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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Cheney cross country runner Calvin Hilton following in father’s footsteps

By Greg Lee The Spokesman-Review

Calvin Hilton wants to do something his father never did, and match his father in another feat.

The Cheney junior standout runner wants to lead his team to a state championship and match the last state title won by the school in 1989 when his father, Dan Hilton, was an alternate at state as a sophomore for the Blackhawks.

Calvin wants to do his father one better by capturing an individual state championship.

If those accomplishments don’t come this year, at least he has another in which to do so.

“Honestly, my goal is to remain consistent through the season,” said Hilton, who finished 16th in the State 3A meet last year. “I’m not trying to put too much pressure on myself to perform in any race. That being said, I want to at least be in the top 10 (at state) if not put myself in the top five.”

Cheney coach Derek Slaughter wouldn’t be surprised if Hilton’s goals are achieved this fall.

“Calvin has changed the mentality of our team,” Slaughter said. “He’s led the push for summer running. He ran 600 miles in 10 weeks. His team has followed him.”

The official mileage was 621.

“I want to compete with the top guys in the state,” Hilton said. “My team was right there with me (this summer). Three other guys ran 600 miles. They want to go for that state championship.”

Dan Hilton finished 25th at state as a senior. He ran two years at Eastern Washington University and moved on to the University of Washington, where he earned a scholarship.

He was the Huskies’ No. 2 runner his senior year. He went on to coach the sport for eight years at EWU before joining the family business – real estate.

“(Running) was my passion, but Calvin is a more serious runner than I was,” Hilton said. “He’s pretty obsessed with it.”

Dad has no one to blame but himself. His son was what father called a “hardcore” club soccer player growing up. When Calvin reached high school, though, his father asked him to give cross country a try.

“He resisted it at first, but halfway through the season he loved it,” Dan said.

Calvin said he tried cross country as a way to stay in shape for soccer. He gave up his first sport, though, soon after his freshman cross country season.

“He’s really influenced me in running,” Calvin said of his father. “He’d always take me on runs as a little kid.”

Dan said the real credit should go to his wife, Keri.

“Calvin got all of his talent from his mom,” Dan said. “She got a scholarship to EWU for soccer and was on the Lewis and Clark state championship (4x400 meter) team.”

Calvin’s talents begin in the classroom. He sports a 4.0 grade-point average.

There’s no question he has the genes to take his long-distance career far. He’s starting to receive recruiting interest.

Slaughter said Hilton’s improvement since his sophomore season has been more mental than physical.

“It’s been his maturity,” Slaughter said. “He’s always been naturally gifted.”

“I’ve become more knowledgeable about the sport,” the junior Hilton said. “I know what I can do to be better. I’ve gotten in the weight room and strength training. From all aspects, I’ve been trying to improve across the board.”