Lyons’ talented junior Katie Hamor had a slow start to each of her first two cross-country seasons.
That won’t be the case in Year Three.
At Saturday’s season-opening Lions Pride Invite, Hamor finished fifth (18:31.19), helping the Lions (41 points) to a convincing victory in the 11-team event. Valparaiso (Ind.) was second with 77 points.
“Normally, it’s about halfway through the season when she starts kicking into gear,” Lyons head coach Stetson Steele said. “This year, she’s way ahead of schedule, which is a huge bonus for us.”
Unlike many of her teammates, Hamor does not run track in the spring, opting instead for the soccer team. Though she trains with the cross-country squad over the summer, Hamor is transitioning from the stop-start of soccer to the sustained pace of cross country.
“I’m a little behind (during the summer) and I have to do some catching up because they’ve been running a lot more than me. So, it’s kind of hard, but I love getting back into things,” Hamor said. “It takes a little longer, but it gets back to normal.”
Hamor said one explanation for her stronger-than-normal start to 2013 is that the Lyons’ summer program was more strenuous than in years’ past.
“We ran a lot more miles this year,” she said. “I went a little harder in the workouts and that has benefitted me. We’ve been pushing each other a lot harder than last year.”
As she continues to make progress as a runner, Hamor said she is considering giving up soccer for track next spring.
“I like soccer, but as I’ve been more successful in cross country, I might consider doing track,” she said. “So, it might be different this year. I’m still undecided, but I’m looking into it a lot more. I think it would benefit me and everyone else on the cross-country team.”
Now, Hamor will be hoping her unlucky season-endings are a thing of the past.
As a freshman, Hamor was diagnosed with a stress fracture just before the IHSA state meet. Last fall, she came down with mononucleosis in the lead-up to state.
“I’m really hoping to run at state (this year),” she said. “I’ve made it for two years, but not been able to run. So, definitely, I want to do that.”
At the Lions Pride Invite, Lyons senior Lexi Rudofski was fourth overall (18:24.98), sophomore Hannah Dutler came in ninth (18:44.24), senior Elaine Smith was 10th (18:50.30) and sophomore Katie Jaramillo finished 13th (18:58.45).
The Lions (77 points) came in third at the 12-team Lions Pride behind Lincoln-Way Central (67) and Sandburg (74). Lyons tied with Maine South, but won the sixth-place tie-breaker.
The Lions score took a hit when senior Dan Lupano fell early and could not complete the race.
“I was about two or three seconds behind (Lupano) and I saw him go down,” Lyons senior Henry Hostettler said. “I thought, ‘You have to step it up for your team at this point.’ You don’t change too much of your race strategy at that point, you just have to stay mentally strong because it’s tough to see a teammate going down.”
Hostettler ended up fourth (15:16.76), senior James Ryan was 11th (15:26.63), senior Ed McCarter came in 17th (15:45.69), senior Kevin Kilrea was 19th (15:47.69) and junior Vince Arata finished 26th (15:56.78).
The Roadrunner girls finished with 189 points and came in seventh at the Lions Pride Invite.
Freshman Claire Ramsey came in 27th (19:44.21) in what essentially was her first full high school cross-country meet.
“(Ramsey) has a lot to learn about racing, but it’s good to have someone that young and that good,” Nazareth girls head coach Joe Wejman said. “We always preach that there is running and there is racing. She’s a great runner, but she has to become a great racer. That will come with time.”
Nazareth sophomore Gianna Levato came in 35th (20:07.12), sophomore Colleen Cavanaugh was 37th (20:10.55) and senior Megan O’Kane was 42nd (20:27.83).
The Nazareth boys only had two runners in the varsity race. Junior Jonathan Bareis was 58th (17:24.69) and junior Austin Brown came in 70th (18:11.71).