Girls track: Becca Conley looking to go out on a high note
By John O’Malley Post-Tribune correspondent May 13, 2013 8:36PM
Andrean's Becca Conley competes in the girls 3200 meter run during the Northwest Crossroads Conference boys and girls track meet held at Hobart High School on Tuesday May 7, 2013. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 15, 2013 6:34AM
While a nagging injury tempered her expectations on the track — making her goals nearly impossible to attain — there’s no harnessing Becca Conley’s spirit and resolve.
The Andrean senior was forced to take three months off after suffering a troubling late-season injury in cross country last fall.
About five days prior to the sectional, Conley developed tendonitis on the bottom of her left foot — a curse for anyone even trying to walk — let alone run cross country and compete at a high level.
“Essentially, it was a stress fracture,” Conley said. “I don’t even know how it started. Maybe I already had it from running so much. It might have already been inflamed, then a workout set it off.”
Despite the nagging, painful injury, Conley somehow managed to come from 30th place over the final K at the Crown Point Regional Cross Country meet to finish 13th and qualify for the New Prairie Semistate.
“Near the end of that race I kept thinking: ‘I can’t not qualify for semistate.’ I thought about my sister (Beth) and how the same thing basically happened to her as a senior. I started passing people slowly, one-by-one. I kept pushing myself and going harder. I even surprised myself. It’s funny, because it was like a really good race to me, but at the same time, not one of the best races of my career.”
For someone used to being an elite runner, it’s been a frustrating final season in an otherwise extremely successful prep career.
Conley, however, is realistic, even philosophical about the injury, which definitely put a crimp in her goals.
“My expectations weren’t really high this season,” said Conley, who claims to be about 85 percent now.
“I know my relationship with (other athletes) I’m competing against, and I realize I have little chance of making it to state. I’m not at 100 percent, so I know where I stand. It’s still possible to get there — I could have a really, really good race, and everybody else could have not-so-good races, but it’s really not likely. My goals are to do the best I can and finish out the season positively, while leaving something to be desired for cross country and track in college.”
Conley qualified for the state track meet in the 3,200-meter run as a freshman. As a junior last year, she ran a leg on the 59ers’ 3,200-relay team that narrowly missed qualifying for state.
“Becca’s been struggling a lot this year,” Andrean track coach Jackie Torres said. “In regards to her training, she’s very much behind. She really didn’t even start speed work until a few weeks ago. She’s spent the whole season really building her base. For her, it’s been difficult, because she’s used to going toe-to-toe and competing with elite runners like (Griffith’s) Taylor Austin and (LaPorte’s Elena) Lancioni. We have a lot of underclass runners this spring, but Becca has been a good leader for us and taken some of them under her wing.”
A brilliant student, Conley ranks in the top five in her class with an eye-popping 4.43 GPA in demanding honors courses.
Amazingly, Conley was accepted academically at prestigious Washington and Lee (Va.) University, which accepts only 18 percent of all applicants.
However, the academically-driven school wasn’t offering Conley enough money, so she explored another option.
Conley will attend DePauw University (Greencastle, Ind.) this fall and compete in both cross country and track under the direction of Tigers’ head coach Kori Stoffregen.
Conley is excited and really looking forward to the next phase in her life. She’ll join her sister, Beth, a 2010 Andrean graduate, and will compete with her for the first time since her freshman year at Andrean.
“It’s really cool that I’ll be running with Beth again,” Conley said. “I’m really looking forward to it. DePauw’s been recruiting me for two years now. They’ve been there for me since Day 1. They wanted me really badly. It’s nice to feel so very welcome.”
Conley — The Post-Tribune’s Cross Country Runner of the Year in 2011 after placing 14th at state — plans to major in business and minor in political science at DePauw.
When she isn’t busy running or hitting the books, Conley enjoys shopping and being with friends.
In fact, this talented young lady has a keen eye for fashion.
If you happen to see Conley out and about, you likely wouldn’t recognize her — particularly at a social event.
When she sheds her running shoes, and isn’t in her athletic uniforms or wearing warmups, a transformation takes place.
Conley’s parents (Pat and Cindy) apparently really value their daughter’s penchant for fashion.
“My parents don’t know what they’re going to do when I go off to college next year in terms of how they’re going to dress,” she laughed. “My dad comes in my room every night to ask me which tie or shirt I think would look good together. Sometimes, my mom asks me for help, too, especially if she’s going to a nice event.”
What about her sister?
“Oh no, not at all,” Becca said. “Beth tells me to be quiet. She says she doesn’t need my advice or need me telling her what to wear — Ever!”
Conley will forever have fond memories of Andrean.
“I’ve basically been a part of these teams since the sixth grade,” she said. “It’s kind of just like my time to leave and move on to bigger and better things. It’s not like I’m not sad about leaving, because I am. It’s sad to be leaving my teammates and coaches. It’s time for someone else to take the reins and be the captain and leader.”
Cross country coach Rick Torres said not having Conley around definitely will be different.
“It’s sad she’s leaving, but at the same time, it’s something that’s good for her,” he said. “I hate to see her go, but I’m extremely proud of what she’s accomplished.”