MANLIUS — When Bureau Valley cross country coach Dale Donner talks about his sophomore standout Regan Weidner, he has one word that comes right to mind — heart.
When Weidner displayed an unbelievable kick to overcome a pack of runners to run down a runner-up finish in the IHSA Class 1A Cross Country State Meet, Donner knew exactly where it came from.
“Regan usually doesn’t have that much of a kick at the end. With 50 (yards) to go, she was in a dog fight; she really sped up. One of the kids asked me, ‘Where did she get that?’ I just pointed to my heart. She has a lot of heart. She deserves everything that she gets.
“She’s as hard of a worker as we’ve ever had come through Bureau Valley. She will do anything you ask and not question why, she just does it.”
The state runner-up finish capped a stellar sophomore season which saw Weidner win her first regional championship and second All-State medal. She now adds the honor as the 2012 BCR Runner of the Year, which promises to become a matter of routine over the next two years.
With her season, Weidner has effectively raised the individual bar for a Bureau Valley program that has a reputation as one of the premier programs in the area. Weidner has no interest in resting on her laurels.
“Obviously (the expectation) is going to be to do better than I did today,” she said after finishing second at state. “I know the expectations are going to be high. I am ready to keep training. I don’t want to take any time off right now. I just want to train as much as I can to get ready for next year.”
Weidner’s dedication to her sport even continues while she is playing basketball for the Bureau Valley Storm.
“Sometimes it’s hard to get in all of the training that I want,” she said of getting her running workouts in. “If we have a late practice, I will run before. If we have an early practice I’ll go to the Met afterwards, and if we have a game, I will take the day off and get ready for the game.”
Weidner also believes her experience in track – finishing third in the 3200m run last spring – has helped her be more competitive in the longer cross country races.
“I think that last track season helped me a lot,” she said when asked about her third sport. “It made my legs a lot stronger with the speed and 400 workouts. (The kick at the end of the state race) was all because of track. I did not have that last year.”
Weidner won her first regional championship at Rock Falls with a time of 18:43. She landed second at the Oregon Sectional behind the surprising race winner Julie James of El Paso-Gridley. Then at state, the Storm sophomore used her newfound kick to overcome a pack of runners to move up all the way to second-place with a personal best time of 17:45, second only to race winner Ivy Handley (17:24) of Decatur St. Teresa, the Class 1A team champion.
Longtime Princeton coach Pat Hodge appreciates a talent like Weidner.
“It’s obvious when watching her that she has a lot of determination to go along with the talent that she has. Her State run was her best, but she had several races during the year that indicated she would be up there pretty high,” he said.
Donner believes Weidner has the potential to make her mark on cross country in the state of Illinois. He also believes she can be a foundation upon which he can build his Bureau Valley program for years to come.
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