Favorite athlete: Tom Brady, go Pats!
Favorite team: Penn State Nittany Lions
Favorite memory competing in sports: Running hard workouts with my teammates. The feeling after workouts that really challenge you is irreplaceable, especially when you suffer with your teammates.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: One of my friends ate a worm for $50 at practice one time.
Music on mobile device: Everything from my dad’s favorite music while he was growing up to the new kinds of music today.
Future plans: Run fast and study Economics at Penn State
Words to live by: My former coach Sean Stetler always told me to follow the 3 H’s: “Stay healthy, hungry and humble.”
One goal before turning 30: Run a mile in under four minutes.
One thing people don’t know about me: My parents forced me to join the track team in seventh grade after my baseball coach, Mr. Kusters, recognized that I had speed going around the bases. I owe the start of my track career to him!
By Ed Morrone
Hudson Delisle’s main sport growing up was baseball. Thing is, he didn’t really have the necessary passion and love for the game.
But there was one part of America’s pastime that Delisle really did dig: running the bases, and it would end up serving as his gateway to an athletic scholarship at Penn State University.
“My baseball coach when I was younger noticed I had speed, but at the same time, I wasn’t passionate about it anymore,” said Delisle, a recent graduate of Quakertown’s Class of 2018. “He went to my parents and told them, ‘Hudson is fast around the bases, you should have him try out for track.’ That was when I was in seventh grade. Playing baseball, I never found that drive that you need to succeed until it just came out of nowhere.”
Jim Parsons, the head track coach at Quakertown, vividly remembers the first time he saw Delisle run. It was the Milford-Strayer track meet, a big one on the Quakertown middle school running circuit.
“I saw him run and I said to myself, ‘This kid can be an absolute stud,’” Parsons recalled. “Sometimes in sports from a coaching perspective, you see a kid and you just know. Four years later, he really grew into his body and became one of the best male distance runners in the state. He’s just incredibly coachable and willing to listen. This year he became tactically one of the best 800-meter runners that I’ve seen. He’s also a kid who does everything in practice correctly and with a purpose.”
Delisle came into both the Quakertown track and cross country programs as an immediate contributor. He was drawn right away to the individualized aspect of a team sport, knowing that his success would be directly intertwined with that of his team.
Delisle was a good runner as a freshman, and quickly began piling up accolades the following year. He made it to outdoor track states as a sophomore, and then as a junior qualified for states in cross country before winning bronze medals at both the indoor and outdoor state championship events in the 800m. Delisle holds the school record in the cross country 5k with a time of 16 minutes, 2 seconds.
He turned himself into a sponge, absorbing every kernel of knowledge on how to properly train and race from coaches and older teammates. Delisle wanted to beat the best, and once he started passing upperclassmen teammates during practice, he knew he was setting a threshold for his future.
“Once I started to beat them, it was like, ‘OK, now there’s no reason to go back,’” Delisle said. “I had to keep improving. Those juniors and seniors pushed me so hard and instilled the competitive drive in me that I possess now. Guys like Brett Wolfinger (now running at Johns Hopkins University) paved the way for me and showed me how to do things.
“Brett and I used to train together, and he always told me that I should leave something better than when I found it. He beat that into my head as I grew into a runner and that made me want to be a great leader for my team one day the same way he was for me.”
Delisle has been Quakertown’s best runner for the past two seasons, but he doesn’t act like a guy who has become one of the most dominant distance runners in Pennsylvania and has committed to one of the most famous college athletic institutions in the country. His coaches, Parsons and cross country’s Ryan Stetler, each told stories of Delisle’s unselfish nature.
“First off, because of how fast he is, he often has to practice by himself, which is no easy thing,” Parsons said. “But Hudson embraces it. He comes out and always has a good attitude. He’s won state medals, but still is a guy open to coaching and improvement. He’s a genuinely nice and respectful kid; let’s face it, an 18-year-old who has had tremendous success could easily turn his nose at ninth and 10th graders, yet he helps them along. He talks to them with respect.
“This season, we were in ninth place in the 4x800 relay, and the district sends eight teams to states. We had a reasonable shot to make it as a team. The morning of the race, Hudson, who was already running the 800-meter race, said to me that he would be willing to give up his personal success to run the relay if it meant getting other guys to states. It didn’t end up happening, but it showed me what a special guy he was in order to give up his own glory for his teammates.”
