Trent Smith

Trent Smith, an alum of Charles City High School and NIACC, was killed in a car accident on Aug. 9, 2016. He was NIACC's first male all-American cross country runner. 

NIACC courtesy photo

MASON CITY | The first Trent Smith Invitational will be held at the NIACC campus on Friday.

It is awesome that NIACC is hosting its own cross country invitational on the very spectator friendly course that goes around the softball and soccer fields on the NIACC campus.

Nine men’s teams plus a NIACC alumni team and 10 women’s teams plus the Lady Trojan alumni will compete in the first-year event.

What is not so awesome is the fact that we are calling it the Trent Smith Invitational. Don’t get me wrong, Trent deserves to have a race named after him.

His accomplishments speak for themselves.

The not so terrific part is that we are naming races after him now. It should be the year 2077 when that honor occurred, not 2017.

Trent’s name is also on the Charles City high school meet that was held in August.

Trent was tragically killed in a car accident on Aug. 9, 2016.

We shouldn’t be naming races after 23-year olds. It goes without saying — that is much, much too young.

Trent, who was a standout runner at Charles City High, ran cross country and track and field at NIACC from 2012-14. He was the school’s first male cross country all-American in 2011 when he placed 11th at the national meet in Hobbs, New Mexico. 

When working at the Globe Gazette, I interviewed Trent after he placed eighth at the Class 3A state meet in his senior season.

“All I ever wanted since I was a freshman in high school was to get up on the balcony,” he told me. “I was overcome with emotion. I was so excited.”

Trent had a passion for running and for life. I was only at NIACC for one of Trent’s two years but I could tell in that year that everybody loved Trent.

On the bib of the runners that will compete in Friday’s race is a drawing of Smith that was taken from a photo of Trent at the 2011 national meet.

It’s a perfect picture of Trent with the classic Trent Smith tilt of the head. If you ever watched Trent run, his head was always tilted a bit to the right and the chin to the left.

NIACC coach Curtis Vais and myself have talked several times about that photo and Trent’s head tilt when running. Like coach says “that was just his style.”

Trent definitely had his own style.

Another photo that I will never forget is one I took of the NIACC men’s cross country team, led by Trent’s fourth-place finish, after winning the NJCAA Region XI title in Marshalltown in 2012. Trent is in the back row with one of those stocking caps with the strings hanging down.

It was a cold and windy day to run that day, but the awards were inside and handed out well after the race was over, but Trent was still sporting his unique stocking cap.

Like coach Vais says, Trent definitely had his own style.

So Friday, we will run the first Trent Smith Invitational on the NIACC campus and honor and remember one of the greatest runners in school history and a great, great person as well.

Kirk Hardcastle is sports information director at NIACC.

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