Lincoln-Way East’s Kyndall Wallace up for seven-event challenge of heptathlon

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The definition of heptathlon doesn’t roll off the tongue, not even for a runner.

“I had to look it up, I wasn’t sure,’’ Kyndall Wallace said with a smile. “Once I saw it, it really sparked my interest because it’s so many different things.’’

For Wallace, a Lincoln-Way East junior and a member of the Aurora Flyers Track Club, the seven events that make up the heptathlon — 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter dash, long jump, javelin and 800-meter run — are an ever-changing challenge.

“You never get bored with it,’’ she said. “It’s not 800 practice every single day, like I was used to. It’s 800 practice one day and then go to javelin after. Or high jump practice, then go to sprints practice. Or shot put and javelin on one day.’’

Wallace has won numerous relay medals running for two-time Class 3A state champion Lincoln-Way East as well as individual awards competing for the Flyers, but she is a relative newcomer to the heptathlon.

This is her first full summer of competition in the event, which culminates with the AAU Junior Olympic Games July 22 to Aug. 2 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

In the recent Region 13 qualifying meet at Northern Illinois, Wallace won the javelin throw, placed second in the shot put, 200 and 800, and took third overall in her 15-16 age group.

“I love competing in it,’’ she said. “I don’t get the amount of anxiety that I get before my 800. I’m more calm and I feel more confident. Everybody is in the same boat. Everybody’s going through the same events.’’

“I think Kyndall can do whatever Kyndall puts her mind to,’’ her mother, Kimberly, said. “She always has, always. When she was just a toddler, before she could even walk, she never wanted help with anything. … She pushes herself. She motivates herself.’’

Valuable help with heptathlon training on the Flyers comes from Neuqua Valley senior Maya Neal and Maryland-bound Peyton Wade, who helped Aurora Christian win the Class 1A state title this year.

Neal was the AAU national runner-up in the heptathlon last year in the 17-18 age group, and Wade tied for fourth.

“It really pushes me and shows me that I can do it. It makes me feel capable,’’ Wallace said of working with Neal and Wade. “It’s nice getting pointers from them and strategy during the heptathlon and technique tips.’’

Wallace said her best heptathlon events are the 800, javelin and the 200. She’s working to improve technique and form in the hurdles, her weakest event.

The busy summer workout schedule includes trips to the College of DuPage for hurdles training, Flyers practice at East Aurora High School and weightlifting at Lifetime Fitness in Orland Park.

That’s a big change from her childhood.

“My mom, since I was little, she’s been trying to get me to run, but I always said no,’’ Wallace said. “Whenever I’d be playing at the playground, I was pretty fast. People would always comment on it.’’

Running track started in sixth grade for Wallace at Hickory Creek Junior High in Frankfort.

Making the jump from junior high to the challenging program at Lincoln-Way East wasn’t easy, but it’s been rewarding.

“At first it was really rough because I wasn’t used to that intensive practice and the working out,’’ Wallace said. “But it helped get me more mentally tough.’’

With that came a willingness to take on the heptathlon.

“There’s a lot of scholarship opportunities in it,’’ she said. “That’s the goal, to get better and to get a scholarship.’’

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