LOMBARD – To most people, training to be an elite distance runner would require a lot of time and effort.
For Glenbard East freshman Lindsay Graham, it didn’t take very long and it didn’t feel like hard work.
Graham is a rapidly improving distance runner that is expected to qualify for the state meet in the 3,200-meter run and contend for a spot in the top 10 there. She won the DuPage Valley Conference meet on May 2 and can secure her place at state at Friday’s Class 3A York sectional.
She’s already racking up accomplishments in her first year of high school, but the shocking part is that she didn’t start distance running until eighth grade. A friend asked her to join the cross country team that year and it stuck.
“I was like, sure whatever, I’ll stay fit, and I ended up liking it a lot,” Graham said.
Graham quickly became the top runner for the Rams’ cross country team and placed 20th at the state meet. She’s ascending up the ranks in the track season and has the sixth-fastest 3,200 time in Class 3A, according to dyestat.com.
Her track season could be more successful, but she says she prefers cross country.
“I like longer races,” Graham said. “Even three miles seems a bit short. I don’t like running in circles. I like grass. I like hills.”
Now that Graham has discovered running, she’s hooked. She takes time off during the offseason, but typically runs five or six days a week. That time has helped her become the elite runner she is.
“The summer between eighth grade and freshman year I put in a lot of work,” she said. “I got really dedicated to it and all you have to do is love it.
“I feel like I’m pretty mentally tough and that can get you pretty far in a distance race.”
As Graham heads into the sectional, she will face runners with the three top times in Class 3A so far. Madeline Perez of Glenbard West, Emma Fisher of York and Kaylee Flanagan of Lake Park could be ahead of Graham even if she sets a personal best.
Graham, who typically also runs the 1,600, will run the 3,200 and the 4 x 400 relay at the sectional in the hopes of helping the relay qualify for state.
East coach Joe Latala also thinks the 4 x 100 has a good chance to qualify because it is seeded second entering the meet. The 4 x 200 also can make a state-qualifying time with a good race.
“It’s kind of crazy because in conference we were like fourth in these things,” Latala said. “In the sectionals with 16 schools now we’re second or third.”
Pole vaulter Jamie Gradishar is also a likely state qualifier. Gradishar has the school record and has hit state-qualifying height multiple times this season, Latala said.