When Regan Weidner felt a need for speed, it sent her down a path of injury and frustration.
Now the Bureau Valley senior is trying to find a new path to take – one of good health and redemption.
Weidner was once all the rage in girls cross country. She burst onto the scene as a freshman in the fall of 2011, when she placed 21st at the Class 1A state cross country finals at Detweiller Park in Peoria. Her time was 18 minutes, 19 seconds.
She reached her peak as a sophomore, when she returned to state and took second in the 1A event, with a time of 17:45.
Things began to turn, however, the following winter. Part of her preparation for her sophomore season of track included Don Beebe House of Speed workouts, to increase her kick for the relatively shorter distances she'd be running in track.
One day before school, a speed workout turned bad.
"I pulled a hip muscle," Weidner said, "and that's where all of my problems started. It kind of changed my form."
Weidner's track season as a sophomore was a washout, as were her entire junior seasons of cross country and track. It was a seemingly endless cycle of rest, trying to get into some sort of running form, and then injury.
A stress fracture in her right leg and shin splints in her left leg resulted in a frustrating junior season. She tried to run, but was just a shell of her former self.
Bureau Valley coach Dale Donner lauded Weidner's work ethic, but at the same time, realized he had to try to rein her in a bit.
"If you don't work hard enough, you're not going to be where you need to be," Donner said, "and if you work too hard, you're going to get hurt. You've got to find that small part there where you're working hard enough to be competitive, but not too hard to hurt yourself.
"When she came back from her injury, I think she over-worked, and I'm sure both of us were to blame."
This past summer, Weidner took 6 weeks off from running to let her body heal, then limited herself to about 30 to 35 miles a week of training, along with about an hour a day of elliptical work.
Outside of some general soreness while rounding into running shape, she pronounced herself fit entering the season.
"Coach had a goal-time of 17:45 for me, and at state [as a sophomore], I hit it exactly," Weidner said. "He's got the same goal-time for me this season."
Making this season even more special for Weidner will be having her younger sister, Haley, alongside her. Haley is also an accomplished runner, as she finished second in the 1,600 at the IESA Class 1A girls state track meet this past spring with a time of 5:25.58 while competing for Bureau Valley South Junior High.
Haley remembers watching Regan finish second in the IHSA state finals, and is looking forward to giving the Storm a potent 1-2 punch at the top of their lineup.
"Watching her, I was like, 'Hey, that's my sister,'" Haley said. "Now I kind of have the pressure to be like her, but I think it's just going to be fun to run with her this season. It's extra motivation for me."
School: Bureau Valley
FYI: Finished second in 1A state cross country meet as a sophomore, and 21st as a freshman. ... Slowed by injuries for last 1˝ years.