Hunter wrote to IU’s track and field program asking to be a part of its team and said he sent out about 50 recruiting letters trying to see which coaches were interested in him.
IU Coach Ron Helmer was one of the coaches who responded and wanted him to be a part of his program.
“I’m not quite sure why we chose him, but we did,” Helmer said. “Certainly it was the right thing to do as he’s done a lot for us.”
About every other week, Helmer said the team receives a letter from an international runner asking to join the program.
“I was fortunate to just get on the team,” Hunter said.
Hunter said one of the biggest reasons he chose IU was it was home to 1,500-meter champion Andrew Bayer. The event is Hunter’s specialty.
“People take notice when you have success and high-level kids who would like to be in a similar program will write us and seek us out,” Helmer said.
Hunter said he sought the Hoosiers out because of their success and depth as a program. But beyond IU, the United States’ collegiate running system was something he was drawn to.
“I liked the appeal of a bunch of under-23-year-olds training together and racing together on a weekly basis,” Hunter said. “The support is overwhelming compared to Australia as once you get out of high school, you are just another statistic.”
Hunter called the NCAA a great stepping stone in his progression as a runner and credited the great support that is available at the school as a component of that. Though he began his progression almost 9,000 miles from home, Helmer said Hunter was able to fit right in.
“He handled his transition coming over from Australia really well,” Helmer said. “He was mature and had already been in college for a year and a half (in Queensland) before he came over. It’s easier when you are older and have maturity to experience this culture shock.”
A former Aussie Rules football player, Hunter said he didn’t choose racing until he was in ninth grade and said it was better than getting knocked around in the contact sport. Before he came to the United States, Hunter said he never ran more than 30 miles a week and now routinely does that.
“It took me a year to 18 months to start training into a higher level athlete,” Hunter said.
As a redshirt sophomore, Hunter finished seventh at the 2013 Big Ten Championships, earning him All-Big Ten honors.
“It came as a huge surprise to me,” Hunter said on his finish at the Big Ten Championship. “I hadn’t done much on the cross country course and I really broke out in that race at the right time.”
Last season, Hunter said he was frustrated because he wasn’t able to consistently do what he had given the Hoosiers a glimpse of in earning All-Big Ten honors.
During the summer, Helmer noted Hunter trained hard and said Hunter’s confidence level and capacity for work are higher than they’ve ever been.
“I am in the best shape I have ever been in and am poised to take some big steps,” Hunter said.
Hunter was IU’s top finisher at the Indiana Intercollegiate meet with a time of 25:53. At the Princeton Interregional, Hunter finished seventh and helped IU pull off a victory.
“It is big having a good cross-country season as it sets up the rest of the year, through the indoor and outdoor track season,” Hunter said. “It gives you a solid foundation.”