Spotlight Athlete: Megan Lemersal

Megan Lemersal is one of the top distance runners in 3A this year. Last year, the Maine South star finished 9th as a junior. See how her training is going and her goals for both herself adn her team in 2012.

How did you get started in XC?
Well I never was a runner before high school track. Since the age of five I was an Irish Dancer and competed around the world, my team winning first at nationals in Canada. It never even crossed my mind to do cross country my  freshman year since I had never run more than a mile before. So trying to get involved at Maine South, I decided to join the track team, hoping to do 100s. My coaches then put most of the freshman girls in an open 800 race and I guess I smiled the whole time and won the race. I had no idea how to run. After that, I never did another sprint race. My coach persuaded me to do cross country and by this point I had never run more than three  miles at a given time. My second three mile race was almost two minutes faster than my first. From then on I’ve loved the sport and have really been so excited at seeing what I can accomplish and can’t wait for more to come!
What has your summer training been like?
Right before school ended my team and I were back running together and really getting really for the upcoming cross country season. We’re adding on mileage and focusing on speed more which has helped us to do longer runs at an even faster pace. Personally, this summer has probably been the best so far training wise, and I hope it can put me in the best shape possible for the season.
Do you have any favorite workouts?
As far as workouts, my favorites would probably be ones involving an even faster pace with a shorter distance for speed. Maybe repeat 800s or even miles. However, I do love just long recovery runs with my team.
As a sophomore you finished 23rd at state. Last year you improved and finished 9th. This year four girls are under 17:00. What makes 3A such a difficult class?
Well 23rd was the place I finished sophomore year, and last year I finished 9th. It was the most exciting time in my life. Having been ranked at 25th, I knew that I was the underdog and had to prove myself. This year I hope I can be amongst the top 5, and possible be one of those sub 17 runners. 3A has some of the fastest girls in the Midwest, and just to be up there is awesome. The schools know how to train their girls, and even more so, the runners know how to be great. It’s tough to get up there but I feel like I’m ready for the challenge.
Talk about the makeup of this year's team. You have a solid 1-2 punch in you and sophomore Emily Leonard, but what is the outlook of the rest of the team?
I am very excited about this season! Emily is also working so hard, and I think that she will really be able to push me to get faster. Half of our top twelve last year were seniors, so everyone was almost worried about this season, but looking at all the hard work and devotion that our girls have already made, I’m not worried at all. So many of the juniors and a lot of the new freshmen have already stepped up and showed me that they are willing to work. One of our juniors, Cailin, is going to drop at least four minutes off of her time last year, so I can’t be any more proud. Last year we  finished 20th, but hope to break the top ten this year with all the focus already put into place.
What are some of your favorite moments  with the team?
We’ve had so many fun memories this year, and being a senior captain, we have a lot more coming. One thing we do is every year at state we tell the waitress that it is our coaches birthday. They make him dance and we all sing. He knows its coming and hates us for it but we think it’s hilarious.
Do you have any pre-race routines?
 I really don’t have any prerace routines. I do have a pair of lucky socks that I have worn every sectional, but other than that I have the same breakfast I would any other day, and focus on trying to keep calm.
What meets are you looking forward to this year?
I love the Lake Park course and any meets we’re competing at in Peoria, but other than that I don’t really have a preference.
What are your goals for your senior season?
I think my biggest goal is to break 17 minutes. I want to be someone that can show up and race hard, kicking at the end. Other than that personally, I want my team to do well. I think that we can show the other schools how much we’ve improved and rank top ten at state.

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