Photo By Nolan P. Schmidt
The 2010 census listed the population of Jud, North Dakota, at 72. The 2019 estimated population of the southeastern hamlet stands at 70 people.
Sophomore Isaac Huber was one of those 72 people counted in 2010. So when Huber decided to attend NDSU to run cross country and track & field, Fargo seemed as big as any major metropolitan area in the United States. Huber even admits that some of his classes at NDSU featured more people than he had ever seen at once.
While that can come as a shock to some, Huber was undeterred by the eye opening experiences Fargo brought. A decorated Class B runner, Huber won six state championships in various events throughout his junior and senior seasons. Due to Jud’s size, Huber attended high school at EdgeleyKulm High School, about 30 miles from Jud. Huber also won a cross country state title his senior season as well.
He carried on succeeding in his first season at NDSU. He was second-team All-Summit League in cross country last season after finishing 13th at the conference meet. Huber also finished in the conference’s top ten in the mile and 3000-meter in his first indoor season.
While Jud still holds a key place in Isaac Huber’s heart, he is looking to further his running success at North Dakota State.
What do you think instills the hard work ethic seen throughout small towns in North Dakota?
The biggest thing is that we’re not like the bigger schools and we don’t necessarily go to the big meets. Occasionally, we’ll be able to go those big meets, but in Class B North Dakota, you kind of have to work with what you’re given. There are going to be some really bad days and really good days, but you have to take personal responsibility to succeed. You’re at the bottom of the totem pole and you have to keep working hard and finding joy in that.
How much did growing up in a small town mean to you, especially when you made the choice to attend NDSU?
It means a lot. Growing up, they always said it takes a village to raise a child. I grew up living on a farm and representing a really small school, I had 20 kids in my graduating class, where you know everyone and their families. So once I committed to NDSU, I had so many texts, calls and emails saying how happy people were for me. I was staying close to home. People truly care in a small town and here at NDSU. That’s really nice because it gives NDSU that family feel that a small town has.
Jud is a town of 70 or so people. Fargo has close to 125,000 people living in it. Was coming here eye-opening or challenging at all?
It was definitely a change. The biggest thing for me was the school. There were more people in one area than I’ve ever seen in my life. You learn to adapt to that and take advantage of what you can. It’s important to find resources that help and that made it not as big of a jump. It definitely had its challenges though.
Where have you seen yourself improve over the past year?
Coming in as a freshman, I had some goals and some injuries took those to the side a bit. Now, with COVID-19 happening and whatnot, I’m trying to get better every day. It’s going to be an uphill battle. We don’t know if we’ll have a season or not, so it’s important to come in each day and try to get better. We have to trust that all the work we’ve been putting in is going to pay off in the end.
Growing up in small-town North Dakota, was NDSU always the goal for you? Did you always want to attend here?
When I was in elementary school, I wanted to play basketball here. Then I never grew after sixth grade and found running. I had some guys ahead of me like Alex Bartholomay and Elliott Stone, who are Class B guys that made it big at NDSU. I thought that if they could do it, coming from middle-of-nowhere North Dakota, then I could too. I really have to thank those guys for paving the way. It’s up to me now to keep their legacy going on.
The track & field program has numerous athletes from Class B schools. Why do you think Class B kids continue to come here and how do they continue to succeed at NDSU?
The coaching staff here is top-notch and some of the best in the nation. They don’t look for the flashiest athletes all the time, but they look for the athletes that will come in and do work. That way, when they’re ready to compete, they compete at a high level. The Class B kids just work hard, but that’s how we were raised. Whether it’s competing or waking up and getting your chores done, we just do it.
A lot of things are still up in the air as far as your seasons go. What are some goals you have set for yourself this season?
The biggest goal for me is to try and make a national meet in the steeplechase. That is my top goal, but I want to get some conference titles too. We want to have some more team success as well. We have a really good team here and continuing our dominance is important. Individual awards will come along the way, but it’s all about getting those team awards.