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Bureau Valley sophomore Regan Weidner is the 2012 NewsTribune Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. Weidner placed second at the Class 1A State Meet, which is the best finish in Bureau Valley girls history and matches the best finish ever by an area girl. NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
After a carefully structured season of workouts designed to maximize her performance in the postseason, the Bureau Valley sophomore standout needed to pick the right time to peak leading up to the Class 1A Oregon Cross Country Sectional.
“I asked her coming into sectionals, ‘Do you want to win sectionals, or do you want to place higher at state? We’ve got to peak here for the right thing,’” Bureau Valley coach Dale Donner explained. “She gave me this look like, ‘What are you talking about? I want to place higher at state.’ So that’s what we decided — because she had a chance to win a sectional.”
Weidner went on to finish second at Oregon.
“If she could have beat (sectional champion) Julie James that day or not that day I have no idea,” Donner said. “But she made the right decision.”
The right decision, indeed.
Weidner’s perfectly-planned peak set her up for a second-place finish with a time of 17:45 at the Class 1A IHSA State Meet — the best ever finish for a Storm girl. For her silver-medal performance this year — and a host of other accomplishments — Weidner is the 2012 NewsTribune Girls Cross Runner of the Year.
It all started with that time — 17 minutes, 45 seconds.
All season Weidner trained to capture that mark, knowing that if she followed Donner and the BV coaching staff’s carefully-concocted formula that she would reach her optimal level of performance — and hopefully her goal time — at approximately 9:17 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 at Peoria’s Detweiller Park.
“I trained at that time every time we had a speed workout or tempo run — it was all based on 17:45. My times were never really even close to that but we trained hard all throughout the season and never really took much rest,” said Weidner, who managed her previous season best of 18:28 at Detweiller for the Peoria Heights Invitational.
“(Hitting 17:45) is still kind of mythical for me, because 18:28 isn’t really even close for running on the same course. But I knew Mr. Donner knew what he was talking about. We really started to taper and that makes a huge difference,” Weidner said. “I think that I believed I could do it, but I had to do it to prove it to myself. For my time to drop and to get there was perfect.
“I can’t really explain how it happened, but it was definitely incredible,” Weidner added about finishing second and hitting her time with a late surge that saw her overtake third-place finisher Rachel Devereaux of Decatur St. Teresa in the final 800 meters. “I shocked myself I know that. I shocked a lot of people.”
Weidners’s decision to peak at state was a risky venture that paid off.
“There are pros and cons to that. You’re only given one race to run. In a sense we’re running 14 races over the course of the year, but we’re only rested for one race,” Donner said. “Some years it works and some years it doesn’t. It worked, and she hit her goal exactly.”
While Weidner might not have been quite full strength on race day all season, it didn’t stop her from winning.
She became the first-ever BV girl to win the Bureau Valley Invitational, added a victory early in the season the Oregon Invitational, won the Princeton Invitational and captured a regional title at Rock Falls. The Storm standout also placed third at both the Amboy and Peoria Heights invitationals.
There’s most likely many more wins and postseason medals in store for Weidner, who also excels on the track for the Storm.
But for now, all she’s doing is focusing on some numbers.
“In track I want to break 11:20 in the two mile. In the mile, I’m not quite sure, but I think I’m going to go with 5:10, maybe 5:05,” Weidner said.
As for next fall?
“I’ve been thinking about being under 17:30,” Weidner said. “I want to be under 17:30 — I just haven’t decided how far under.”
She’s still got a little time before she makes her decision.
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995 or at email@example.com Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.
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