Driven to be the best: Harley Moyer ’18 leads cross country program to success

Harley Moyer ’18 began running because he relished the winning aspect of the sport. The competition drove him to accomplish one goal and then attack another. During his career as a W&J President, Moyer won often, on and off the course.

“Originally, I liked to win, I liked to be good at what I did, and I figured out that dedication could get me to those goals,” said Moyer. “Over the years, I began to enjoy the process much more. Now, I really do think I run because I enjoy the act of running, and it has become an important part of my life.”

During his first three years on campus, Moyer built a resume full of tremendous accomplishments. He was twice selected as a Google Cloud Academic All-American and had a 3.93 grade-point average. Moyer was named the 2017 PAC Cross Country Runner of the Year and was a national qualifier in both cross country and track & field. He was also a member of numerous honor societies including Phi Alpha Theta History Society, Pi Delta Phi French Society, Phi Sigma Tau Philosophy Society, and Phi Beta Kappa.

Despite all of those accolades, his focus was on the hurdles he and his teammates had yet to clear. The Presidents had come so close to capturing the first PAC cross country team title in school history in 2017, falling just two points short. Individually, Moyer was one placement and less than a second shy of becoming the first cross country All-American at the NCAA Championships.

The PAC Championship meet became a focus for the team during Moyer’s senior year, led by a new head coach, Derek Workman. W&J had competed at the PAC Championships every year since 1959, but the team title had eluded the Presidents.

That changed Oct. 27. Moyer crossed the line first for a second consecutive year with his time of 26:07 on the soggy 8K course. His teammate, Grant McCarthy ’20, was close behind in fourth at 27:22, while Damon Gall ’22 placed fifth with a time of 27:42 in his first PAC Championship race. Five Presidents placed among the top 12 and W&J won its first-ever conference title by 12 points.

“Harley is very coachable, he listened, he learned from mistakes, and his teammates followed his example because they knew he cared about them,” said Workman, a former All-PAC runner at Thiel College. “Watching him win the conference championship individually, and then immediately turning around and running to a spot to cheer on his teammates until they all finished the race was a pretty special moment for me as a coach.”

Moyer clearly wanted to lead the Presidents to the elusive crown. His season continued with great individual success, but the conference title was a necessary springboard to take the program to new heights and future success.

“Watching this program struggle to reach this point and having us finally win a PAC Championship was a great moment, especially since it was something that we could appreciate as a true team effort,” added Moyer.

Two weeks after the conference championship, Moyer turned his focus to the NCAA Mideast Regional meet. A year removed from a W&J record-setting fourth-place regional finish, Moyer topped his accomplishment by besting the field of 356 runners by a full second. He was the first runner in school history to win a NCAA Regional and was selected as the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Association Mideast Region Athlete of the Year.

“The regional championship was a nice bonus, but for me the most important thing was to qualify for the national meet,” said Moyer. “Winning the meet became more important for me after I turned around and saw my teammate (Grant McCarthy) finished right behind me in 14th. Knowing that our top two runners had compiled such a low point total was important for the team goals we had set out, and I was proud to have been a part of that effort.”

McCarthy’s finish also qualified him for the national championships, marking the first W&J duo to accomplish the feat in the same season.

A total of 280 runners lined up Nov. 17 at the NCAA Division III Championships starting line in Wisconsin. Moyer was determined to become the first men’s cross country All-American in program history. He averaged 4:58 per mile and crossed the finish line 14th with a time of 24:44 to solidify his All-America status and cement his name among the top W&J student-athletes.

“(Becoming an) All-American was something incredibly special for me,” he added. “It’s been my largest long-term goal since the summer before my freshman year of college, and…to finally do what I hadn’t been able to do after so many tries in my last race wearing a Washington & Jefferson uniform is something that I will cherish forever.”

Moyer concluded his studies at W&J in December 2018, completing his academic requirements a semester early. He majored in history, coupled with minors in French and philosophy. His academic achievements are equally as impressive as the ones he accomplished in his running shoes. He was recognized as an Alpha Scholar and claimed multiple academic awards, including the Robert L. ’40 and Connie Ceisler Pre-Law English award, the Henry Willson Temple Prize, the Pete Kimmel Prize, and the Paul L. Reardon Award for student-athlete leadership.

In February, Moyer was awarded a $10,000 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, making him the 17th W&J student-athlete to win the award.