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Triathlete Lorenz lifts Jacobs cross country

Competing in triathlons normally is something a person pursues after high school and college.

Alex Lorenz is different. The 14-year-old Jacobs freshman has spent half of her young life training and competing in triathlons. Lorenz is No. 8 in the USA Triathlon rankings for Youth Elite Females (13 to 15) and trains most of the year with Multisport Madness Triathlon Team in Naperville.

Lorenz is taking a break to concentrate on her running with the Jacobs girls cross country team, which has done very well to this point. The Golden Eagles just won Kaneland’s Eddington Invitational on Saturday with 73 points, and Lorenz played an integral part, finishing 15th.

Lorenz hopes the cross country season will make her stronger with running when she resumes triathlon training in the winter.

“Coach [Kevin] Christian looked for me to fill the gap between No. 2 and No. 4, so I’ve tried to do that,” Lorenz said. “I’ve had so much fun.”

Sophomore Lauren Van Vlierbergen and senior Sam Baran usually are Jacobs’ top two runners, with Lorenz third, then junior Kayla Giuliano. The Golden Eagles may challenge Crystal Lake Central for the Fox Valley Conference Invitational Meet title and will try to qualify for the IHSA Cross Country State Meet as a team in Class 3A.

“Alex has been a huge contributor so far as a freshman,” Christian said. “She is an extremely solid third runner, maybe the best third in the conference. She has such a different knowledge base on how to work your entire body that has been beneficial for us all to hear.”

You could say the triathlon is in Lorenz’s DNA. Her father (John) and mother (Tracy) both started competing in their 20s. John was a former college basketball player looking for a competitive outlet. He has competed in the Hawaii Ironman seven times; Tracy has done it five times.

When Lorenz was 7, she won her age group at a triathlon in the Wisconsin Dells and shortly after that, the Lorenzes hooked up with MMTT, which was started by Keith Dickson in 2001. Dickson now coaches with the Elite Triathlon Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“Youth triathlons have grown by leaps and bounds,” John said. “Keith kind of revolutionized the sport and taught other teams how to structure [training] programs.”

Alex’s brother, Justin, also has taken up the sport and won a national competition this year at age 10. Alex raced in the Iron Kids series until she was 13, at which point she graduated to the elite level and competed against girls two years older.

John or Tracy take Alex to Naperville six days a week from November through August for 3 hours a night of training. She often does her homework in the car on the way to and from those workouts.

“Life can get pretty hectic,” Alex said. “It’s taught me time management and life lessons. It’s helped me grow as a person and teaches me hard work and commitment.”

Lorenz aspires to some day land in Colorado Springs and work with Dickson and coach Romas Bertulis, the step-father of former Illinois cross country state champion Lukas Verzbicas, who also won the Pan-American Triathlon Confederation Junior Championships in 2011.

“I really want to do this,” Lorenz said. “I hope I can get [to ETA].”

• Joe Stevenson is the senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at joestevenson@shawmedia.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.

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