoor track proved to be just as successful for Hubbard, competing in the 400m, 800m, 4X400m, and the medley relay.  In his junior year, Hubbard took to the medal stand in all of his events, setting a personal record in both the 400m and 800m.  While taking second place at the state level is an incredible finish, it was somewhat of a disappointment for Hubbard who was hoping to take first place in all of his events.  If anything, it has fueled him to push harder as he starts into his senior year.

Not only is he hunting for state titles, but he and his teammates are working towards setting new records.  In multiple events, they are closing in on the standing record time and have a real shot of overtaking it.

With the trajectory Hubbard is on, his future in racing is looking bright, which is why CSI has made it clear they want him on their team.  Earlier in the year, he and his parents toured the campus and met the coaching staff along with other CSI runners.  Impressed by their offer and his experience, he officially signed his commitment on Wednesday, March 6 to compete in cross country, as well as indoor and outdoor track. 

In full honesty, Hubbard isn’t looking forward to more school, but he is excited to see where this will take him.  CSI boasts a strong program with their women’s team winning nationals in 2023 and the men’s team taking second place.  With teammates to really push him and coaches prepared to bring the very best out of him, Hubbard is excited for the progress he will make.  

Hubbard has a lot of supporters to thank that have helped him with this new opportunity- his parents, friends, coaches, teammates and fans.  As he spoke to them before officially signing he shared, “Together we have accomplished a lot, as you can see by all the trophies, plaques and medals here.  But I’ve left space here in the middle for one more- one more state championship trophy!”

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