Fleet-footed freshman keeps running
It hasn't taken long for running to overtake the life of De Soto High School freshman Lacey Erickson -- a point never better illustrated than the idea of her strapping on the running shoes Saturday at the Rim Rock Farms cross country course north of Lawrence.
Racing through five kilometers of December's finest freezing temperatures, Erickson set a personal best in the 5K at the National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships, finishing in 21 minutes, 41.60 seconds.
It was Erickson's second race in the National Junior Olympic Circuit, the first coming several weeks before when she qualified for Saturday's race.
"It was really cold," said Erickson, who was 81st in the 145-runner field. "Between (Nov. 17) and now, I cut off 15 seconds from my time even though it was below freezing."
Blitzing through the lingering snow and the freezing temperatures proved quite the departure for the freshman. At this time last year, Erickson was playing basketball, the conditions at Rim Rock the furthest thing from her mind.
She went out for eighth-grade track at Lexington Trails, however, and quickly grew to love it. De Soto High School cross country coach Chris McAfee talked Erickson into going out for the cross country team and hundreds of miles later, she has yet to stop running.
"Coach McAfee saw me run and he wanted me to run cross country, and he kept begging me so I kept running. I ran over the summer and I like it a lot," Erickson said.
Erickson proved to be one of the top runners on the fall's cross country team, leading the Cats to a second-place finish at Class 4A state cross country meet. She was the team's top finisher in the race, earning a medal for her 10th-place performance on the four-kilometer state course.
She hasn't quit and has barely even slowed down, despite the addition of an extra kilometer for the extra competitions.
"I hadn't really trained for a couple weeks in between because of the musical," she admitted. "It was a last minute thing."
Saturday's race marked the last competitive event Erickson plans on running until track season. She said she's not likely to ditch the running shoes any time soon, however.