St. Aloysius runners aim to go the distance

Published 11:33 am Thursday, May 10, 2012

Three St. Aloysius runners hope to go the distance Friday in the Class 1A track meet.

Mack Davidson, Luke Eckstein and Ken Cook will aim for gold medals in Pearl after posting qualifying performances in the South State meet last week. Davidson won the 800 and 1,600 meters, while Eckstein finished second in the 3,200 meters and Cook was fourth in the 1,600.

“I’m pretty excited for this week,” Davidson said. “There was good competition last week and I expect the same this week as well.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The trio makes a habit of running in the Vicksburg Military Park, where the challenging up-and-down layout has helped them build endurance and strength.

But training is a year-long way of life for these athletes, all of whom have run in at least one of the big three road races in the area — the Over the River Run, the Chill in the Hills and the Run Thru History.

So don’t expect the higher temperatures to have an effect on them at the state meet.

“The longer the distance goes, it gets harder,” Eckstein said. “But I don’t think the heat will be a factor. I cut 10 seconds off my time. I don’t think the heat will matter if you’re well hydrated.”

The key for them on the long races is getting into a comfort zone in the first few laps to set up an afterburner run in the final stretch. Start out too fast and a runner might not have enough left for a last-dash run.

When victory is measured in hundredths of a second, every bit of strategy is critical.

“If you’ve got to dig deep in those last laps. You’ve got to want it,” Eckstein said. “In those first laps, you’ve got to get into your rhythm.”

Another key factor for the three is the thrill of traffic, as the competitive spirit takes hold and the runners try to find an extra gear to separate from the pack. Knowing that you’re in a field of the state’s best helps ignite the competitive fire even more.

“The more stiff the competition, the better the times I post,” Davidson said. “It’s motivation when someone is beside you. It really puts the spurs into you and makes you want to go faster.”

The Lady Flashes will have some athletes aiming for medals as well.

Maggie Waites had a season-best 11 foot, 2 inch performance in the pole vault at South State to qualify for that event. She also qualified in the 100 meters. Nicole Hayward won the triple jump to qualify for state.

Alyssa Engel qualified in the long jump, Tori Thomas in the shot put and the 1,600 meter relay team of Hayward, Engel, Elizabeth Counts and Camille Bexley will compete at state as well.