Kevin Lachowitzer wins State Cross Country title
By John George email@example.com Thousand's of miles of running has paid off for Kevin Lachowitzer. The Perham junior had virtually devoted his life to becoming a better runner since joining cross country in the eighth grade. Now all that hard work ...
By John George
Thousand's of miles of running has paid off for Kevin Lachowitzer. The Perham junior had virtually devoted his life to becoming a better runner since joining cross country in the eighth grade. Now all that hard work has paid off as he was crowned the Minnesota Class A State Champion Saturday in Northfield at St. Olaf College.
Lachowitzer, who was ranked No. 1 heading into the meet, ran away with the title with a time of 15:54.9, more than 11 seconds ahead of runner-up Don Wasinger of Winona Cotter (16:06.5).
In winning the individual championship, Lachowitzer also led his Yellowjacket team to the Class A team title. Perham finished with a team score of 71 points, miles ahead of runner-up Minnehaha Academy with 165.
"This is the best I've ever felt in my life," Lachowitzer said. "All that hard work paid off. This is just such an amazing feeling."
Despite a fit of last-minute nerves, Lachowitzer was in the lead pack from the start along with Wasinger, Will Hattfield of Minnehaha Academy and Warroad's Moses Heppner.
"I felt horrible at the start," he said. "Up until about 600 yards into it. I think the nerves were getting to me."
At about the 1,000 meter mark, he said he started hitting his stride.
At different points in the race, Wasinger and Heppner took their turns leading the pack, but Lachowitzer just waited for his turn.
""We pretty much lead most of it," he said of the four-some.
"That helped out (when Wasinger surged ahead)," Lachowitzer said. "I'm not the best kicker, so I was happy someone was picking up the pace. I just stayed with him and figured we could tire everybody out so I could outrun them at the end."
Heppner took a brief lead at the 1000 meter mark, in the final wooded loop at the St. Olaf course. That's when Lachowitzer made his move.
"My plan all a long was to push it at the 800m mark," he said. "We got to the top of a hill and I surged ahead. I used the downhill and went."
Surge ahead he did. As he came up the hill leading to the final 70 meters, he was all alone, ahead by more than ten seconds.
"I felt amazing coming down that stretch with all those people It was the greatest feeling ever," he said. "I was thinking, all the work paid off. I never thought I'd be able to do this."
Lachowitzer began running track in seventh grade. He started in cross country the next fall as an eighth grader.
"I wasn't that good at baseball," he said. "I could run in gym a little bit. Morris talked me into cross country that next year and I was hooked on it."
He was just a youngster earlier in the decade when coach Brad Hickerson and Jake Januszewski brought the team to State the first time. Morris was in his second fall at Perham High School when Lachowitzer joined the program.
"I had one girls state champ in Carolina, but I didn't coach her all the way through from the beginning," Morris said. "To have had Kevin from the beginning and to have seen where's he's come from and to see him work hard and mature. Nobody deserves it more. He's the one that's got this team going."
"I always looked at those guys like Jake, Jordan (Menze) and David (Krueger), and I always wished I could run like them," Lachowitzer said. Januszewski ran at North Dakota State. Menze is running at Campbell University in North Carolina and Krueger is running at the U of M in Minneapolis.
Kevin thought the thrills were over once he crossed the finish line. He wasn't expecting what happened at the awards ceremony.
"That was great when she called out my name to go up on stage," he said. "What an adrenaline rush. Tat was awesome."
"It's just fun. It's so exhilarating," Morris said with an ear-to-ear smile. "I saw him at about 600m and I knew he had it.
"It takes a bunch of miles in the summer," Morris added. "He's put a lot in over his life."
Like over 600 miles last summer alone, according to Lachowitzer.
That's a lot of time and dedication. A lot of hard work and love for the sport. Was it all worth it?
"Yes. Every mile. This is the best I've ever felt. It's just so amazing."