Marengo girls track and field coach Brian Tveter suggested a bold strategy last year with his distance star Katie Adams.
If Adams held back in the 3,200 meters at the Class 2A Vernon Hills Sectional Meet, she could qualify, but run in the slower heat at the state meet. That would have given Adams an additional two hours of rest to come back and try to double in the 1,600 meters.
Adams likely would not have had another runner pushing her in the slow heat, but Tveter figured she still could run a winning time just on her pace.
Adams decided to play it straight, but irony hit a week later. Freeburg’s Kristen Busch, who had a subpar sectional race, ran a 10:54.74 out of the slow heat. Adams won the fast heat in 10:57.48, so while she crossed the finish line in first, she was Class 2A state 3,200 runner-up.
“I wish [Busch] would have been able to run in the fast heat, it would have been a better race,” said Adams, who exacted her revenge later when she beat Busch by 2.86 seconds in the 1,600 for the state title, even though Busch had the extra rest in temperatures that reached 88 degrees.
Adams and Tveter do not want to change much in their approach this spring. She was strong and dominant last season, then she lost only one race in cross country, the Class 2A State Meet after spraining her right ankle in the first 400 meters.
“If it’s not broke, we don’t need to fix it,” Tveter said.
Adams, a senior who signed with Iowa in February, has the distance double in her sights again.
“It is extremely difficult – not many people do well in both races,” Adams said. “Some people will save some for the other race. To me, I want to go all out at state. It’s exhausting. From last year’s training, I learned what to do and what not to do. There’s a lot more strength and endurance training. I was prepared and ready to go.”
Adams will take a run at both races Saturday in the Illinois Prep Top Times Indoor Classic at Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington.
“She’s in a good place [with her training],” Tveter said. “I could tell she was pretty bummed after cross country, but she put it aside and refocused.”
Adams ran at the Nike Cross Country National Midwest Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., the week after the state cross country meet, then took some time off before starting her winter training.
“I’m ready to work hard and bring home two gold medals from state,” Adams said. “That’s my ultimate goal. I really want to go out with a bang and put down some impressive times.”
Adams has been impressive throughout her career, but Tveter sees a different runner than the one who came in three years ago.
“She looks more relaxed,” he said. “Her freshman and sophomore years she looked more intense, like ‘I want that time now.’ Now, it’s like if she has a bad race, it’s ‘Things happen and we’ll go on from there.’ She’s calm and patient. That kind of goes with the maturity level.”