MileSplit Fast Four: A weekly glimpse at four of our nation's best
Each week here at MileSplit we will be giving you a quick look at four of the nation's best runners. Featured this week are Drew Shields (IN), Madeline Morgan (AL), Ben Furcht (PA) and Lindsay Flanagan (IL).
Sr., Fishers H.S.
Highlights: Prior to the fall of 2006 Shields had never competed in a 5000 meter race, during junior high and his freshman year of high school he participated in football instead of cross country. In a little over two years he has gone from never running a cross country race to being the 2008 IHSAA State Champion and a national qualifier in both NXN and Foot Locker, placing seventh at the Nike Cross Nationals. In three seasons, Drew has led the FHS Boys Cross Country Team to a 7th place team finish at state (2006), the 2007 State Team Championship and the 5th place team finish this year. Last spring at the IHSAA Boys Track & Field State Championships, he won both the 1600 & 800 meter run, the first time it has been done in Indiana in 60 years. He followed up his state performance with a 4:09.64 full mile at the Midwest Distance Gala, placing him 8th all time for Indiana high school student athletes in the 1600 meter run.
Coach (Nathan Warnecke) says: “Drew's success both in cross country and track & field comes from his relentless drive to be the best and his dedication and complete faith in our system. Drew understood early on that if he wanted to reach his goals and beyond that it was going to be a long term process and he could not rely solely on his nature talent. Drew has bought into our training philosophy even though he is not always thrilled to put in the weekly distance run or do a particular workout, but he understands and accepts that it has a purpose and completes it as planned. He has set the standard for our younger distance runners in regards to what it takes to reach your goals and the importance of remaining humble and respectful once you do. These attributes will serve Drew well on the collegiate level where I am confident he will continue to be very successful.”
Shields says: “Our program is all about the end of the year stuff rather than the beginning of the year. People aren’t really going to remember what happens in August and September. It’s all about what happens late October for us, then into November and now into December. I’m just glad I could keep the long term in focus. It was really hard in the beginning of the year when I was not running the way I knew I could, but it’s definitely all paying off right now. I just stuck with it. It was really frustrating. One meet that comes to mind was the Culver Invite. Neuqua Valley with Danny Pawola was down and Futsum was there; they both handed me my butt. After that race I was just in shock of how bad I did. Coach was like, ‘Drew your not going to be doing well right now. Your legs are incredibly tired. You’re doing more mileage than anybody right now. You’ll be alright.’ I kind just took that. Kept turning out the miles. As we started to get to the postseason, I started feeling a lot better.”
Summer mileage (max): 94
Weekly mileage: 75-80
Training shoes: Asics 2130
Superstitions: Shields eats pasta the night before and pancakes the morning of a race.
Hobbies: Hanging with friends
Favorite athlete: Ryan Hall
SR., Mountain Brook HS
Mountain Brook, AL
Highlights: A member of the perennial powerhouse Mountain Brook XC team, Madeline's resume is stacked with enough career highlights to make most people envious. The returning Nike Team National girls individual champion has had a terrific senior year finishing 8th at the Great American XC Festival and PR'ing at the Chile Pepper Festival with a time of 17:40. Morgan returns in 2008 to compete as an individual at NXN.
Coach (Michael McGovern) says: “Madeline has been and continues to be a joy to work with everyday. Her most remarkable trait is her ability to completely focus during a workout or a race and block everything out. She amazes me every week in her willingness to push herself to the limit. She has raised the level of our team to unsurpassed heights as well as upping the expectations for the whole state. NXN has been our focus for most of the year, so we have geared the training towards an early December peak. After the race, we will sit down and plan for some big goals in the spring.”
Morgan says: “For me, training has always been a kind of stress relief, so balancing it has never really been a problem. Practice is a part of the school day I can look forward to. Obviously there is a lot of time demanded and racing takes up most of your weekends, but my team and I always manage to make the meets fun--we are so close, and we have so much fun being crazy with each other. For the most part I feel like I balance running well with everything else, I just have to focus on the fact that I run because it's something I love to do and keep myself from over thinking it or getting stressed out. My coaches and team definitely help with that.
“ My defining moment as a runner would probably be dropping out of the state meet last year and then moving on to regionals and NTN. I feel like at that point I let go of any pressure and expectations and focused on the team, which really helped me and made me a better runner.
“Overall I've been happy with this season. Not every race went as well as I would have liked, but some days you're on and others you're off, and I'm just happy knowing I gave every race everything I had. I felt like the regional race was a good reflection of the hard work I've put into this season.”
Summer mileage: 45
Weekly mileage: 40-45
Training shoes: Nike Structure Triax 11
Superstitions: get lots of sleep the night before the night before a race
Hobbies: singing, shopping, extreme razoring, hanging out with friend
Favorite school subject: Calculus
Sr., Lower Merion H.S.
Highlights: Finished 10th at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional, earning the invitation to San Diego. At the first major meet of the year, the Hershey XC Invite, Furcht set the tone for the season, winning with a course record time of 16:09. Placed 11th at the PIAA Class AAA Championships. Won the Paul Short Invitational and District One Championships, both at Lehigh University.
Furcht says: “I just had fun. Neal (Berman) and I knew we could win some big races this year, so just working with him and making it happen was a blast. I had never won any big races in cross country before this year, so winning races like Paul Short and Districts was really exciting. States was pretty disappointing, but I was totally motivated to redeem myself at Northeast. Now I'm off to San Diego and looking to rep PA well.”
Summer mileage (max): 75
Weekly mileage: 70
Training shoes: Asics Gel 2120
Superstitions: Listens to the same song before each race, and always warms up in same outfit.
Hobbies: Making music and occasional bowling
Favorite food: Hot dogs
Sr., Lake Park H.S.
Highlights: Illinois 3A State Champion … Undefeated all season until her fifth-place finish at the Nike Midwest Regional, which qualified her for the Nike Cross Nationals … Placed fifth overall at the Nike Cross Country Championships in Portland, OR … Ran 17:57 to finish eighth at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional, securing a berth into this week’s FL Finals … One of only three girls to qualify for both National Championship races … Placed 10th at the Illinois State XC Championships as a junior
Flanagan says: “At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t really sure how things were going to go. But as the season got going, I kept progressing, and my times kept getting lower than last year’s, and I remember starting to think that maybe the whole state thing was possible. I trained a lot harder this whole year and track last year I trained a lot harder. I increased my mileage and intensity. So many more miles than before, but it worked really well. I didn’t know how it was going to work, but I’m pretty happy with the outcome. I was probably at 40 or under 40 last year and this year I was at 60-65 a week. It was good. I liked it. It was different at first, but now I am used to it.”
Summer mileage (max): 45-50.
Weekly mileage: 60-65
Training shoes: Brooks Adrenaline
Superstitions: Always wears two different colored socks
Hobbies: Swimming, biking
Favorite movie: Wedding Crashers