The beginning of Drew Hunter's legendary high school career began in 2014 at the VHSL Group 3A Championships in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Six years ago, the Loudoun Valley then-sophomore would win his first outdoor titles, doubling in both the 1,600m and 3,200m races.
No one knew then that he who would go on to break an indoor national 3,000 meter record, or that he would become the most sought after distance recruit since Alan Webb, Hunter eventually deciding to turn pro out of high school.
But they soon found out.
As a sophomore, he was still fighting to prove himself.
In the 1,600m, perhaps that's where his fight first came out.
Hunter ran a career race, pushing the pace early to take the lead on Blacksburg's Kenneth Hagen, a worthy adversary, before he was passed on the third lap.
Hagen then forced Hunter to cover his move, and the duo battled over the next 800 meters as the rest of the field fought to keep up.
On the final turn, in a truly cinematic moment, Hunter went to Lane 2 for his final move. Hagen matched it. The duo sprinted all-out for a final 100 meters, but it would be Hunter who claimed victory, scoring the first state title of his career in a time of 4:10.04, a US No. 36 time. Hagen was second in 4:10.40. The next closest competitor was nine seconds back.
2014 VHSL Group 3A 1,600m Final Results
BOYS 1600 METER RUN FINALS PLACE ATHLETE TEAM RESULT WIND H# 1 Drew Hunter 10 Loudoun Valley 4:10.04 1 2 Kenneth Hagen 12 Blacksburg High School 4:10.40 1 3 Gaige Kern 11 Alleghany 4:19.51 1 4 Dawson Connell 12 York 4:23.74 1 5 Andrew de Jong 12 Western Albemarle 4:24.96 1 6 Sam Teller 10 Blacksburg High School 4:24.98 1 7 Gannon Willcutts 10 Western Albemarle 4:27.95 1 8 Jason Menzies 12 Lafayette 4:28.35 1
It wouldn't be his only title, though.
In a slightly easier performance, Hunter would once again prove he was the class of Group 3A, winning the 3,200m in a time of 9:28.49, a clear five-seconds ahead of second-place Jason Menzies of Lafayette.
It wasn't a PR on the season -- he had run 9:25 earlier -- but Hunter's year-over-year improvement was certainly moving in the right direction.
He took off 12 seconds from his best of 9:40 as a freshman, and by 2015, he would absolutely shatter his overall best in a two-mile at Brooks PR, going 8:42.51.
2014 VHSL Group 3A 3,200m Final Results
BOYS 3200 METER RUN FINALS PLACE ATHLETE TEAM RESULT WIND H# 1 Drew Hunter 10 Loudoun Valley 9:28.49 1 2 Jason Menzies 12 Lafayette 9:33.16 1 3 Gannon Willcutts 10 Western Albemarle 9:33.36 1 4 Sam Teller 10 Blacksburg High School 9:37.87 1 5 Andrew Carlin 10 New Kent 9:47.67 1 6 Sam LeHardy 11 Hidden Valley High School 9:50.34 1 7 Corey Tooke 12 Brentsville District 9:50.81 1 8 Josh Showalter 11 Turner Ashby 9:53.21 1
Interestingly enough, while Hunter wouldn't gather a third title on this day, he did bring the Vikings back from a major deficit, going from sixth to third in the 4x800 relay.
Loudoun Valley was third in 8:08.01.
Retrospective: Two years later, Hunter would run 7:59.33 for 3,000 meters indoors, breaking the high school national record. He also broke four minutes twice that same season, going 3:57 and 3:58, his Millrose Games performance netting him a fourth-place finish. The ensuing outdoor season saw him break four minutes twice more, and Hunter also scored a legendary kick in the Penn Relays DMR that would net Loudoun Valley a win in the final seconds. Hunter qualified for the IAAF World Junior Championships and later turned pro, signing a professional contract with Adidas. He currently trains with the Tinman Elite in Boulder, Colorado.