Lane Lewallen went to a basketball game at Kankakee Valley last winter, the school where he is the girls cross country coach.
After a great 2010 campaign, where the Kougars won the Northwest Crossroads Conference title along with a sectional championship, Lewallen was counting on Allison Rockley to lead a small and young team this fall.
Rockley, though, was on crutches. And not real happy.
"I was not very livable," Rockley said. "I was so depressed."
Rockley had a torn meniscus in her left knee. A long cold winter of discontent and rehab helped the knee heal. But during track season Rockley was not rock'n.
"I was not close to being healthy," she said.
She said she did not feel 100 percent until the middle of July. A training plan of more than 700 miles on the road got the feet moving.
And heading into today's New Prairie Invitational, a young K.V. team hopes to continue surprising the crowd.
"Ally is everything that's right about high school athletics," Lewallen said. "She comes from a great family, is an outstanding young lady and a very good student.
"She's really been our leader. She's quiet, a thinker. Her actions say all that she needs to say."
Rockley has finished eighth at three big invitationals -- at North White, McCutcheon and Lowell, where she ran a season-best 20:58.
Rockley's best time at New Prairie is a 20:27. She hopes to beat that time today, which will be her fourth race at the semistate course.
"I love running up hills so I love New Prairie," Rockley said. "The competition there is always really good so that gets me going."