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(Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com)
Marengo’s Katie Adams – the Northwest Herald Girls Cross County Runner of the Year – did not lose a race all season until the state meet, where she finished ninth after turning her right ankle so badly that after the race she needed assistance walking.

Putting in the extra mileage or effort never has been a problem for Marengo runner Katie Adams.

If anything, Adams sometimes ran too much.

“Early on (in high school), she didn’t know what it was like to take time off,” Marengo girls cross country coach R.J. Meyer said. “She would train seven days a week, year-round. She never took recovery days.”

As part of the natural learning process, Adams figured something out last year, that it was OK to occasionally take a day off. She realized that giving herself time to recover was as important as the other parts of preparation.

Adams, who had been one of the area’s best runners, made another noticeable jump. She won the Class 2A 1,600 meters in the track season, carried that over to a strong summer of training and was almost unbeatable in cross country.

The Indians senior did not lose a race until the IHSA cross country state meet. There, she finished ninth, which was remarkable given that 400 meters into the race she turned her right ankle so badly that after the race she needed assistance to walk.

It was a disappointing finish to what could have been a perfect season – Adams beat Kaneland’s Victoria Clinton, the Class 2A state champ, by 15 seconds in the Belvidere Sectional. Still, Adams was dominant until that point, which is why she is the Northwest Herald Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, selected by the sports staff with input from area coaches.

Woodstock’s Maura Beattie, Cary-Grove’s Talia Duzey, Crystal Lake Central’s Sami Staples and Jacobs’ Lauren Van Vlierbergen join Adams on the first team. The second team is Marengo’s Kitty Allen and Allie Sprague, Jacobs’ Sam Baran, Central’s Maddie Dagley and McHenry’s Lauren Opatrny.

“Going into the season, I set some really high goals for myself,” Adams said. “Since last December, I really changed my training. The track season proved to me things worked, and I took that motivation and confidence into the cross country season. I could tell myself, ‘I’m capable of doing these things. My goals are possible.’ I was smart and gave my body the rest it needed. I stayed healthy and made sure I took care of my body. I just had one bad race in an awesome season.”

Marengo finished fifth as a team with 174 points, two behind Montini and Glenbard South. Had Adams not injured her ankle, she likely would have won state and the Indians probably would have taken third place.

“She was pretty upset – she went through the entire season injury-free and did everything right to be a state champion,” Meyer said. “It was just a little bit of bad luck. It’s nobody’s fault. She had a phenomenal year, she broke a lot of her own course records. Everywhere she went, it wasn’t like she was just barely winning.”

Adams was pleased on Nov. 11 when she ran in the Nike NXN Midwest Regional meet in Terre Haute, Ind., with high school teammates Kitty Allen and Katie St. Clair. She placed 15th and beat some of Illinois’ top Class 3A runners. She is looking at colleges and has narrowed her choices to Iowa, Iowa State and Minnesota.

“Unfortunately, my one bad race was at the state meet,” Adams said. “I couldn’t really change that. I had to accept it. I got back to training again and got 15th overall at the Nike race. I was happy with my results, I beat some outstanding 3A girls. It was the first time I’ve been able to run against some of those girls.”

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