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Lizzie Eberhardt saves the best for last

POSTED November 20, 2014
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson


            If you are going to do it once, do it in a big way. Do it like Lizzie Eberhardt.

            Eberhardt has always been good when it comes to running. All-State, All-Berkshire League for Thomaston High, always around the top of the pack. You knew Lizzie was around and if you didn’t she reminded you, always pushing the pack.

            But for all the hundreds of miles through parking lots and woods and the myriad of towns that Eberhardt has run through and all the dual meets and invitationals that were offered up in high school and college she had never been the best. Good, all-star good. But, never the best.

            In high school there was phenomenal Jackie Nicholas of Nonnewaug and in college a host of talented flying feet. Just a lot of good competition.

            Lizzie Eberhardt had never won a race. Until now. Time to redo the running resume.

            In case you hadn’t heard Eberhardt, now a fifth-year senior at Central Connecticut recently won the Northeast  Conference Women’s Cross Country Championship at Quarter Park in New Britain.

            No messing around with Eberhardt. In her last race, after taking year off she dusts not just the opponents but her whole conference. If you are going to do it once, do it like Miss Eberhardt.

            “It’s very exciting, it felt good knowing I could run with the competition and that the hard work over the years paid off,” said Eberhardt.   

            Winning a title was never something that has defined the career.  There are enough honors and there is a love of the sport.  There is a competitive element, you don’t race all these years like it is an afternoon pastime. But it is so much about doing your best not being the best.

            Eberhardt, 22, is driven from within. She is not a fist-pumper, knuckle-bumper. She’s a big smile mixed with serious burn that emanates from down deep. Think about this.

            She did not run her junior year. A double major, she just trained to spend more time on her studies. She ran no races. She will graduate in December and begin her MBA in Data Analytics.

            “She and a group decided academics comes first and if she came back we were hosting (the conference championship) and would have a good shot,” said Central coach Eric Blake.

            So there was the decision to walk away from the run.  But she ran back, right into the finish line. First. How’s that for a little competitive fire.

            And while maybe unlikely to a way a thought, not really a surprise. Eberhardt didn’t come out of nowhere, she’s always been there.

            “(Lizzie) has made good steady progress, every year she has gotten a little better,” said Blake. “She red-shirted her first year and has been All-Conference three times. The first year I could sense she race better in four years. It takes time with distance runners. Any setbacks she has had, she’s still been loyal to the plan. She believes in herself as a runner.”

            Eberhardt was one of a group that was expected to contend for this title after a good season. She ran a 3,000 meter in 10:19 prior to the race, showing she was in good shape.

            As the race progressed, Eberhardt took off. A little over a mile out she grabbed the lead on a hill and pulled ahead by about 30 meters. With a little over a mile to go the gap closed and Eberhardt managed to hold on to win by three seconds in a personal best time of 17.27 over the 3.0 mile course. “

            “Either way this was going to be my top finish,” said Eberhardt. “I would have been happy to place well. There were a handful who could have won the race, luckily it worked out for me. It was my goal and it was a tough goal with a lot of girls.”

            It is one of those stories you like. You know the kind, where the ending makes you smile. Saving the best for last. If you are going to do it, doing like Lizzie Eberhardt did it is a pretty good way to go.     

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