Hello, My Name Is: Charlie Vater

Hello, My Name Is: Charlie Vater
Published: Nov. 6, 2023 at 9:05 PM CST
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Iola, Wis. (WSAW) — Confidence can do a lot for a runner.

Iola-Scandinavia’s Charlie Vater has rarely lacked confidence. The senior recently won gold in Division 3 at the WIAA State Cross Country meet, his first cross country state title. The moment followed one of the most difficult losses of his young career.

Vater entered his junior season with the goal of being a two-time state champion. To do so, he needed to win the state title the fall of his junior season in 2022.

“I thought I was on track to do it. I was running pretty well throughout the season,” Vater said.

However, midway through the season, an injury set Vater back for two weeks. When he returned, he didn’t take a hit physically, but mentally. For the first time in his career, his confidence was not there.

“When I got to state, I was running scared rather than running to win,” Vater said. “I kind of knew it was over.”

Vater finished 11th, not even on the podium. He used a reset in the winter by competing in Nordic skiing, racing back on the track in the spring with a recharged mindset.

”I went from having no confidence at the end of cross country to rebuilding it,” Vater said. “Once I got to track, I was ready to go.”

Instead of running to lose, Vater tore through the state. He won state titles in the one mile and two mile races at track for his first two gold medals in his career.

”It was completely different from feeling at the lowest,” Vater said. “I was the first one to cross the line and it was unbelievable.”

The confidence and swagger returned. He returned to the WIAA State Cross Country meet this season and crossed the line 12 seconds faster than second place. It was the fourth fastest time in Division 3 boys history.

”It definitely did bring more confidence,” Vater said. “To do it again and not be like a fluke in track season”

Vater now has three state titles in hand. His confidence is back, and he’s aiming to finish his high school career as a five-time state champion.