July 6, 2019

The Navy track and field 4x400m relay team of Eric Hughey (Lee’s Summit, Mo.), Simon Petsch (Billings, Mont.), Cameron Hurd (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.), and John Finnegan (Spring, Texas) combined for a school-record time of 3:07.24 to finish 11th overall and qualify for nationals in the last heat of the last race of the day at the NCAA East Preliminaries at Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.

By Jordan Russo-Hicks
Intern for the Tribune

Lee’s Summit North High School graduate, Eric Hughey, now Naval Academy Midshipmen and Track and Field runner, is no stranger to accomplishing big things on the track. Having won conference championships in the 400m dash (2016) and 4x400m relay (2014, ’15, ’16), All-Conference in the 4x400m relay (2014, ’15, ’16), All-State in the 4x400m relay (2015, ’16), and last but not least, All-State in the 400m dash (2015, ’16). Bringing his competitive nature and will to win along with him to Annapolis, Eric swiftly picked up on the characteristics of a collegiate athlete. A strong freshman campaign landed him in a position to just be more hungry to win. Closing out his sophomore year, Eric’s 4×400 relay compiled might as they broke a Navy school record that stood for more than 30 years. Coming in at a time of 3:07.24.

It was the NCAA East Preliminary Regional meet, the meet that qualifies a team for the NCAA National Championship. A day or two prior to the day of the 4×400, teammates of Eric had already broken records in their respective events. These performances encouraged and aspired Eric to do the same. Albeit, there was a mild sense of nervousness, but that is not out of the ordinary as track meets can be very nerve-racking. Eric had been told that his performance along with his teammates must not be anything short of record-breaking as that was what was needed to make it to the National meet. This pressure proved to be worthwhile because there were tons of talented teams that had steadily competed at a high level, that were left in the dust.

The Navy track team trained hard all year to get to the point of readiness. When the moment in time came for history to be rewritten, Eric and his team were more than ready to do so.

Thinking back to high school this wasn’t a sure sight for Eric as he said, “I can’t say for sure that I saw this coming, but it was a dream of mine to break at least one school record during my time here.” This dream became a reality soon enough. “I think I realized we had a chance at getting a record performance when my roommate, Simon Petsch, ran under 48 seconds for 400m. We ran a stellar performance at the Penn Relays a week after he did that, and I think we really started to realize we had a chance to do something special as a group.

Eric’s post-collegiate plans include being commissioned as an Officer, either in the U.S. Navy as an Ensign, or as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. “I am still in the process of figuring out which warfare community I would like to select, but I am interested in the Naval Aviation Community the most right now.”

It would come as no surprise for supporters of Eric for him to make even more track and field history as his persistence and drive to win are rare to find.