Four-time All-American Track and Cross Country runner Coby Horowitz ’14 finished first in last Saturday’s NESCAC championship with a time of 24:26.78. Horowitz is the first runner in 12 years to win the men’s individual title for Bowdoin.
Like many other athletes, Horowitz is quite superstitious about his race-day routine.
“I always wear the same shirt, I only have two pairs of socks since they wash our socks for us, and I pretty much do the exact same thing everyday, from when I wake up to when I race,” said Horowitz. “Ke$ha’s ‘Die Young’ was my jam that day.”
Horowitz started the race off with a 4:52 mile, running in a pack for most of the race. In the final mile, Horowitz and Matt Rand of Tufts University trailed Mike Leduc of Connecticut College. With 800 meters to go, Horowitz and Rand closed in on Leduc. Horowitz kicked into a higher gear, battling it out with Rand in the final 20 meters to win by only two meters.
“Rand and I have a raced a lot, so I kind of knew his style,” said Horowitz of his competitor. “Definitely a familiar face, and I ended up beating him so that was sweet.”
The victory was made sweeter by the fact that last year, Horowitz finished second to Michael Schmidt of Middlebury, who is now coaching Rand at Tufts.
The NESCAC Championship is an extremely competitive race, as the NESCAC is considered the strongest cross-country conference in NCAA Division III. Last year, five NESCAC teams finished in the top 15 at the national tournament.
Horowitz cites the shared efforts of his teammates as his motivation.
“I know the guys behind me are doing the exact same thing, and maybe if I let one guy pass me than they’ll let one guy pass them,” said Horowitz.
A three-time Orient Athlete of the Week, Horowitz came in second place last year at the NESCAC championships.
Head Coach Peter Slovenski says Horowitz has improved greatly since beginning his career at the College.
“I think Coby has been very intelligent by how he’s combined an All-American work ethic with the natural ability that he has,” said Slovenski. “Coby is really smart about learning the lessons from his best races and his off-days.”
Horowitz recalls going into races without a plan during his first season.
“Here’s the guy in first, I’m just going to sit on him until I die...which is a terrible plan if he’s really good!” said Horowitz.
He credits his improvement this year to increased summer training.
“I was able to do a lot more speed work this year during the season because I didn’t have to spend a few weeks getting my base back up, so it made the transition into cross country a lot easier. ”
Horowitz’s training partners Sam Seekins ’14 and Nick Saba ’14 have been vital to his success, constantly pushing him to run faster.
“Most of the time it’s the full team but when we do that extra step its just the three of us, its really nice to have those two guys with me all the time,” said Horowitz.
Slovenski also believes that Horowitz’s attitude has a positive impact on his fellow teammates.
“In cross country the discipline and structure can get to be repetitious but Coby’s sense of humor keeps it interesting and fun,” said Slovenski. “He’s got a joyful spirit about what we do. Whether it’s going for a 15-mile run or running repeat miles at five minute pace, some people get through it with a lot determination but it helps if you have a spirit of joy about what you’re doing, and he really does.”
Seekins and Saba also reflected on the interesting dual nature of Horowitz.
“He’s very energetic, he has the heart of a twelve-year-old but at the same time he’s also very serious and knows when we should be quiet and focusing on running,” said Saba.
“He’s basically a cat: he hates rain, he loves cuddling and he’s really cute. He’s run on a treadmill before to avoid running in the rain, not a decision most of us would make, but one he would make,” said Seekins.