WL's Cartwright on fast track
September 21, 2011West Lafayette Jr.-Sr. High School
Andrew Cartwright's jaw dropped when he heard West Lafayette cross country coach Steve Lewark tell him he would run 1,200 miles between mid-June and the end of October.
But he wasn't about to question his coach's wisdom.
"He knows what he's doing by now," Cartwright said. "We just go run and do what he tells us -- and it pays off."'
It's paid off for Cartwright with a personal-best time of 15:57.2 this season. That's nearly 25 seconds better than his top 2010 time and, according to the website indianarunner.com, good for third place among competitors at the New Prairie Semistate.
Now Cartwright hopes 1,200 equals another number: 15:41. That's the school-record time that Joe Rayman ran in 2003.
"I just thought it was really daunting, because I was almost a minute off," Cartwright said of first hearing the school-record time as a sophomore. "I didn't think it was within reach."
Lewark said Cartwright is averaging about 55 miles per week during what he considers the training season, which begins in mid-June and extends through October.
Cartwright, who Lewark said is as physically strong a runner as he's ever coached, can more easily hold up through the bigger workload thanks to his solid physique.
"Overall body strength does two things," said Lewark, who is in his 17th season coaching the Red Devil boys. "It helps you keep from getting injured, which is key, because if you get injured you lose training time and you're not going to get where you need to be. It really helps on hilly courses, and it really helps on the finishing kick."
Two teammates helped push Cartwright to his senior-year performance.
Former Red Devil Zane Cooperider, now running at IUPUI, provided the work ethic role model. Cooperider fell ten seconds shy of the record Cartwright now pursues.
Cartwright's classmate, Chase Lewark, was West Side's No. 2 runner last season. His success provided more incentive for Cartwright to keep working.
"We've always been really close to each other, and last year he really had a great season," Cartwright said. "That really got me wanting to catch him. I think this friendly little competition's really good for us."
Cartwright has spoken with Purdue, MIT and Stanford about running cross country, though their educational offerings are more appealing. Cartwright plans on pursuing aerospace or mechanical engineering academically.
His latest engineering-related project involved fixing up a 1986 Porsche 944 with his father, Mark.
Unlike an automobile, Cartwright becomes more valuable the more miles he puts on.
"I feel better during races than I did last year," Cartwright said. "I have more energy."