Girls Cross Country

Freshman Hailey Haveck holds promise for Morgan Township cross country

2013-09-27T17:00:00Z 2013-09-28T15:32:06Z Freshman Hailey Haveck holds promise for Morgan Township cross countryJim Peters jim.peters@nwi.com, (219) 548-4363 nwitimes.com
September 27, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

For Hailey Haveck, standing still is never an option.

"I have to be busy all the time," the Morgan Township freshman said. "When I'm not, I'm like, what am I going to do with myself?"

Growing up in a competitive, athletic household, where mom Tonya and dad Eric play softball and run half-marathons, Haveck first got involved sports, joining softball at age 6. A few years later, it was soccer. Her first experience with running came in fifth grade, when she participated in the Little Cherokee race.

"I got the satisfaction of being in the front of the pack," said Haveck, who finished second in the run.

By the time she was in middle school, Haveck added cross country to an already heaping sports plate. She quickly drew the attention of Morgan coach Kellee Hitz, finishing fifth in the Porter County Conference meet in eighth grade.

"I heard she might not run," Hitz said. "I do little things in middle school to get them all together. Last year, the last week of practice, we invited the kids to run with us, to meet the girls and see if they like it."

At week's end, Haveck told Hitz she planned to run in high school. It turned out to be a package deal as fraternal twin Mariah came along.

"We have a very small team," said Hitz, who has a roster of eight. "We're like a family. A lot of them enjoy that. They really feel a part of something. It's hard to feel important when you're in the mix with so many kids."

The transition from middle school can be hard, even for the top kids. They go from 1.9-mile races to 3.1. Practice mileage increases substantially and the spike in competition is significant.

"It's a huge adjustment," said Hitz, who ran at Morgan.

On top of that, Haveck played soccer this season. The sport, which holds club status at the school, had to pull the plug on a truncated schedule when injuries depleted its modest roster. Mariah Haveck was among the casualties, breaking her clavicle.

"I feel her pain," Hailey said. "I'm not as strong as my sister. Running's a mental sport. When I'm hurting, it's hard for me to tell myself to do it. I know I have to run with pain, that it will go away when I'm finished."

Haveck also is learning the distinction between running and racing, finding the balance of not starting too fast, yet not having too much left in the stretch.

"Pacing has probably been the hardest thing," she said. "I have a tendency to sprint at the beginning, go really slow in the middle and sprint at the end. Having more people around, I have more to focus on and I go quicker to try to stay with the better girls."

Despite her inexperience, Haveck has shot up Morgan's record board. She ran a personal-best 21:09 at New Prairie a week ago, 1:11 off Ellen Turman's school mark.

"I didn't know how well I'd do at first," Haveck said. "I was thinking, 'What time am I going to get?, What time should I be at?' I think I'm doing pretty good, especially as a freshman. I still have a lot to learn, but I'm getting better."

Hitz thinks Haveck's best days are to come, though her decision on what sports to do will be crucial.

"It's hard with soccer. There's a lot of sprinting as opposed to distance," Hitz said. I know what it's like (doing two sports in one season). I try to be flexible. Sometimes, it's too much. I think she will continue to improve, but this won't be her best year. She will grow throughout her career."

Haveck, who doesn't turn 15 until February, enjoys soccer, so she's not sure what the future holds.

"I have to give it more thought before next season," she said.

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