LAKE FOREST — There’s an old saying that life is less about what happens to someone and more about how a person responds to circumstances.
Connor Adams is living that axiom this spring.
For much of the 2013 season, the Lake Forest senior was the lead anchor on the Scouts’ 4×100-meter relay team. But he couldn’t shake a nagging hamstring injury. Just before the NSC meet, he was replaced by Scott Powell.
Caught off-guard by the move, Adams said he didn’t handle the situation well.
“I had never been taken off a team like that before,” Adams said. “At first, I was immature about it. I kind of looked at it as if everyone was out to get me.”
With Powell, the Scouts broke the 4×100 school record at sectionals and ran at the Class 3A state meet (finishing 13th).
“I had to make a tough decision as a coach. It turned out to be the right one,” Scouts coach John Brumund-Smith said.
Now, almost a year later, Adams has gained perspective. Rather than be consumed by self-pity, he’s repurposed those emotions into a more productive endeavor: being the best track athlete he can be.
Adams has regained his spot in the 4×100 relay. He, along with seniors Austin McIlvaine, Jack Blumeyer and Graham Weinberger, ran a winning time of 43.5 seconds in Lake Forest’s home triangular win over Libertyville and Mundelein in late April. That was shy of last season’s school record of 42.67, but a repeat trip to Charleston is well within Lake Forest’s sights. Adams also runs a leg in the team’s 4×200 relay with Blumeyer, senior Robert Schyns and sophomore Quinn Julian.
“We have a lot of sprinters,” Brumund-Smith said. “In a sense, it’s a great problem.”
But it’s in the long jump where the 5-foot-9, 165-pound Adams is separating himself from the field.
As an eighth-grader in 2010, he finished first in the Illinois Elementary School Association Class 8AA state competition with a jump of 20 feet, 3 inches. Until this season, Adams had only bested that leap by four inches. But at the Warren Invitational in April, he blew right past his personal best of 20-7 with a jump of 21-9.5.
“It’s been a long way to 21 [feet]. I’ve been my correcting my form for the last three years,” Adams said.
There are two techniques most used in long jump. One is the hitch, where a jumper kicks his legs in a cycling motion when in the air. The other is the hang.
“You bring both your arms over your head, in one full motion, as opposed to flapping [in a hitch jump],” Adams said.
The hang technique is what Adams used at Warren and what he plans to use the rest of the season, including the conference meet and state series.
One year since his removal from an eventual state-qualifying relay team, Adams now pictures himself at the state meet in Charleston later this month, sprinting down the track with his relay teammates.
And if he’s also making long jumps for the Scouts, he’ll be proving he was right in taking a leap of faith in himself.
“I learned to never get down on yourself on something that is out of your control,” Adams said. “It really brought out a good side of me.”