El Campo Ricebird Philip Hundl has been a rising star ever since stepping onto the track at the high school. As a sophomore, he made it to state. As a junior, he had bronze medal finishes in the high jump and the 110-meter hurdles.
His senior season has yet to be written, but he already knows he’ll be continuing his athletic career in college.
Late January, Hundl put his signature on his national letter of intent committing to the Air Force Academy.
The Ricebird had been a multi-sport athlete for El Campo playing in football and basketball along-side track. However, as a junior after two third-place finishes at the state meet and a good shot at a college scholarship, he decided to put all of his energy into track.
“The alure of track for me is how direct (the impact is) to how much work you put in and how much you are training,” Hundl said. “You can’t take a play off or rest on a possession. It’s against the clock. It’s a set height. You can’t cheat that. You have to go hard all the time.”
“Hundl’s put in a lot of work from the time he stepped on campus as a freshman,” El Campo track coach Gabriel Cavazos said. “He’s been able to improve on his speed, his endurance and his technical work. With the hurdles and the high jump, he’s just gotten technically better every year.”
The Air Force hurdles coach took notice of Hundl last year at the state track meet after seeing him run the 110-meter hurdles. After talks with both the hurdles and the track coach, Hundl is ready to continue his development in college to hopefully reach his full potential.
“Talking to their hurdle coach, the way he talks about my upside, he talks about as you just have no idea how far you can go. It’s very encouraging,” Hundl said. “Their head coach said the same thing about the decathlon. Once you get in here, we’ll really know, but you can go a long way with (the decathlon).”
Being a decathlete and competing in 10 events, which includes the pole vault, is something he hasn’t done.
While he’s yet to try all the different events he’ll compete in, he’s confident the four years in El Campo will help him.
“Playing multiple sports gives you a leg up, because you know a lot of different movements and how to move in a lot of different ways that aren’t on the track,” Hundl said.
Hundl had many offers, even taking an official visit to West Point, but the Air Force just stuck out to him. As one of the higher-ranked students academically at El Campo, education alongside having a good track program was important and Air Force was a happy medium for him.
“I think whenever (I) found the best of both worlds, it was definitely the Air Force Academy,” Hundl said. “There were a lot of pros and cons to each place (I was offered). (Air Force) was definitely the one at the top that checked the most boxes for sure.”
Following his senior season Hundl will pack his bags and head to Colorado along with being on the track team, he’ll study mechanical engineering. When college is over, by signing with the Air Force, Hundl will have five years of active-duty military service.
“I look it as, you already have your time planned out so you can really just focus on (being) in the moment,” Hundl said. “You can focus on what you are doing and you don’t decide what you are going to do. It helps you narrow down your train of thought.”
While college is still off in the distance, the El Campo hurdler and high jumper is hoping he can cap off his high school career with a bit of gold before starting his Air Force journey.
“Knock on wood and everything, but definitely want to get back to the state meet,” Hundl said. “I got third in both events. It’d be nice to get gold in the 110-hurdles and the high jump, that’s definitely the big goal on the board this year. I know if I do the things I need to do, I’ve got a really good shot at pulling it off.”