Stetler was equally complimentary.
“In my eight years coaching cross country, I’ve had some talented runners come through and I credit Hudson as much as anyone,” Stetler said. “He’s always the first or second one to finish a race, and he’s always there high-fiving everyone as they cross the line, telling them ‘great race’ or ‘nice job.’ And it’s not just our team, it’s the opponents too. Before every race, he’ll shake 40 to 50 hands just wishing everyone good luck. He’s a special kid. As far as manners go, he’s got an all-inclusive mindset.”
Delisle found out around the end of his sophomore year that Division-I colleges were coming to court him. He started getting letters from schools around that time and said he really grew into himself as a runner during his phenomenal junior campaign. Penn State, West Point and the University of Pittsburgh were all interested, but in the end Delisle chose Happy Valley.
The same inclusive mindset he fostered within the Quakertown program was the vibe he got when Delisle went on his official visit to Penn State. He said it felt like “everyone wanted to be there,” and that although West Point’s rigorous academic curriculum would have benefitted him in the long run, Delisle felt Penn State gave him the best chance to compete both athletically and academically at the highest level.
“One of my running influences told me once to put 100 percent of myself into two things at a time,” Delisle said. “I want to put 100 percent of myself into track the next four years, and I hope to excel academically the same way I do as a runner.”
Just like his track career, Delisle got even stronger academically as he progressed through high school, brushing aside the temptation of coasting during popular “senior-itis” months. Even after he announced his commitment to Penn State, Delisle kept working his tail off in the classroom. Just like in running, he had no interest in regressing once he hit his stride.
“He’s dedicated to his craft, and he wants to be as competitive in class as he is out on the track,” Parsons said. “A lot of time with seniors, grades take a tumble, yet he continues to improve. He’s got a very high ceiling, and Penn State recognizes that. If he stays healthy, he can be a stud up there.”
Stetler is an English teacher at Quakertown, and while he’s never had Delisle in one of his classes, he’s aware of his star runner’s sterling academic reputation.
“Some seniors coast and are willing to just focus on their sport, but he’s really buckled down in taking AP and honors courses,” Stetler said. “He’s kept challenging himself, and he’s maintained A’s and B’s — mostly A’s — while routinely taking home three to four hours of homework a night on top of his running responsibilities. His Honors English class is across the hall, and his teacher has told me that Hudson is a standout in his class. He said he wished he had 100 students just like him. It’s not in Hudson’s DNA not to see something all the way through.”
Delisle grew up in Maine, moving to the Philadelphia area halfway between his seventh and eighth birthdays. He described his family as one that loves the outdoors, so he’ll spend time with his parents and siblings, as well as his close friends, fishing or going on long hikes.
He plans to study economics at Penn State, mainly due to some business electives and an economics class at Quakertown. He said his father was always very business-minded and constantly had stock market channels on the television, and Delisle just developed an interest to the economy by osmosis.
Now that his high school career is over, Delisle found himself reflecting on the previous four years. More than anything, Delisle was grateful for everyone in his corner who helped mold him into the young man he has become. From his family to his coaches to teammates like Wolfinger who pushed him every day and showed him how to be the best…heck, even the baseball coach who recognized speed was his meal ticket: Delisle has nothing but gratitude.
“I’ll just miss the part of finding out that this was something I was good at,” he says of his time at Quakertown. “The support from my parents, teammates and coaches … those are the people around me who helped me grow into what I’ve become. Looking back at it and seeing how I progressed and the people who influenced me the most - that’s what I’ll really miss. They helped me grow to the sense that I knew this is what I wanted to do in college.
“Individually, I always wanted to go up to states and get a medal. My coaches put in hours of work from their own lives into the sport and into improving my time and fitness. Getting state medals at indoor and outdoor was a big plus for me because I was able to live up to the goals I set for myself. And as a team, this past year and my junior year we finished second at league champs; it was a goal to win, but even though we didn’t, we got after it and worked so hard together. It was something that brought us together during workouts and it helped us grow into a family more than a team.”