Hamblen and Williams sounds like the name of a law firm only seen during commercials on late-night TV. Luckily for Rock Falls, the two spend most of their time running.
Rock Falls runners Seth Williams and Brayden Hamblen spent a lot of time together over the summer months. That time was often spent in silence as the two explored neighborhoods and towns while running down roads and sidewalks.
"We just wanted to make ourselves way better," Hamblen said. "Last season was really awesome, and I wanted to come in and be even better."
The two Rockets ran every day as part of the Rock Falls summer running program, and they made it a point to challenge each other each time out. Whether is was pace, distance or speed, they didn't let each other off easy.
"We ran a whole lot together," said Williams, a junior. "There were days when we would run 13 miles when neither person wanted to stop. We would just pace each other and keep going."
Other days, Williams said, they would run 4 miles as fast as they could, making sure to keep pace with the other. The average mileage came out to about 8 miles per day, and they were both happy to give up a potential lazy summer in favor of long, intense runs, while others might have been sleeping late.
The Rockets are coming off a strong season after qualifying for state, with Hamblen and Williams leading the way. It was at the big meets and state tournament that the two felt the rush of competing at a high level, with only the endurance they built up during training.
Williams placed 23rd at state and earned All-State honors, while Hamblen, then a freshman, was 32nd. The two have been training for months for this season, with goals of placing in the Top 10 after getting a taste of success last season.
This summer was the second offseason that Williams spent training heavily for the upcoming cross country season. Before his freshman year, he didn't participate in the Rockets' running program, and says that is his only regret.
"It really helped me a lot," he said. "It got me my state medal that I really wanted. I wanted that so badly, and it just opened my eyes to what I have to do."
Now, Williams wants more. He knows what the winning time at state was, and that number has been on his mind throughout the summer.
"The guy who won it all, won it with a 14," said Williams, a junior. "It was around a 14:40. I want to be able to get there."
Last year's Class 1A state champion was Jon Davis, who won with a 14:47, and Williams and Hamblen have been training with that time in mind.
Williams has been planning out his runs this season with goal times to hit each race in order to get down under the 15-minute threshold.
Hamblen, who is coming off a strong freshman year, has started to eat healthy as part of his training regimen. He caught the running bug as well, and plans on giving up basketball, a sport he played last winter at Rock Falls, to train for the running seasons.
"I'm trying to go all out," Hamblen said. "Last year, I was doing other sports, but running is my escape from the world. I'm just so happy when I'm out there. I really love it."
Last season: 23rd place at state (15:41)
Last season: 32nd place at state(15:54)