Many runners spend all of high school working towards what freshmen Lauren Jacob and Ben Zaeske have already reached. Already nationally ranked for their outstanding performance before even coming to this school, both freshmen have the time and potential to become some of the best runners in the state and the nation in the next four years.
The freshmen have very fast times: Ben ran a 4:44 mile at last year’s Middle School Cross Country Sectionals, and two years ago won fifth place at the U.S. Junior Olympic National Track Championships. Lauren placed third in the 3000-meter with a time of 10:32 in a USA Track & Field (USATF) meet last summer, proving her ability as one of the best female runners for her age.
These young athletes stand out because of their early dedication to their sport. Both runners found their passion in elementary school during the Junior Olympics. Early successes in these races fueled their desire to improve their abilities and become even better.
“I think I do more than other people,” Lauren said. “I work through a workout, and don’t think ‘This is hard.’ I think, ‘I’ll get much better after this workout.’”
Like Lauren, Ben has been training hard since elementary school. Starting in the fourth grade, he found he had a natural athletic talent for long-distance running.
“I won the mile race, and I was really interested in seeing if I would be faster in other races,” Ben said. “My dad put me in some other [races], and I got on a team.”
This year, some of the cross country team’s fastest runners will be these freshmen. Their performance gives the team a good chance of making the state competitions this year and potentially bringing home quite a few awards for the Eagles.
“The girls are looking very strong this year,” coach Dan Oren said. “They have a shot at going to the state meet, and [Lauren] will be hopefully leading them. She’s probably going to be the second best girl this year in the league.”
Like Lauren, Ben can also count himself among some of the fastest runners on the team.
“Ben has fallen right into the top five for the guys, which for this group of guys … [that] are all hoping and able to run in college, for him to be a freshman at this level is very good,” Oren said.
Despite being some of the youngest members on the team, Ben and Lauren have already proved themselves to have some of the greatest potential on the team, and are liking where they will be training and running for the next four years.
“The seniors are really fun and nice, the workouts are hard, and I like the coach a lot,” Ben said.