SPOTLIGHT ON ...
Sycamore, junior Millburg finished 16th in the Peoria First to the Finish Invite last weekend, right behind senior Mark Stice, and is one of the reasons Sycamore is ranked No. 15 in Class 2A.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Sycamore, DeKalb at Kaneland Eddington Invite, 9 a.m. today at Elburn Woods After battling it out in Peoria last week, all three area boys teams will run together again in Elburn. Kaneland’s girls team was in Wauconda last weekend, so the Knights will host Sycamore and DeKalb at their home course.
POWER RANKINGS (BOYS)
1. Mark Stice, sr., Sycamore 2. Adam Millburg, jr., Sycamore 3. Kyle Carter, sr., Kaneland 4. Nathaniel Kucera, sr., Kaneland 5. Ryan Bower, sr., Kaneland 6. Luis Acosta, sr., Kaneland 7. Isaac Hietanen, sr., DeKalb 8. Kendryck Rand, sr., Sycamore 9. Paul Fielder, jr., DeKalb 10. Jordan Peterson, sr., Sycamore
NOTEBOOK: Peoria invite big success for Spartans
Last weekend’s Peoria First to the Finish Invite went about as smooth as it could for the Sycamore boys team, coach Mike Lambdin said.
“We went there to get experience on the state course and practice our routine,” Lambdin said. “We wanted to finish in the top 10, and we were able to achieve all three of them.”
Sycamore finished ninth as a team and was paced by senior Mark Stice (13th) and junior Adam Millburg (16th). The duo gives the Spartans a good 1-2 punch as only three of the invite’s 52 teams featured a faster pair of top two runners.
Although Millburg is a year younger, Lambdin said he’s been able to follow Stice’s path and it’s made both of them better runners.
“[Millburg’s] progression has been very comparable to Mark’s. If you look at Adam’s freshman times, sophomore times, they are right there about where Mark’s were,” Lambdin said. “The two of them have a very similar work ethic. Both of them will get out there and log their miles whether it’s the heat of summer or frigid in winter.”
More finish-line trouble DeKalb’s Kelsey Schrader just can’t escape race drama. Luckily, this time she wasn’t involved. In the girls Class 2A race at the Peoria First to the Finish Invite last weekend, Schrader finished fourth, but the action came in front of her.
In a battle for first place, Riverside-Brookfield’s Malin Struck pulled away in the final stretches from Woodstock’s Maura Beattie. Yet Struck made a wrong turn in the last 400 meters, allowing Beattie to win. Struck finished third, just ahead of Schrader, who had made a wrong turn herself while leading a race a week before.
VIEWS: Soccer-cross country crossover tradition continues
Sycamore boys cross country coach Mike Lambdin said he thinks it all started with Tony Trott in 2000.
About 13 years ago, Trott was the first Sycamore boys athlete to try running cross country and play soccer in the same fall season. Tony’s younger brother, Brad, followed in his footsteps, and a tradition was born.
Since the Trott brothers started the two-sport pattern, many Sycamore athletes have followed their path.
“The earlier guys that did it had some success, both on the soccer field and on the cross country course,” said Lambdin, who estimates four or five athletes will try it each year. “Because of that, the athletes began to realize, ‘Hey, this is possible to do this.’ ”
This year six cross country runners are particpating in both sports: Kendryck Rand, Adam Millburg, Tanner Yohe, Alex Handel, Ryan Guss and freshman Eric Gilmore. It’s something Lambdin said couldn’t be done without the cooperation of soccer coach Dave Lichamer.
“Dave has been great in working with the cross country team to make this happen,” Lambdin said. “I’m not sure how thrilled other coaches would be to share some of their best athletes, but Dave has always been very supportive.”
Lichamer and Lambdin constantly look at the schedules and monitor their athletes. This weekend, the dual-sport athletes will play in a soccer tournament and forego the cross country invitational at Kaneland.
More than the conflicts between soccer matches and cross country meets, the group often misses crucial practices, many of them essential to retain their running endurance and improve their times as the season progresses. To make up the missed workouts, some of them will come in during the mornings each week and do hard interval runs. This weekend, a group of them will complete their weekly long run after playing their soccer matches today.
Lambdin and Lichamer always are careful in watching their workouts, making sure not to overtrain and run the risk of injury or fatigue. They count on the athletes to be their own coaches at times and change their personal workouts if needed, based on how their legs feel.
“It’s a lot of management in terms of time, rest, the boys have to eat right,” Lambdin said. “I think initially everyone was concerned about the stress it would cause. We had a couple guys step up and handle it. That put a lot of people’s minds at ease and gave other boys the confidence to try it.”
Sycamore won a state cross country championship in 2007 and took second in the boys soccer state tournament in 2004.
The success of the dual-sport athletes might have even inspired others to try a different path. Eric Aurand, a runner on the sophomore team, also is playing golf this year. Hopefully, he’s not running from tee to green.
The success of the soccer-cross country crossover might have even inspired a new pattern.
• Ross Jacobson is the sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.