When Hunter Petrik graduated from Mount St. Joseph in the spring of 2018, he was one of the state's top distance runners in the class. A four-year runner who had led the Gaels to numerous conference titles and a MD/DC Private School state championship took the next step in his running career by committing to the U.S. Naval Academy, one of Maryland's top distance programs.
It was there that Petrik unknowingly developed, and then struggled with, an eating disorder that would eventually cause more harm mentally than it did physically. Despite initial success (Petrik ran 25:03 and 15:21 in the 8k and 5k, respectively, as a sophomore) Petrik found himself wrestling internally with the inevitable realization that his passion for the only sport he had known since ninth grade had dissipated.
Petrik kept his own struggles a secret, until an old teammate pointed out his changed appearance. Combined with a loss of strength and a growing apathy toward the sport, the disorder was enough to force him to make the difficult decision to leave the team and accept the fact that he needed help from others.
Now a student at the University of Maryland, Petrik reached out to MileSplit in hopes of providing both a source of hope and clarity to many high school- and college-age athletes going through similar ordeals. In our interview, Petrik details the journey throughout his freshman and sophomore seasons and the decisions that ultimately led him down the wrong path. We hope that our conversation can help athletes, coaches and parents alike identify signs of eating disorders and summon the courage to address problems with an understanding of exactly what it's like to go what he did.