The History of Indiana Runner
As Told by Derek Leininger
Now that IndianaRunner.com has been “reborn” I realized that a lot of our viewers would have no idea what IndianaRunner.com used to be. Most of the high school athletes today have only known Hoosier Authority – they were still in junior high when IR merged with HA. So I figured I would write up a brief history of the beginning, some of the evolution, the death, and also now the rebirth of this web site.
Birth Date: June 15, 2000
It was the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school. I was basically a fanatic when it came to running, specifically high school running in Indiana (I still am). One of the things that I realized as I started to get more and more “in” to the sport was that there wasn’t a lot of information around about the sport. With the exception of the tournament series on the IHSAA web site, I could hardly ever find results from major meets across Indiana. What happened at New Prairie? or Culver? Who won the DAC? And who was 2nd and 3rd? These were questions that weren’t available to everybody. Unless you were actually at the meet, chances are you simply didn’t ever see full results. (I realize this is nearly impossible for some of you to imagine, but I assure you it’s true)
So I decided to start a web site and see if we could somehow centralize information and generate more excitement and knowledge for the sport. I claim no genius or special skill, I was and remain a novice (at best) when it comes to web sites – but within the first year, the web site absolutely took off! It was truly remarkable. I was getting hundreds of emails each week with results and information from around the state.
Coaches, athletes, parents and the plain old running fanatics were given their own web site. It was dedicated entirely to high school cross country and track in the state of Indiana. The summer of 2000 was the birth of IndianaRunner.com.
Within a couple of years, I realized that in order to get to the next level, I needed help – and from all across Indiana. I ended up hiring on several guys. Brandon Jones is the biggest name that you still see associated with IR. Other guys like Justin Fawbush, Matt Clark, Ben Bartley, Kris McAloon, Kate LeFurgy, Blake Roebuck, Mike Zonder and Tom Moeller were big contributors, as well. Colin Altevogt came on later in the IR years.
At any rate, the point is that we started to become more of a big-time operation. We picked up a couple of sponsors here and there (Chuck Koeppen and Carolyn Yost and the All-Star XC Camp were incredible to us and they have agreed AGAIN to help sponsor IR in this second time around) and IR got to the point where it ran itself. We didn’t have to go looking for results, I would have them ALL emailed to me (many times I would get 3 or 4 coaches emailing me the same set of results from the same meet). We had different people doing rankings for each semi state (and they became experts at it). We had individual and team rankings that became pretty accurate from week to week. Bottom Line: It was awesome!
Death: December 31, 2005
But like all good things, it had to end some time. By 2005, I was coaching and was a full-time college student and I just could not keep working on IR any longer. Brandon Jones was in a similar spot – he wanted to keep doing coverage, but he didn’t have the web site skills necessary to run IR by himself. We (Jones and I) began looking for options. By fall 2005, Hoosier Authority looked really good. I met with the head of the organization and by the end of our meeting, we had worked out the details of a merge between IR with HA, effective January 1, 2006.
The alternative to merging was to shut down – and we did not want to do that. But we simply did not have the resources or time to continue on our own. So we “merged” in December 2005 and IndianaRunner.com was laid to rest.
Rebirth: July 14, 2008
Most of the time, you have a date of birth and a date of death. There usually isn’t a third date … but in this case, there is! IndianaRunner.com was something that never really left my mind. I continued each year to pay and renew the domain name so that I never lost ownership of it. I always imagined a scenario where IR would be needed again. I wasn’t actively pursuing the rebirth of IR, but I just imagined some day it could happen. And that scenario presented itself this summer. And it’s going to be an awesome cross country season!
Change of Guard: June 09, 2009 (as told by Stephen Bain)
The time was coming when many of the last standing founders of this site had many other things going on in their lives, including a family. The next in the food chain are also beginning their teaching and coaching careers and therefore were losing more and more volunteer time each week. At the end of the 2008-2009 track season, Derek Leininger was ready to hand over the web designing duties over to IndianaRunner.com. At this point, I (Stephen Bain) took over and decided to search for a new program that would have a similar retro look that IndianaRunner has always had, but would make it easier to quickly update the website for various staff members. We now are looking forward to what our new staff will be able to do and how we can help advance this true wonder of a site.
Third Generation: June 2011
In May of 2011, Stephen Bain accepted a full-time position in Florida. The site was in need of new leadership that was able to cover the action from in-state. Drake Sterling took over as main Webmaster for the site as well as the Message Board Administrator and Special Events Director. Colin continued to work as Girls Coordinator.
Indiana Runner flourished during this time with new, better coverage featuring more webcasts, social media interactions, etc.
The Here and Now: 2015
In an attempt to spread the work, Derek Leininger came back on staff as the Chief Accountant and Advertising Director. Scott Lidskin, a legendary coach for Westfield took over the day to day main web page operations. Drake continued to work as the Message Board Administrator, Social Media Director, and as a main contributor to the web content. Colin became the first Meet Director for the XC Summer Showcase and continued to work closely with the Girls rankings and web content.