Lutz Continues His Upward Climb


AHEAD OF THE PACK: Kurt Lutz, 524, takes the lead as the Vaqueros Cross Couintry Team competes at the Orange Coast Classic in Costa Mesa on Sept. 15.

Chantal Bevard, Staff Writer

For one cross country athlete with a quirky sense of humor, running is almost as essential to life as breathing.

“It has always been part of me; if I stop running I get depressed and my sleeping schedule gets out of balance,” said Kurt Lutz, an environmental science major.

“I mean it’s a lot of stuff that goes wrong when I stop running. I started running before I could even remember. It’s always been a part of me, as much as breathing.”

The 19-year-old started running competitively in 2001, trained himself to be healthier, overcome academic challenges and dealt with a tough relationship with his father.

Lutz was named Western State Conference male athlete of the week for the week of Sept. 10. He has continued to excel this season and took third on Oct. 5, helping his team take first at the WSC Preview Meet at Santa Monica College. Lutz took ninth on Friday, helping his team take third at the Santa Barbara Invitational.

“I actually wasn’t expecting it [winning athlete of the week]. I didn’t know that I was at this level already,” Lutz said. “I knew I was going to improve a lot, but I didn’t know that I was going to improve this much.”

As a sophomore runner, Lutz has improved greatly over the last year. His coach, Kathryn Nelson, and his captain, Isaac Diosdado, all agree that this improvement has been because of his dedication to staying healthy.

“Kurt has improved considerably over the last year. This improvement is from his consistency with the team and the program by staying healthy.” said Nelson.

The 6-foot-2 inch athlete has stayed healthy by not overworking himself and developing stress fractures. By staying healthy over the past year, he had time over the summer to properly train for the cross country season.

“I hope that running continues to go well for Kurt because he’s happy,” said Debbie Lutz, Lutz’s mother and part-time preschool teacher, “It’s all tied together; school goes well for him if running is going well and also the other way around.”

Lutz is a full-time student at GCC and is also a part-time student at College of the Canyons. He has to take additional classes due to his rough freshman academic year.

“I didn’t do well because I didn’t prepare myself last year,” said Lutz. “I thought, ‘Oh I’m going to a junior college, it’s just going to be like high school, part two.’ But it really wasn’t, it was much harder than I thought.”

This year Lutz is focusing more on school so that he can transfer next fall.

Lutz is like many teenage boys in that when he has some free time, he enjoys hanging out with friends, playing video games and piano.

However, unlike many teenagers, he doesn’t have an interest in having a girlfriend. He says that he “has always been awkward and doesn’t have time for girls right now.”

Debbie also said that Lutz isn’t focused on girls. She said, “he has put girls on the back burner, for now.”

In addition to being a great runner, Lutz is also a self-taught piano player. He said, “I have been able to listen to something and play it on the piano. My mom says it was just something I was born with.”

Lutz said that he doesn’t really care what people think of him. Debbie said that her son thinks this way because, “He is confident with himself. He knows who he is and knows what his values are, he is very down to earth.”

Most people who know Lutz seem to share their opinions about him. Alec, Lutz’s mother and sister, Amanda Lutz, all said that Lutz is who he is because of his quirky and strange sense of humor.

Amanda said that she and Lutz share this sense of humor because “it is a Lutz family trait.”

Like his sense of humor, Lutz, Alec, Debbie and Amanda also shared the idea that Lutz has a poor relationship with his father.

“One day he just decided he didn’t really like the way I did things. One day he told me that I’m not going to be successful,” said Lutz. “I’ve asked him if he thought I was a bad son and he said, ‘You don’t want to know my opinion of you.’”

Lutz said that he used to have a better relationship with his father, but they started having a bad relationship when he started high school.

Although Lutz said that his relationship problems with his father don’t bother him, Amanda said, “I think their relationship does bother him [Lutz] deep down, but he only shows his anger on the outside. I think it’s hard for him to talk about.”

“I think a lot of the problem is that they’re more alike than they realize. They butt heads often,” Debbie said. “They both are covering up hurt feelings and they have a problem communicating.” She also added, “I know my husband loves and supports Kurt, but it’s hard for him to show it because they’re both so stubborn.”

Alec shared that Lutz has had a difficult time with his running and school careers because of his poor relationship with his father. “He’s thought about quitting school and running because it’s difficult to go out and run and do stuff when you have to come home to a crappy home situation.”

Alec said that he overcomes it by “staying focused on his morals and what’s important.”

“He is the straightest guy I know. He doesn’t participate in anything bad like drinking and partying,” Alec added. “He is strong and has taught me a lot about sticking to your morals.”

Lutz said that he doesn’t see kids or marriage for him in the future, but he does see a job in environmental science.

“I want to work on resource management and try to make what we do more sustainable. I think that we’re basically depleting our resources, and we are going to run out someday. We need to find different ways to use what we have on the earth right now.”

Debbie said that Lutz has always been interested in environmental science, “Since he was a little kid he has always been interested in recycling. He was always the one to make us separate our trash for recycling.”

Lutz also remembers being interested in recycling, “When I was really little I cried about having to throw stuff away. I knew it [the trash] was going to a landfill and I felt bad for it.”

“I just genuinely care about our environment and our planet. I just want to put my career into that,” said Lutz. Laughing, he added, I’m not a tree hugger, well maybe I am. I pat them on the back.”

Diosdado said, “He’s really a guy to look up to. I’m proud of Kurt and the improvements he’s made over the past season.”

Whether it’s getting better grades, getting healthier or working on his relationship with his father, Lutz has had to overcome obstacles over the last year that have made him the runner and the person that he is today.

In the future, Lutz doesn’t see running playing as big of a role in his life as it does now. He said that he’ll still run, but will have to make time for it.

For now, running still remains the biggest part of his life. Lutz will compete again at the WSC Finals on Tuesday at Ledbetter Park in Santa Barbara at 3 p.m.