East Noble’s Austin Liepe, front center, signs his letter of intent to run cross country and track at Huntington Univeristy. Joining him in the front are his father and head cross country coach Mark Liepe, left, and mother Wendy Liepe. In back, from left, are assistant cross country coach Amanda Juillerat, assistant cross country and track coach Josh Prochaska, assistant track coach Ryan Starkel, assistant cross country and track coach Bill Krock and boys track head coach Cliff Hannon.

KENDALLVILLE — Austin Liepe officially put pen to paper on Thursday night on his commitment to run cross country and track at Huntington University starting in the fall.

“I wanted to go to Huntington because it’s a little bit closer to home, which I kind of like,” Liepe said. “It’s a little bit smaller atmosphere. The main reason was they have the degree I wanted, which is crop science, and I could continue my athletics in cross country and track.”

Running collegiately was something that never crossed Liepe’s mind until his sophomore year.

“When I first started running in middle school, running in college seemed like a lot, but by my sophomore year, I started getting pretty good. I thought that I’d like to continue running in college,” Liepe said.

Liepe was pretty good for the Knights in both cross country and track during his career.

He was a three-time semi-state qualifier in cross country, made the KPC Media Group All-Area cross country team all three of those years and was named the Pop Guymon Award winner for being East Noble’s Most Outstanding Senior Male Athlete.

His finish at the New Haven Semi-state was better and better each year, going from 62nd in 2017 to 47th in 2019. Liepe’s time dropped each semi-state appearance as well.

“I like running competitively because it gives me something to look forward to. I know when I’m having a workout or something, it will help me get better to compete at the next level or compete that Saturday in a race,” Liepe said. “I’ve always been a competitive person. Being able to be pretty good at it has been pretty cool and to race against some pretty fast people and get that experience has been pretty cool.”

On the track, Liepe took first in the 3,200-meter race at the Northeast 8 Conference meet last season. He wanted to repeat as champion at the conference meet this season, as well as win the 1,600-meter race and qualify for the state finals for the first time in his career.

Those goals won’t be accomplished after the cancellation of the spring season.

“When we received the message that we weren’t going to have a spring season, I was pretty devastated. I was looking forward to having my last spring sports season. But I knew that I would continue my next four years running in college, so I had that to look forward to,” Liepe said. “I’ve been keeping on my running to prepare my freshman year in college.”

With his major, Liepe said the career he will have after graduation will be a mix of work in the field and in the lab.

“I’d like to get a job a chemical place or seed place where I would go out into the fields and analyze the fields and determine how make them better and get better yields off of them,” Liepe said.

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