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DeKalb County track athletes head to Junior Olympics for first time

DeKALB – When the USATF National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships kick off in Greensboro, N.C. next week, the DeKalb County Prairie Runners will be well-represented.

Sycamore’s Jack Cambier, 10, and Cortland’s Ben Lawson, 14, will both travel to compete in the championships for the first time, which are held at North Carolina A&T University. Cambier will be running in the 800-meter race, while Lawson will be competing in the discus. Both qualified with their performances at the Region 7 Track and Field Championships in Kankakee last weekend.

Sycamore rising junior Lilia Edwards will also compete at nationals in the javelin.

With a time of 2:42.06 at regionals, Cambier finished 5th and qualified for nationals. Although his coaches told him that he ran a good race, he says he could’ve done better. Nevertheless, he is anxious for the upcoming race.

“I feel a little nervous and excited,” says Cambier, who will be a 5th grader in the fall. “I feel excited that I actually get to race in it, and I feel nervous because it’s such a big race.”

Cambier began competing in the 800 last winter, and he enjoys how it combines the nuances of both speed and distance running. As a part of the Prairie Runners, he has become faster through improvement in different facets of running.

He says that Coach Dave Wester has worked with him on technique such as keeping his head still while running long distances, while Coach Claire McAuley has helped to increase his speed and stamina.

“A lot of the time, he’s really pushed it through workouts,” McCauley said. “He’s been tired and exhausted, but he’s still finished the workout. His drive and dedication has really improved since the start of the season. He wants to do well.”

Cambier heads down to Greensboro on Monday with his mom and brother, and he will compete on Wednesday. Despite the prospect of going against runners from all over the country, he has set goals that can only be controlled by himself.

“I want to get [a personal record],” Cambier said, “and I want to do my very best.”

Lawson, who is entering his freshman year at DeKalb, qualified for nationals with a 34.16-meter throw and a 3rd-place finish at regionals. He has been competing in discus ever since he joined the Prairie Runners two years ago.

Through the club, Lawson has become stronger and learned better technique. He says that he practices every single day, whether it is working on his form or lifting weights. His coach, Nate Dyer, a rising senior at Kaneland, is impressed with his work ethic.

“He’s a hard worker,” said Dyer, who took ninth in the shot put at the IHSA Class 2A state championships in May. “He definitely puts his mind to it and does what he’s told. He’s going to take the time.”

Lawson also wrestles and is a lineman for DeKalb, both of which have helped to improve his strength for discus. He will fly down to Greensboro on Monday and, although he is apprehensive, he is also confident.

“I’m just hoping to place,” Lawson says. “I’m a little bit nervous, but overall, I’m excited. I think I’ll do well.”

The Prairie Runners’ Ellie Books, Erik Books, DeShaun Harris, Chantel Kyler, and Emily Schilling also qualified for nationals, but will not participate.

DeKalb rising sophomore Savannah Long also qualified for nationals in the 400 hurdles as part of the Vikings Track Club.

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