Other Varsity Sports

Eickhorn faces final test

The school colors from around 20 teams will gradually blend, weaving together at the start of the Class 6A state cross country meet Saturday morning at Rim Rock Farm near Lawrence.

But there will be a contrast in the sublime view, one particular shade in the palette of colors.

"I am the girl with the red hair," North sophomore Amber Eichkorn proudly states. "I've always had red hair, so it sticks out seeing a whole bunch of runners with brown or blonde hair and then you just see somebody with red."

Eichkorn has placed in the top five of the City League the past two years. She qualified for state out of the Dodge City Regional last Saturday, placing second.

She isn't begging for attention, but Eichkorn very well may receive it after her race Saturday.

"I think she's going in trying to gain some respect," North coach Mike Pope said. "I think she's kind of flown under the radar. She's pretty soft-spoken, so she doesn't need a whole lot of notoriety. She'll just go out and compete and get the job done."

That's just how Eichkorn runs. She won't wow with blazing speed or impress with a strong start.

"I'm just really consistent," she said.

Eickhorn's lowest finish in her five races this season is 10th at the Rim Rock Invitational on Sept. 26. On Saturday she is hoping to shave nearly a minute off her regular season Tim Rock time of 16 minutes, 32 seconds.

"I kind of like it how no one in the world is expecting a whole bunch from me," Eichkorn said. "But I know my team is counting on me, so I guess it kind of goes both ways."

She's been in the shadow of cross country standouts Mackenzie Maki of Kapaun Mount Carmel and Bishop Carroll's Kaelyn Balch. But even they are starting to pay attention.

"Last year no one really knew me because I was just a freshman," Eichkorn said. "Now even Maki and Balch come up to me and talk to me. Individual runners are starting to get to know me. It's fine if I don't get pub, I just run."

With continued improvement her red hair might finish somewhere in the top 10 of the girls Class 6A race.

"I kind of like standing out," Eichkorn said, "so whenever I run people can point and say, "Hey, that's Amber.'"

After tomorrow, Eichkorn is hoping people know her for a different reason.