Sycamore girls track and field coach Joe McCormick calls Lilia Edwards “a whole new person.”
Edwards, a junior hurdler and jumper, had always showcased the talent to be a top athlete in the state during her first two years. Even after fracturing her heel at last year’s outdoor Northern Illinois Big 12 meet, Edwards still managed to fight through the injury and qualify for state in the triple jump.
But as the indoor season comes to a close, Edwards has displayed a mental toughness that may lead her to a breakout season.
“She is so focused and driven. She’s still a team leader with her voice in the drills and pushing herself. She realizes this is her big year for college recruiting,” McCormick said. “She’s already jumped state qualifying in triple. Her long jump is right on, her hurdles are pretty good. She’s pretty jacked right now and she should be.”
‘Pretty jacked’ comes from winning two individual titles at the indoor conference meet last weekend, claiming victories in the triple jump and 60-meter hurdles to go along with a third-place finish in the long jump.
She’s qualified for the Illinois Top Times meet, the unofficial indoor state championships, in all three events and will compete Saturday in Bloomington. In Class 2A, she’s ranked fifth in the triple jump, ninth in the long jump and 13th in the 60 hurdles.
“I’m really confident going into the outdoor season, especially with where I was last year at the end of track. Indoor to outdoor last year, I’m so much further ahead,” Edwards said. “I’ve already PR’d in long and triple in the indoor season which usually doesn’t happen.”
Like her junior counterpart Dion Hooker on the boys side, Edwards isn’t locked into four clear events that she will compete in come May and the outdoor postseason meets.
While the two jumps and sprint hurdles are set in stone, the last event could come from a number of options, including the open 400, 300 hurdles or potential spots on the 4x400 or 4x200 relays.
“It’s going to depend on a lot of different factors, who’s healthy, how the relays are working,” McCormick said. “There’s a lot at play there. We’re really hopeful for what happens in May.”
Last year’s injury is completely behind Edwards at this point as she went through the summer competing with the DeKalb County Prairie Runners track club in preparation for the indoor season that will end Saturday.
Now she has her eye on getting back to the outdoor state meet – this time in multiple events – and making some history in the process.
“I want to break a couple school records, but we’ll see. The 300 hurdles, I’m trying to get in shape for that,” Edwards said. “The triple jump record is a foot past my PR right now. If I work on my second phase, I can definitely achieve that this year.”