Cross Country might be one of the best sports for “brotherly” competition. Runners get to compete with themselves through personal records, and with other competitors including your own teammates through the race format.
In the rare case, you get to add more spice with the opportunity to compete with your own sibling. That is a luxury that Derby seniors Austin and Ethan Hock have had for most of their running careers.
“We have been competing against each other for a while, so we are used to it,” Austin Hock said.
That competition between siblings is something that helps motivate them while running.
“Ethan helps me and pushes me,” Austin said. “And then I just beat him in the end.”
The sibling rivalry runs deep and the goal of passing each other remains a goal.
“It gives you something to shoot for,” Ethan Hock added.
Austin and Ethan first got into cross country through their dad, and it didn’t take much convincing to keep them in the sport.
“Our dad put us in there in middle school,” Austin said. “We ended up being pretty decent at it, so he encouraged us to keep doing it.”
After transferring from Kapaun Mt. Carmel following their first year of high school, the Hock brothers came to Derby and have become two of the top runners for the Panthers.
Last season, the duo propelled the squad into state for the first time since 2012, which included a regional title and a ninth place finish at the state meet. The Hock brothers were the top Derby finishes with a 26th place finish by Austin, followed by Ethan with a 56th place result.
On the course, you might be able to hear the brothers talking during the race. The conversation topics range from jokes to race strategies.
“We just entertain each other,” Ethan said. “It is pretty funny.”
You might even hear the two cracking jokes in the middle of competition.
“We just have a normal conversation, or we’ll just make jokes,” Austin said.
The Hock brothers have similar racing strategies with the goal of a quick start and making jumps throughout the race.
“I like to get out to the front at the beginning with the top 10 people and working my way up throughout the race,” Austin said.
After a season full of guidelines and cancellations, the brothers are excited to have a normal season of competition.
“I am pretty excited,” Ethan said. “It is better than that whole pandemic season and having to wear a mask 24/7 throughout the season.”
The goals for the duo are pretty similar – to shave precious seconds off of their personal records. For Austin, the goal is to run a race under 16:30, and for Ethan, the goal is to run a time under 17 minutes and return to the state meet.
With the senior experience of this class, making the state meet is a realistic possibility for boys’ cross country.