Getting over nerves toughest hurdle for Hinsdale South runner Leganski
Western Springs, 10/20/12--Hinsdale South's Sarah Leganski was the first to finish for her team. Lyons Township High School hosted a girls and boys cross country regional meet on Saturday afternoon. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 26, 2012 6:24AM
WESTERN SPRINGS — Sarah Leganski had a worried look on her face during warmups Saturday at the Lyons regional, and her coach Gail Huster knew exactly what was up.
Leganski, Hinsdale South’s top runner, was nervous about not qualifying for state. Last year, Leganski missed the cut by just one spot after finishing 16th at sectionals.
This time, Leganski was extra-nervous about not even making it to sectionals.
“She puts a lot of pressure on herself,” Huster said. “She’s going to be fine. As long as I can keep her under control, she will be OK. Otherwise, she just likes to get really really upset and nervous and scared and doubt herself.”
As it turned out, the sophomore had nothing to worry about.
Her team comfortably made it out of regionals with a fifth-place finish, and Leganski clocked a season-best 18 minutes, 30.18 seconds — a second faster and two spots higher than her ninth-place finish last year. The Hornets advanced to Saturday’s Marist sectional.
“My times haven’t been that great this year; I’ve been running in the 19s,” Leganski said. “I was kind of just going into today hoping that we would move onto sectionals. (Saturday), I was more relaxed, and I was just coming out here to see what I can do.”
Last year, Leganski drove down to Peoria with her mom to watch the state meet but doesn’t want to be a spectator anymore. During the summer, she did some workouts with the boys team for motivation.
“She knows she can run that fast, but she just has to be able to believe in herself,” Huster said. “My job is to keep her healthy and make her believe in herself.”
Boys cross country
Hornets boys coach Jim Dickerson has been in the sport long enough to know his team isn’t state-caliber — yet.
That hasn’t slowed his runners.
“The great thing about this sport is that everyone wants to run a fast time, so they’ve been chasing time goals,” said Dickerson, who was an All-American runner at North Central College.
At the Lyons Regional — where Hinsdale South took seventh and advanced to the Marist sectional — four of his seven runners ran a personal best or close to one.
Junior Jason Arendt (17:26.18) and freshmen Ben Vandenbosch (17:27.28) and Roman Drabchuk (17:32.98) ran together to produce one of their fastest times this season and finish 4-5-6 for the Hornets.
“Our three to seven runners are all somewhat interchangeable, and so they’ve become very competitive with each other, which is perfect,” said the first-year varsity coach. “Not only do they work with each other during the meets, but none of them want to let the other ones go.”
He told his boys that to be competitive, they need to run at least 50 miles per week this winter.
“There was a gasp in the room when I said that,” Dickerson said. “That’s at least what the top teams are doing. Basically, we just need to run a lot, especially in spring and summer. If we could do that, then we’re going to make a huge step next year.”