Short and skinny, Larry Cuzzort often trailed the rest of the field by 50 yards or more as a freshman at Central High School.
“He always came in last in distance races,” said Jon Siau, then an assistant at North who became the Huskies’ head coach a year later.
But Cuzzort grew into his role, helping usher a golden era of dominant Southern Indiana Athletic Conference long-distance runners.
“He just got into it,” Siau said. “He went on to become an all-America runner at Western Kentucky (University). He set the tone for (local) elite runners.”
Cuzzort, 63, passed away from COVID-19 complications at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis on Feb. 20. The visitation and funeral was last Saturday. He resided in Carmel.
“Larry was so kind and gracious,” said Adam Renfro, who followed in Cuzzort’s footsteps in distance-running excellence. “He returned to Central several times to host training camps for us. He wrote to me numerous times while I was in high school, encouraging me to…well, break his records. He also helped WKU recruit me, but I ultimately went to IU.
“But to watch Larry run…man, the guy was poetry. ‘Efficient’ isn’t the right word. ‘Beautiful’ is what he was. Every race a poem. My heart goes out to his family.”
A 1976 Central graduate, Cuzzort set the school’s one- and two-mile records. He was a four-time NCAA Division I All-American (two in cross country, one in the indoor 2-mile, one in the outdoor 5,000 meters) at Western Kentucky. In 1979 and ’80, Cuzzort was named the Ohio Valley Conference Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year while also earning OVC Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year in ’79. He was also named to the OVC All-Half-Century Track and Field team.
Running for Mason-Dixon AC in 1980, Cuzzort was on a team that won the United States Cross Country Championships. In 1982, he ran a 7:52.74 in the 3,000 meters. Larry would go on to run professionally for the famous Sub 4 Track Club, where he set the American 15K road record.
Idolizing Cuzzort growing up, Renfro won the 3,200 meters at the state track and field meet running for Central in 1980. North’s David Williams, who later ran for Purdue, won the state 3,200 in ’81. Mater Dei’s Jim Kaiser, who later ran for Kentucky, won the state 3,200 in ’87.
It all began with Cuzzort, who set the tone.
After graduating from WKU with a degree in Computer Science, Cuzzort had a successful career in Information Technology, first co-founding Computing Solutions in Evansville and later with companies such as Brown & Williamson, Covance, Gilead Sciences and BCforward. He earned an MBA from Bellarmine University.
Contact Gordon Engelhardt at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @EngGordon