Q&A // Alex Haufler, Francis Scott Key, cross country

Alex Haufler, 14, is enjoying success in his first season of cross country running. He also is a standout competitive swimmer.
Alex Haufler, 14, is enjoying success in his first season of cross country running. He also is a standout competitive swimmer. (Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron)

Francis Scott Key freshman Alex Haufler may be just 14, but he's already a rising star in two sports.

Aside from being a standout swimmer for the Carroll Aquatics Tiger Sharks, specializing in the backstroke and individual medley, he's also the No. 4 runner for the seventh-ranked Eagles cross country team.


He will be a critical component for the team as it heads into the postseason, with the Monocacy Valley Athletic League Blue Ridge Conference championships set for Friday at Liberty, and the Carroll County Championships scheduled for Oct. 25 at South Carroll.

A year ago, Key took each of the top five spots to win the county title in unprecedented fashion.


How do you feel that your freshman year is going?

I think it's going very nicely because I'm really dropping a lot of time and learning how to run my own race.

Have you changed the way that you've approached your races through the season?

Yes. Now I think that if you get a really good place it's better than getting a really good time because it'll help your team out.

You're a part of a team that's had much success over the past couple years. Have your older teammates helped you out?

Yes. They always give me clues and hints about how to run a race.

How old were you when you first started running?

This is my first year competitively running.

So you've been swimming for a lot longer than you've been running, correct?

Yeah, I've been swimming since kindergarten.

What made you want to run?

It was a choice between cross country and soccer, and I wanted to try something new, so I did running.


Have you done a lot of running in training for swimming?

We would run maybe three days a week in swimming but it wasn't a whole bunch of running.

Was it a shock to the system to do all these miles once you joined the cross country team?

After the first couple of weeks I was really exhausted, but now I'm better because I've gotten less tired.

Do you also swim during the fall season?

Swimming is year round, so I try to get into the pool three days a week and maybe on Sundays just to loosen up for the next week.

It sounds like you have an incredibly busy schedule between the running and the swimming. What's a typical day like for you?

I go to school and then we'd do the running, and then I'd come home, grab something to eat, and go right over to swimming. Typically I'll be done with swimming around 8 or 8:30. I usually just try - if I have less homework one day, I go to swimming that day. If I had a lot, I'd just not go to swimming.

Has is been tough for you to budget your time, considering all that you do?

No, because my schedule has always been busy. It's pretty normal.

Has there been one accomplishment of yours in swimming that you're most proud of?

I came in second in states last year in the backstroke and third the year before that.

Do you like to play other sports?

I like to play tennis every once in a while, and that's pretty much it.

Do you wish that the public schools offered swimming as a varsity sport?

Yeah, I'd really like that, but at Francis Scott Key, there's probably not enough people that know about it and actually swim to make it a competitive sport.

Do any of your cross country teammates swim?

I'm the only one that swims competitively, but they all try to get into the water just to loosen up once a week.

Do you think that one sport helps you in the other?

I think that swimming really helps in any other sport because it really works all the muscles.

What do you do to focus your energy before a big race?

I usually just think about the race and what I want to do and then just do it.

You've been swimming for so much longer than you've running. Is it easier for you to prepare for a swim meet than it is for a cross country race?

It's harder for cross country because with swim meets, it's always the same distance and it's always the same level. In cross country, the courses are all different and different lengths, so it's a little harder.

Do you plan to keep swimming and running throughout high school?

Throughout high school, yeah, but towards my senior year, I'm probably going to have to back off one or the other. It'll really depend on which one I like more and I'll enjoy the most.

Do you have a preference right now?

No. I really like swimming. Running is new and it's fun. My opinion will probably change over the years, but not right now.

You've had so much success in swimming. Is it at all frustrating not having that same level of success right away in cross country?

You just have some good days and bad days, so I do expect the worst sometimes.

Your twin brother, Eric, currently plays soccer in the fall. Would you like to see him come out for cross country next season?

Yeah, because then we could run together and it would really benefit the team. I train with him over the summer, so we'd be really good together.

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