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Lachmund again peaking at the perfect time for West Lafayette cross country

October 20, 2012
West Lafayette Jr.-Sr. High School

Racing across the sandy trails at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore last August, Grace Lachmund was on her way.

With an illness-hampered junior season behind her, the West Lafayette senior was feeling great and performing well at the Red Devils’ preseason team camp. She ran with the boys’ pack in workouts and was closing the gap behind top girls runner Bobbie Burgess.

One bad step, however, ruined that momentum. Lachmund twisted her ankle on a root on the last run of the last day. When she hobbled back to camp, she wound up hurting her hip as well. The injuries cost her three weeks and about 100 miles of crucial training with a team hoping to challenge for a state championship.

“I was like, ‘All right, this is going to be my season,’ ” Lachmund said. “This is our chance to do really well at state as a team, and I’m feeling really strong. I’m so excited.

“... Then it’s like, ‘Great, can I not be a part of this?’ I was totally down in the dumps. It really was awful.”

Yet just as she has the past two seasons, Lachmund appears to be finishing strong. The senior set a personal best of 18:32 at last week’s Harrison Regional, and her senior leadership will help West Lafayette attempt to repeat as New Prairie Semistate champion today.

“She makes us a little more responsible, doing abs and stuff and making sure you do them every day,” WL junior Grace Denton said. “She knows even if you don’t want to do it after one run, it will pay off at state.”

As a freshman, Lachmund dreamed of one day playing setter for a Division I volleyball program. But while running track that spring, she developed a love of distance running, and by the following fall she’d switched to cross country.

West Lafayette coach Steve Lewark noticed her promise when she ran 18:34 during her first season with the team. Lachmund just missed all-state honors that year as the Red Devils finished third at state.

“I had really big ideas about what she could do,” West Lafayette coach Steve Lewark said.

Illness cost Lachmund a month of her junior season, but once again, she recovered to run a personal-best time at the state meet. Not satisfied with that progress, Lachmund spent part of last summer at a running camp in Colorado.

Division I athletics are still a goal, though in a different venue. Lachmund has taken official visits to Indiana and Butler, and strong times over the final two meets could draw additional interest.

Now that she’s running strong again, Lachmund’s top priority is to help the Red Devils to their best podium finish ever at next week’s state meet.

“It’s a special time,” Lachmund said. “Being my senior year, I wanted to be a part of it. My team means so much to me that I want to be there with them every step of the way. When I had to sit out of practices, it just killed me, because I want to be right here with them, getting better, getting stronger.”

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