Like several cross country runners, Derby sophomore Jordan Eickelman will not be competing in her primary sport this fall.
A clinical goal scorer on the soccer field, Eickelman starred as a forward on the Derby girls soccer team last spring.
But unlike those other runners who use cross country as conditioning for a winter or spring sport, Eickelman sees no reason why running has to be a secondary sport to her. If she’s going to do it, then she wants to excel.
“I don’t view it as just something to stay in shape for soccer,” Eickelman said. “I really like running. It’s something that I’ve really learned to love.”
Battling an in-season injury, Eickelman still managed to break 16 minutes in five of her eight races and finished last season in 21st place at the Class 6A meet.
Not bad for a “secondary” sport.
“It’s really rare to want to be a cross country runner in the first place, it kind of takes a special kind of person,” Derby coach Jimmy Adams said. “So for her to come out and then to compete at the level that she does, that’s very impressive.”
Adams, who took over for long-time coach Eldon Edwards this season, says Eickelman is visibly stronger than she was last season. And now she is armed with knowledge of every course Derby will run on this season.
Eickelman already has a knack for knowing when to start her kick, and she proved to be a natural at executing comebacks late in races to improve position. It’s that foot speed she uses on the soccer field.
“I love the end of races because that means it’s sprinting time for me,” Eickelman said. “It’s awesome when you know you worked hard for an entire race and then you pass them at the end. It feels like such an accomplishment.”
It’s that mentality that has Adams excited to see what Eickelman can accomplish. Cross country may not come first, but there’s nothing secondary about it when it comes to Eickelman.
“I don’t think she knows how to do anything not full-out,” Adams said. “Most kids are out just for the conditioning, but not her. She’s out here trying to be the best cross country runner she can be. It’s really refreshing to see.”