Frank Workman on Sports: My High School Sports Moment of the Year

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Lauren Block is running in second place in the 800
but starting to gain on the leader.
By Frank Workman

It happened on a bright sunny August morning. The Shorecrest Cross Country team was having their first on-campus workout, following two days of jogging the hills in Kenmore's St. Edwards Park.

After some stretching and light jogging up a slight incline, the coaches gathered the fifty-some boys and girls and explained that day's workout.

It would consist of ten half-mile loops, with breaks between each loop, to be run at the same steady clip every single time. The aim was for the runners to find a pace they were comfortable with and sustain it each time around. Fluctuations in times were bad - consistency was good.

At no time, the coaches stressed, should this turn into a competition. The day's workout was solely to help each runner establish his or her own steady pace. Simple enough.

The runners took off on their first loop of the season. Across a 75-yard stretch of grass they went, through a gate, then counter-clockwise around the outer perimeter of the football field, behind the batting cages, then back again to the starting point.

Lauren Block crossing the finish line
Four or five of the boys first made their way through the gate, with that same 75-yard stretch to complete their initial run.

Then the first two girls reached the final straight-away. Stride for stride, shoulder to shoulder the two were.

Neither seemed to acknowledge each other's presence, yet they knew full well the other was right there.

Each girl had a certain look in her eye, a determination, that said 'I'm not going to lose'. Their bodies were straining to beat the other, in spite of trying to make this first run appear effortless. Neither runner gave an inch down the stretch. Call it a tie.

The band wasn't playing. There were no cheerleaders, pompoms, parents, or announcers.

But it was the very essence of competition, why we watch  and love sports.

Two great athletes, their stars on the rise.

Those who saw it just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Lauren Block, left, and Lilly Visser
The girls, Lauren Block and Lilly Visser, were about to be sophomores. As freshmen the previous spring, they had scored points at the State Track Finals, pitching in to help the Scots win the 2A State Championship.

This past fall, the two went on to lead the Scots to a third place team finish at the 3A State Cross-Country Finals. Lilly finished 14th and Lauren was 19th.

With the spring came another track season. Both girls continued to run the 1600 and 3200 meter races for the most part.

But girls from other schools in the District were clearly better than them and would gobble up the precious berths to the lState Finals.

With Lilly having the best shot at cracking the top four in the 1600 and 3200, she pressed on.

Lauren's coaches suggested she try her hand (and feet) at some shorter races. Open-minded and coachable, she ran a few 400's and some 4-by-400 meter relays. She dabbled in the 800, with enough success to qualify for the District meet.

She ran well in her prelim, qualifying for the District Finals two nights later.

In the finals, she rounded the last turn trailing the leader by a couple strides with 90 yards to go. As the track straightened out, she found another gear.

There was a familiar look in her eye .... the same one that was seen back in August. She wasn't going to lose.

She passed the leader with forty yards to go and won the 800 by two strides, going away.

Lauren in #1 position. Teammate Livia Glascock finished 4th
Shorewood's Rachel Hansen was fifth..
It came time for the announcer to introduce the top eight finishers in the race. After he'd named places 8 through 2, he took just a second to look back at the lone girl yet to mount the victory stand.

He saw a girl beaming so broadly, it caused a lump to form in his throat.

He quickly gathered himself and turned to face the crowd.

And he introduced Lauren Block as the District Champion in the Girls 800 Meter Run.

THAT was my favorite high school sports moment of the year.



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