Keven Huang ready to pack up with Hinsdale Central teammates
Chicago, 09/20/12--The first runner to finish was Hinsdale Central's Ryan Somerfield, followed by his teammates Kevin Huang and Billy Magnesen. Oak Park River Forest High School hosted a boys cross country meet with Hinsdale Central and Glenbard West Thursday afternoon at Schiller Woods Forest Preserve. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 28, 2012 6:36AM
CHICAGO — Hinsdale Central runner Kevin Huang spent this summer running 60 miles per week in preparation for the current cross country season.
But then, right before the beginning of the school year, Huang was hit with the worst illness of his life. The Hinsdale Central junior missed an entire week of cross country training with a sky-high fever and the chills.
Once the illness subsided, Huang returned to cross country and quickly came to the sobering realization that all of the work he did during the summer might have been wiped away.
“That week after, when I tried to come back to running, it was tough for me to even run six miles,” Huang said. “For some reason my endurance was gone. It was really strange because the entire summer I’d been training hard and putting in miles and miles each week — putting in 60 miles a week — and suddenly I can barely run four. I was like, ‘Oh geez, my season’s almost completely ruined.’
“The coaches, they had great faith in me. They told me that you’ll slowly get back. Each week and each meet, I’ve been progressing and getting better.”
Although Huang’s road to recovering his full strength and endurance has been longer than he had hoped, the junior feels he is finally back to 100 percent. Affirmation came on Sept. 20 at Schiller Woods when Huang was able to compete with teammates Ryan Somerfield and Billy Magnesen, who have been the Red Devils’ two best runners for the first month of the season.
Huang finished second — one place behind Somerfield and one place in front of Magnesen — in a three-team meet against Oak Park-River Forest and Glenbard West.
In the aftermath of his illness, Huang received support from Somerfield, Magnesen and Hinsdale Central’s coaching staff. They all reassured him that he would get back to competing alongside Somerfield and Magnesen.
“We were definitely picking him up when he was down, giving him some motivation because, as a runner, we all have those tough times,” Somerfield said. “You don’t always have your best races, so you just look to your teammates to pick you up and that’s what we tried to do — give him encouragement. It was really great to see him (running) with us.”
“I’ve been training with them every day,” Huang added. “Us three, we’ve been doing workouts together. I definitely feel like I should be with them and finally today (Sept. 20), I finished with them.”
Beyond just the personal journey of getting back to full-strength, Huang’s recovery figures to have a big impact on Hinsdale Central’s chance at qualifying for state. Huang, Somerfield and Magnesen give the Red Devils three state-caliber runners who will try to lead the Red Devils back to Peoria over the next five weeks.
Having Huang back at 100 percent “is definitely really important coming up for the postseason,” Somerfield said. “Knowing that we have that third guy really helps our team have confidence that we can perform in the postseason.”~.