By Craig Pearson
TERRE HAUTE — Doc Brown told an old-timer in a saloon in “Back to the Future III” that despite having automobiles in the future people run for recreation.
“Run for fun? What the [heck] kind of fun is that?” the saloon patron asked.
For Kylee Thacker of Northview, last year’s foot injuries put a dent in her recreation time.
Thacker doesn’t want to go back to 1985 like Marty McFly — she actually can’t since she was born in 1990, and the jury’s still out on the possibility of time travel — but Thacker wouldn’t mind going back in time to 2007 when she was healthy and among the state’s distance runners.
Being in a boot for six months as she was last year was not fun. But despite suffering three stress fractures in her right foot, two in her heel one in the metatarsal, Thacker recently signed to run at Indiana State.
During that standout sophomore season, Thacker took 37th in the 2007 IHSAA state cross country finals at LaVern Gibson, broke the school record in the 3,200 (11:20) on the track, won the Western Indiana Conference and reached the state finals on the track. Thacker also has school records in cross country in the 4K (15:36) and 5K (19:04).
Going from running 40 to 50 miles a week to nothing wasn’t easy.
“My friends tried to keep me entertained — my closest friends aren’t runners so they always keep me entertained,” a “very excited” Thacker said the day she signed her national letter-of-intent. “I always wanted to run Division I.”
About six weeks ago, Thacker got back to training and the foot’s been feeling strong.
ISU women’s track and cross country coach John Gartland sees great potential.
“She has had a long stretch of being injured but she has remained positive in her approach to everything,” Gartland said. “If she can return to her form of 2007 next year, she will run in our top five in cross country.”
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Thacker is one of seven to sign to run for the Sycamores next year:
• Jasmyn Hudgins is a state champion from Wisconsin in the 200 meters, and her best time of 24.55 ranks eighth best in Wiconsin high school history. Her 11.89 in the 100 ranks fifth all-time.
“She will immediately come in and be our top short sprinter next year,” Gartland said. “She is an outstanding athlete.”
• Leeann Michl of Newton, Ill., has earned five All-State medals in her first three years in the IHSA state finals. She has school records in the 200 (25.64), 400 (57.59), 800 (2:15.78) and 1,600 (5:31).
“We project her to be one of our finest 800 runners ever. She is blessed with a beautiful running stride and should excel wherever we put her.”
• Macey Black is a three-time Class 1A all-stater out of Pleasant Hill, Ill., running personal bestts of 12.34 in the 100 and 26.10 in the 200.
• Richelle Kimble is a pole vaulter from Lowell, Mich., finishing as Division I runner-up in with a jump of 11-feet-3 inches. She is also a competitive gymnast.
“We expect her to blossom as a vaulter in our environment,” Gartland said. “She should contend for an All-MVC spot right away.”
n Shalesa Smith of Milwaukee, Wis., is a two-time third-place finisher in the triple jump in Wisconsin, while also running the lead leg of a third-place 400-meter relay team in 2007. Her best long jump is 17-5.
• Hannah Mercer of Northridge High School finished 40th in the 2008 state cross country meet at LaVern Gibson, finishing in 19:25.99.
“I feel fortunate that we were able to recruit her late in the fall,” Gartland said. “She has a chance to be in our cross country top five next fall.”
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ISU men’s coach John McNichols was able to sign three talented athletes as well.
With distance runners Kyle Smiley of New Prairie and Derek Stinefield of Wapahani, ISU has added depth to its track and cross country teams.
“Combined with last year’s recruiting class, we have five of the top nine milers at the state meet last year,” McNichols said. “And we are still looking at several others who could come in and compete well for us.”
Smiley was ninth last year and Stinefield fourth in the mile, Smiley running in 4:24.76 and Stinfield 4:21.62.
Sprinter Jared Miller of Bremen was fourth in the 100 and eighth in the 200 at the 2008 state meet.
Craig Pearson can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone after 4 p.m. at (812) 231-4356.