When Emily Schilling first approached Indian Creek girls soccer coach Luke Anderson and track coach Dane Bell about doing both sports last spring, the two coaches decided to do something unusual.
They didn’t force her to declare a primary sport or commit to being at one sport’s practices every single day.
Instead, they put the decisions in her hands, only offering advice on what games or meets might mean more if there were conflicts.
“Early in the year, Dane and I let her choose. We don’t really try to pull her,” Anderson said. “She can come to a game and I’m happy to see her or she can go to meet and I understand.”
After getting used to the two-sport schedule as a freshman, Schilling flourished in both sports this spring as a sophomore.
She was the soccer team’s’ leading goal scorer and helped lead the Timberwolves to the program’s first regional championship in school history. In track, she qualified for the Class 1A state meet in the 800 and 1,600 and advanced to Saturday’s finals in both events on Thursday, running personal bests of 2:23.80 and 5:22.74.
Although Indian Creek doesn’t have a fall cross country team, Schilling built up a solid base on her own, running in several meets for Northern Illinois Athletics Running Club. The difference was obvious to Bell early on this year.
She put in a ton of mileage over the summer, through the fall,” Bell said. “She came in, first meet …she’s running 5:40 right off the bat indoors just off her endurance training.”
Schilling’s times consistently dropped as the season progressed and she was part of a school-record six individuals to qualify for the state meet at the Class A Seneca Sectional.
Many distance runners who qualify in two events end up choosing to focus on one down at state. But Schilling and Bell are thinking long term, even if she doesn’t end up on the medal stand on Saturday.
“Being that she’s a sophomore, running them both this year is going to be a huge benefit looking further down the line,” Bell said.
Varying experience: Genoa-Kingston and Sycamore each qualified two entries for today’s 2A state preliminaries, but the experience levels of the athletes could not be more different.
G-K junior Brianna Kramer (300 hurdles) and senior Danielle Neisendorf (high jump) have both been to the state meet before as Kramer quaified as a freshman while Neisendorf has been all four years in high school, becoming the first G-K girls track athlete to do so.
Sycamore sophomore Lilia Edwards battled through a heel injury to qualify in the triple jump while the Spartans’ 4x100 relay team of freshman Lauren Goff and juniors Briana Iwans, Hannah Gross and Christina Dailey had everything come together at the sectional meet. All five Sycamore girls are competing in Charleston for the first time.
Brown’s title chances: DeKalb senior Jasmine Brown enters today’s preliminary round as one of the favorites in both the long jump and triple jump.
Brown’s personal-best mark of 18-11.5 in the long jump at last week’s sectional puts her as the No. 3 seed, less than three inches behind the top sectional jump. In the triple jump, Brown’s mark of 39-3.25 is more than a foot better than the second-best sectional jump.
The senior has had her eye on breaking 19 feet in the long jump and 40 feet in the triple jump all season and, if she does so this weekend, it might just be enough to earn her a state title, or two.