Kyle goes extra mile for track team

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Kyle Ebert was ecstatic last Saturday after finishing the 1,600-meter race at Rocklin High School’s Thunder Invitational. The Lincoln freshman broke 5 minutes for the first time, finishing in 4:54. His coach, Eric Williams, was more impressed with Ebert’s 5-kilometer finish last Sunday at Run Rocklin. Ebert’s time of 17:10 was a second shy of his personal best in cross country last fall. His mother, Sherry, preferred to measure her 15-year-old son without using a clock. She was proud to say Ebert finally weighed 100 pounds when he stepped on a scale a few weeks ago. Ebert is coming of age in more ways than one, and he is not alone. Williams is blessed to have several freshmen with potential. That bodes well for the future of the track and field program. In fact, Ebert may not be the only freshman competing with the varsity boys team for very long. Williams is planning to promote Leo Calderon, Liam Hao and Josh Myers to strengthen the squad. Ebert competes with the varsity in Pioneer Valley League meets, but he runs at the junior varsity level for weekend events such as the Thunder Invitational to avoid biting off more than he can chew. The competition Ebert faces in the PVL is nothing compared with what he encountered in events such as last Saturday’s. He needed to break 5 minutes to finish 10th in the junior varsity 1,600. Three days earlier, Ebert ran the varsity 1,600 in Lincoln PVL’s dual meet against Colfax and won easily at 5:13. The junior varsity and varsity races were combined due to a shortage of runners. Ebert’s only competition was Colfax freshman Clay Leveskis, who started fast with a first-lap split of 1:08. Ebert stayed within striking distance although the pace was a bit out of his comfort zone. As Ebert began to close the gap, he could hear Leveskis’ heavy breathing. Ebert figured his opponent was running out of gas and made his move, taking the lead at the start of the third lap. Leveskis could not keep pace as Ebert pulled away, building a considerable lead in just a few seconds. The victory was evidence of Ebert’s development as a runner. He is learning to devise a race strategy. He is striving to run consistent splits in the 1,600 instead of starting fast and then losing steam. Williams would prefer Ebert start slower and accelerate on each lap to make the last one the fastest. That is called “negative splitting.” Williams knows all about it from his days as a distance runner. “I’m OK with him going out fast like that, but he needs to work on his strength,” Williams explained. “He has to learn to run through the pain, to run when it hurts. He’s just not that strong yet.” His time of 5:13 ranked Ebert 24th in a field of 33 runners in the junior varsity 1,600 at the Thunder Invitational. The “high caliber” competition, Williams said, brought out the best in Ebert. As he turned into the final stretch, Ebert could see a “4” on the track clock. His goal was in sight and within reach. “I just took off,” he said. “I knew I was going to do it. It’s all mental. You have to know you can do it.” Ebert had another goal in mind when he returned to the track for the junior varsity 3,200. The school record is 10:24. The 34-year-old record survived Saturday because Ebert finished in 10:50. His time in the 3,200 may have been the result of the six-hour break between Ebert’s two events. He spent far more time sitting in the bleachers with his parents than he did running on the track. Ebert’s 1,600 run was one of several solid performances by Lincoln’s junior varsity team last Saturday. Savannah Berkeley won the girls pole vault with a leap of 8 feet. Kelsey Snook was third at 7-6. Calderon won the boys long jump at 18-5, and Myers finished third in the boys high jump at 5-8. Williams plans to have Calderon compete in the long jump, triple jump, 800 and 1,600 relay with the varsity team. Myers will try his luck in the high jump, shot put, discus and 400 relay. Hao will compete with the varsity team in the long jump, 400 relay, 100 and 200.