Motivation wasn’t hard to come by for Maggie Lalowski over the summer.
The Sycamore senior admittedly had sub-par performances in both her cross country and track seasons last school year. After qualifying for the state cross country meet as a sophomore, Lalow-ski failed to get back in either sport as a junior.
In Sycamore’s track and field sectional final in May, Lalowski finished a mere 0.7 seconds shy of the automatic state qualifying time in the 1,600 meters.
“After such a disappointing, both cross country and track season, I kind of got it clicked into my head that I really wanted to prove to myself that I could actually achieve it,” Lalowski said. “I just wanted to work hard this summer to get the basics for my whole season.”
So Lalowski put in more mileage than she ever has run. It didn’t hurt that her first summer runs were done along Italy’s Amalfi Coast and in the Swiss Alps while she was on a European vacation.
Pushed by a senior-laden team, Lalowski continued to put in the mileage back home. With a solid base over the summer, Lalowski has had her best season to date and is now in position to qualify for the state meet on Saturday at the Class 2A Belvidere North Sectional.
“The team definitely helped her be better and reach this level,” Sycamore coach Adam Bezinovich said. “Coming out in the morning and running in the summer isn’t always easy, but when you have your teammates with you, it’s definitely easier.”
For the time in her career, Lalowski won a couple invitational cross country meets. She took first in the Winnebago Invitational and also won the Rock River Run, the field of which featured a former state champion.
The victories not only gave Lalowski a confidence boost, but also a sense that her running wasn’t only about her.
“It really inspired me to work harder throughout my workouts this season,” Lalowski said. “Our middle schoolers were [at the Rock River Run] and one of them came up to me and was asking me a bunch of questions and it made feel like I was being a leader to these little kids.”
Lalowski finished sixth at the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference meet and then placed 10th at the very competitive Class 2A Burlington Central Regional last weekend.
Sycamore finished seventh as a team, only one point behind Mundelein Carmel for the final team qualifying spot. Lalowski and sophomore Hannah Cerny qualified for Saturday’s sectional as individual entries.
Although her entire team won’t be running with Lalowski on Saturday, they’ll certainly be on her mind.
“It’s sad that my whole team didn’t make it, but I’m grateful that at least one other girl has,” Lalowski said. “I qualified my sophomore year and last year didn’t go as well so I wanted to bring myself back up to that point and prove that I could redo it.”