Evan Jager of Algonquin, Olympic medalist.
Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
We’ll find out this afternoon if the 2007 Jacobs High School graduate can pull off what was to many unimaginable just six months ago or so.
Jager will run about 3:25 p.m. local time today in the 3,000-meter steeplechase finals of the 2012 Olympic Games. If he finishes in the top three, he’ll join two others on the medal stand and have a beautiful gold, silver or bronze medallion placed around his neck. That and a special memory that no one will be able to take from him, ever.
Such a possibility would have been unthinkable just a half year ago because Jager at that point had never competed in the event.
In finishing second in his qualifying heat in the preliminaries Friday, he completed what was just his sixth steeplechase event ever.
While you probably won’t be able to watch him run live on any of the family of NBC TV stations, you can view it at www.nbcolympics.com. Buffalo Wild Wings in Algonquin also is having a viewing party.
Medal or not, Jager’s unlikely run to the Olympics has been a fun story to tell.
Of course, Jager’s not new to running, nor to our Sports pages. In fact, he was a regular in our newspaper back when he was winning four state titles, three in track and one in cross country.
And Northwest Herald senior sportswriter Joe Stevenson’s moving piece Thursday about Jager’s father is another fascinating part of the story. Joel Jager contracted polio when he was young, leaving his left leg severely paralyzed. He never was able to run.
“That was a big part of why I enjoy running so much,” Evan told Stevenson. “Seeing the amount of joy it brought to him seeing me do well kind of kept me motivated to keep trying to do better.”
We wish Evan Jager the best of luck in this afternoon’s race.
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Double the fun: Jager’s not the only McHenry County native with a decent shot at a medal in the Olympics.
Crystal Lake native and 2000 Prairie Ridge High School graduate Amy LePeilbet has been an anchor of the U.S. women’s soccer team’s defense since last year’s World Cup.
After sweeping through Olympics group play with three straight wins, LePeilbet and company easily dissected New Zealand in the quarterfinals Friday. They next play Canada on Monday in the semifinals. A win there and they’re in the gold medal match.
Having two McHenry County natives medal in a single Games would be extraordinary.
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Red, white and yahoo! Yes, I’m dedicating all of this space today to the Olympics, I suppose. What can I say ... I’ve got the fever.
Watching the U.S. women’s gymnastics team storm to a gold medal last week for the first time since 1996 brought back great memories for me – memories of that 1996 Games in Atlanta.
I’m lucky enough to say that I was in the building when injured American gymnast Kerri Strug nailed her vault on the landing, securing the first-ever team gold for the U.S.
At the time, I was working for a newspaper company that sent a team of journalists to Atlanta to cover athletes from the chain’s markets.
Earlier in the day, I covered Kurt Angle’s gold-medal-winning heavyweight wrestling match. Many might know Angle from his days in the WWE, when he “performed” wrestling on shows such as “Monday Night Raw.”
After I filed my story, I realized the women’s finals were just getting started at a nearby venue, so I wandered over.
I’ve been to dozens of professional sporting events in my life. Playoff baseball games. NFL games. The Sugar Bowl. World Cup soccer matches, including a quarterfinal game there.
Nothing comes close to matching the electricity in the Georgia Dome that night.
I hope Jager, LePeilbet and all of the athletes competing for their countries get to experience some of that magic.
• Dan McCaleb is senior editor of the Northwest Herald. He can be reached at 815-526-4603, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.