Running ahead

Tom Batters
Lindsey Beyer and Priya Maillacheruvu

When they were seventh graders, Lindsey Beyer and Priya Maillacheruvu did not like to run that much.

“I was pretty bad at it,” said Maillacheruvu, smiling. “They just put me in the races that didn’t matter, and hoped that I would finish eventually.”

Beyer said she was intimidated by the long races.

“I thought, ‘Oh my, two miles is so long,’ and the three-mile races really scared me,” she said.

Maillacheruvu and Beyer are now seniors on the Dunlap cross country team, and the long distances do not scare them anymore.

In fact, they look forward to running for miles and pushing themselves to see how much further they can go.

Maillacheruvu, who is dealing with an ankle injury, has her sights set on breaking the 19-minute mark and qualifying for the state meet in November. Her fastest time last year was 19:06.

“I’m going to get my ankle looked at. I’m hoping it’s not anything serious, so I won’t have to sit out for too long,” she said. “I’d really like to break 19 minutes and see where that takes me.”

Beyer is training to run a marathon in the spring, and she said she would like to become a serious marathon runner after she graduates.

“It’s going to be a ton of work, but running has turned into something I love so much,” she said. “I love to get at that perfect pace when you feel like you can go forever.”

Both seniors are behind the pace of their teammate, sophomore Leah Brooks, who qualified for state last year as a freshman. But, they use that as inspiration.

“Leah is a great motivator,” Beyer said. “Her success makes everyone want to succeed. Plus, she’s a great person. We all love having her as our teammate.”

Brooks finished first at the Dunlap Invitational Saturday.

Dunlap coach Joe Wenskus, who started the cross country program in 1986, said Beyer and Maillacheruvu will always hold a special place in his heart, regardless of where they finish or how fast they run.

“They’re both really good kids,” he said. “They are true leaders, and they have their heads in the right place.”

Wenskus places a lot of responsibility on Beyer and Maillacheruvu, and he said they handle it very well.

 “They do a lot of things in practice and on race days to help their teammates get ready,” he said.

Both are A students with ambitious plans after high school.

Maillacheruvu said she plans to major in biology and enroll in a pre-med program. Beyer said she plans to major in either biochemistry or aeronautical engineering.

“They’re very smart girls, but they are down to earth. They each have their own unique personality,” Wenskus said. “Lindsay is more outgoing, and Priya is more reserved and quiet.

She’s talked a lot more this year, though. I enjoy being around both of them, and I’ll miss them after they graduate.”

Cross country notes

• C.J. Elward finished ninth overall and the Peoria Notre Dame boys team finished 21st at the Richard Spring Invitational at Detweiller Park Saturday. The Notre Dame girls team, led by Maggie Clark, finished 21st.

• Johnny Crain finished second overall and the Dunlap boys team finished seventh at the Dunlap Invitational Saturday. Trevor Johnson of Richwoods finished 10th overall and the Knights' boys team finished eighth. The Richwoods girls team, led by Dana Stowell, finished eighth.