Frommer gains mental toughness

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Josh Flickinger/Beloit Daily News Members of the Hononegah track team who are headed to the IHSA State meet pose after practice. Bottom row: Katrina Meyers, Jordan Tresemer, Abby Bukowski. Middle row: Honest Sandlin, Megan Leppert. Top row: Taylor Frommer.

ROCKTON - To be sure, there are plenty of physically attributes necessary to make an elite distance runner.

One has to be in fantastic physical shape, possess a significant measure of natural ability and no small amount of strength to have success in that particular venture.

For the truly elite, however, there is a mental toughness that extends beyond any physical gift.

It's that extra level that Hononegah sophomore Taylor Frommer, always blessed with the physical tools, has found recently.

Frommer, who qualified for the IHSA Class 3A Cross Country state meet in the fall, ran a school-record 5:07 mile in late April. For an encore, Frommer ran a 5:01 at the sectional meet, which gives her the seventh-best time in the state heading into Friday's meet at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

Frommer will join the 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams at the state meet.

Indians coach Danny Savage believes Frommer's ability to overcome the mental hurdles has been the key to her success.

"I've coached her for two years now and she has immense talent," Savage said. "She just had to figure out how to use it and be consistent. She's a hard worker that does everything we ask her to do. She lifts weights three times per week, does her workouts exactly the way we want her to do and when she's confident like she is now, she really shines. Once she saw she could run 5:07, that gave her the confidence to run 5:01. Now, she's got the confidence to break the five minute mark."

Frommer said she received a motivational message from her father Andrew that stuck with her during the race.

"The day before sectionals he put a note in my car that said 'It's not how bad you want it, it's how hard you're willing to work to get it,'" Frommer said. "I just thought about that the whole time. I ran the first three laps pretty strategically and the last lap, I just put my heart and everything into it, and I just wanted it so bad. I went for it."

Frommer finished second at the sectional meet to Belvidere North freshman Madison Diercks by less than a second and will be running in the same heat as freshman phenom Katelynne Hart of Glenbard West, who enters the race as the top seed with a time of 4:47, eight seconds faster than her closest competitor.

Savage believes running with a fast heat will be a key for Frommer to advance to the finals.

"I trust Taylor to not go out too fast," Savage said. "She's one of the smartest racers that I've ever coached and she knows exactly what to do out there. Going out with a fast group would be great for her. Anytime you are chasing people and passing the, it's going to make your time faster."

The 4x400 relay team features sophomores Honesty Sandlin, Megan Leppert, Jordan Tresemer and senior Katrina Meyers. That foursome ran a 4:01.72 to place third at sectionals and Savage said they will need to slightly improve to make the finals.

"3:58 would give us a real shot to advance and I think that's realistic," Savage said. "Anything under four minutes would be huge for this group. All four of those kids can get a little faster on their times, and that's all it takes. Two of those girls ran PR's at the sectional meet, and now they know they can do it."

The 4x200 unit of Sandlin, Meyers, Leppert and Abby Bukowski ran a 1:44.98 at sectionals to finish fifth. Savage said the group hasn't worked much together this season.

"Every time we tried to get these four together, someone would have to go to a wedding or there was something else going on and we could never do it," Savage said. "At sectionals, these girls ran a time that was four seconds faster than we've run all year. The question will be if we can drop another second or so, because that's what it's going to take to advance to the finals. It's a lot to ask in that distance, but crazy things happen when kids decide its possible."

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