Friday, October 25, 2013

Photo ID: Don Hurley

Don Hurley then...Photo by Jim Ferstle

One of the reasons to do the Photo ID feature is to impart some knowledge, a little history.  Give more information on people and/or events from the past. So, we'll also try and follow up the Photo ID's with a story, more info on who, what, and why this person or event shown in the photos are worth revisiting. We began with this photo of then high school champion, Don Hurley.

Hurley's career as a runner was too short.  His early years at Cretin High School were divided between running and his first love in sports, hockey.  He wanted to play for the Gophers.  He wanted to play for legendary coach Herb Brooks, but his athletic talent was in another arena.

He discovered at Cretin that he was pretty good at running.  His first coach, Bill Miles, who left Cretin to coach at Wayzata, had these parting words for Hurley: "Promise me you'll keep running."  Don kept that promise and won two MSHSL cross country titles.
...Don Hurley now.
ShoreMaster photo
He went on to help the University of Minnesota win the Big Ten Championship, ran a "four minute mile equivalent" 3:43 in the 1,500 and was a national class steeplechaser.  He'd done all that by age 21 and it appeared his future was bright.  Instead of pursuing a career in the working world, he followed his athletic dreams, but his body had other plans.  Injuries had set him back during his college career and they ended his post collegiate one. "I pulled the trigger way too fast," he says today.  "When you get to that level, you have to look in the mirror," he says.

He was typical of many athletes who had promise and went full bore after their dreams.  Injuries were just another hurdle to clear.  At 21, he says now, the possibilities seemed limitless, but by 25 his running career was over.  Cartilage damage to his right knee became so bad that his knee "swelled like a basketball," he says.  But he wasn't going to let that stop him.  He had the doctors drain the knee and got back to training.  The dream died hard.

The damage to the right knee was so bad that he still has issues.He says that one of the things he wished was available during his time is better medical information and treatment.  He's noted that runners in this today's era of advanced sports medicine recover from similar injuries that didn't end so well for him.  The grit your teeth and run through it era has given way to a more intelligent approach to training with more knowledge, better equipment, and the concept that staying healthy is one of the major keys to a successful athletic career.

Another thing Hurley likes from the present day is the sportsmanship and collegiality of today's young athletes.  Instead of in his time where for many the approach was more "military," and your opponents were to be defeated, not associated with, todays athletes communicate via social media.  His son, Keeghan, the top ranked runner in Class A, he says, is friends with Obsa Ali, who is the top runner in Class AA.  On the course they compete just as hard as the athletes of his time, but off the course they are just people who share a common passion.

Both his son Keeghan and older brother Mike got their start in sports with swimming, but both also have running talent.  Mike ran a 50.62 quarter in high school, but swimming was his sport.  He was Minnesota Swimmer of the Year in 2009, set and broke his own state record in the 200 Individual Medley, and now is a junior at traditional US swim power, Indiana.  Keeghan has lost only once this year in pursuit of a Class A individual XC title and a repeat team title for Perham.  If he does win State this year, it is believed that it would be the only father/son duo ever to both win a MSHSL Cross Country title.

Despite the fact that his years as a runner are in the distant past, Hurley has taken the drive and dedication that led to sports success and applied it to the business world.  He is the president of ShoreMaster, "a premier manufacturer of waterfront equipment," and does a mean Elvis impersonation. To demonstrate to his kids that he's fluent in social media, he has his own website HERE. Aside from Elvis(on the humor tab), there is a photo of Gopher teammate John Idstrom during a fishing outing the pair had in Montana.

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