Boys cross country: Kyle Eller’s a ‘running geek’
By Dave Melton Post-Tribune correspondent September 1, 2012 11:40PM
Lowell's Kyle Eller runs the course at Lemon Lake on Tuesday, August 21, 2012. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 3, 2012 6:33AM
LOWELL — Ask Kyle Eller a question about running and then be prepared to listen, because there’s a good chance the Lowell senior will have a lot to say.
Eller is far from a reluctant participant in the sport of cross country. No, he’s about as involved — physically and mentally — as you can be. His take on daily routines is a perfect example.
“Practicing and training isn’t just going out and running your hardest,” he begins, his face lighting up like a teacher delivering his or her favorite curriculum. “Some of it also has to be knowing what to eat, how much you have to rest, what kind of workouts you have to do and how to run those workouts, because each workout has a different purpose.”
Eller’s coach, Jake Rakoczy, referred to Eller as a “running geek,” a term he uses without any negative connotations.
“The main kind of runner that you usually get is someone who likes to be a part of the team, run with their friends, compete and that’s where it ends,” Rakoczy said. “Not a lot of them will know who the famous runners are when they watch the Olympics. They’ll know Usain Bolt, but they won’t know the distance runners.”
Then Rakoczy described runners like Eller: “He’s taken the time to pay attention to those kinds of things. He’s also trying to understand why we do the things we do which, in my mind, is what takes you to the next level.”
For the past two summers, Eller has attended the Jim Ryun Running Camp, one of the country’s most prestigious gatherings of runners. Dr. Jack Daniels was at those camps, a revered name among running geeks.
It’s all of that running education that had Eller competing in last year’s state meet, where he finished 52nd. During the 2012 track season, Eller posted a personal record of 9:14 in the 3200-meter run at the state track meet, good for 11th place. His success continued this fall, where Eller finished in first place well ahead of the pack at the Andrean and Crown Point Invitationals.
But last Saturday, Eller was introduced to a new chapter in his running education. At the Purdue Invitational, with an impressive field of runners compiling the field, Eller finished ninth — a disappointment by his standards.
“I just wasn’t feeling it last weekend,” he said. “Sometimes, not being as good as you want early in the season makes you realize how much you have to work. If you’re always in front, you may not feel like you have to change that much.”
After the meet, Eller told his coach that he just wasn’t “in” the race.
“I told him that was the difference,” Rakoczy said. “You have to be ready to race or you don’t have a chance when you’re running against some of the top-level guys. You can’t afford to be off.”
It didn’t take long for Eller to bounce back, however. At Tuesday’s home meet, Eller hold off Munster’s Tom Bolanowski with a time of 16:20 and another first-place finish.
Eller’s goals remain unchanged: he plans on competing in this year’s state meet, and he expects to improve upon his 52nd-place finish last year. The results at the Purdue Invitational probably won’t be far from Eller’s mind, either.
“I hope what happened last weekend is a reminder of just how sharp he has to,” Rakoczy said.