by Nathan Heuer
It was 45 years ago when Fred Carnahan was claiming Platte College's first national championship in school history.
The Genoa native and high school cross country and track state champion won the National Junior College cross country title in 1972, then became the first three-season national champ at the junior college level by taking the outdoor 3-mile and indoor 2-mile titles the following year.
Carnahan is still the only national champion in Platte College, now Central Community College-Columbus, history.
What was his secret to success?
"There was a stretch there I averaged (running) 120 to 140 miles a week," Carnahan said.
A strong supporting cast also helped.
"Like I've told several people, it's not everything that I did, it's all the folks I had around me," Carnahan said. "I've always been a believer that you're only as good as the folks you're surrounded by. I've got a lot of support from teammates at Platte and friends at Platte. Also, the people of Columbus and people of Genoa, it was just an easy thing to do."
After graduating from Platte College, Carnahan chose to continuing running at the University of Colorado. He had about 200 scholarship offers from around the country.
Looking back at the decision more than four decades later, Carnahan said he may have selected a different school, even though Boulder was a great place.
"They kind of caught me at a weak moment. I really wanted to run at Nebraska. That's what I really wanted," he said. '"I kind of got tired of the recruiting process and Colorado happened to call that morning after I had been out there for a visit and I agreed to sign with them. That was one of those things where after you do it you say, 'Jeez, I don't know if that was the right thing or not.'"
He won the NCAA Regional Cross Country championship in 1974 for the Buffaloes.
In 2011, his accomplishments at Platte College earned him a spot in the inaugural Central Community College Athletic Hall of Fame class.
About one month ago, Carnahan received a phone call for his second hall of fame induction, this time the National Junior College Track and Field Hall of Fame.
"I was totally shocked. I'm glad I was sitting down because it was a big surprise," Carnahan said. "It was a humbling telephone call, I'll tell you that."
The longtime Kearney resident said while both hall of fame inductions mean a lot to him, the recent selection has a bit more significance.
"The Platte one is really good, too. That's a good one, but this one here is a step above, when you consider everyone that has been involved with track around the country," he said.
The 63-year-old was honored May 20 during an induction ceremony in Hutchinson, Kansas.
(Reprinted with the permission of the Columbus Telegram.)