As a distance runner, Kristina Aubert admits she still has a lot to learn.
“I don’t think you get comfortable as a distance runner until you do it for a couple of years,” said Aubert, a Crystal Lake South graduate.
The past two weeks, Aubert’s learning curve has been on a drastic upswing.
Aubert, a junior at NCAA Division I Arkansas State, won the 5,000-meter race March 23 at the LSU Relays in Baton Rouge, La., in a personal-best time of 16:54.51, the top time by a Sun Belt Conference runner this season and the fifth-best time in the NCAA West Region.
Last weekend, in only her second career 10-kilometer race, Aubert finished in 34:53.51at the highly competitive Stanford Invitational, placing 10th in her heat and 34th overall. Her time was a personal record by 53 seconds and the best time in the Sun Belt.
“It’s been unbelievable,” said Aubert, a converted middle distance runner. “I never thought I’d PR twice in seven days.”
For her effort at LSU, Aubert was named the SBC Women’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Week.
“I think the 5K does give me some speed for the 10K,” said Aubert, who will run her next 5K race in two weeks at the Vanderbilt Invitational.
Though she won’t run her next 10K until the SBC outdoor championships next month, Aubert learned plenty of lessons at Stanford, where 18 of this season’s top 20 times nationally were posted.
“My coach talked about getting out [fast],” Aubert said. “There were 30 girls in my heat, so if you don’t get out, you’re going to be playing catch-up the whole race.”
Aubert said she settled in with a pack of runners that helped push her to a solid time.
Late in the race, the pack slowly broke away from her.
“The pack I was with most of the time came in at about 34:30,” said Aubert, whose time ranks 31st nationally. “In the last 2K, I just slowly fell off.”
For only her second race, Aubert was thrilled with breaking a new barrier.
“My goal was to break 35 [minutes], so I’m really happy,” she said.
Oregon senior Jordan Hasay won the race in 32:46.68, and 14 other runners at the Stanford meet broke 34 minutes.
The strong competition is something Aubert welcomes.
“I get excited when that happens,” she said. “I don’t mind getting beat as long as I run a good time.”
CCAC standout Boyer: McHenry West grad Sarah Boyer was named Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week on Tuesday.
A senior at NAIA Judson University in Elgin, Boyer went 4-0 in the previous week for the Eagles (21-5), including a five-inning no-hitter in a 15-0 win against Trinity International University. Boyer had 15 strikeouts in the win, surpassing the 500 career strikeout mark at Judson.
In her 26 innings during the previous week, Boyer struck out 44 batters. She ranked 14th in the nation entering this week with 12.14 strikeouts a game.
A day after no-hitting TIU, Boyer tossed a one-hitter, striking out 12, in a 6-0 win against Purdue University-North Central.
For the season, Boyer is 9-3 with a 1.97 ERA. She has struck out 105 batters in 742/3 innings.
North Park’s Williams shines: Cary-Grove grad Kyle Williams, a senior outfielder at D-III North Park University in Chicago was honored Tuesday as the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Hitter of the Week in baseball.
In a three-game sweep of conference opponent Millikin, Williams batted .400.
Williams’ best game of the series was a 4-for-6 effort with three runs, a triple and an RBI in a 10-4 victory March 29 in the opener of a doubleheader.
Williams, who also played at McHenry County College, is batting .341 with 15RBIs this season for the Vikings (11-9), who are off to a 4-1 start in conference play.
Soaring Flyers, Albano: Lewis University junior outfielder Ben Albano hit two home runs Tuesday in a doubleheader sweep of Wisconsin-Parkside to help the D-II Flyers extend their baseball winning streak to 10 games.
Albano, a Jacobs grad, also doubled and drove in five runs on the day. For the season, he is batting .262 with a team-leading four homers and 31 total bases. Albano is second on the Flyers (16-3) with 15 runs scored and has 15 RBIs.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com, check out his On Campus blog at McHenryCountySports.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryOnCampus.