LUCY LUX-RULON didn’t go far to start a college track and field career after graduating from St. Thomas More in 2018, suiting up with Illinois in the high and long jumps at the Big Ten indoor meet. She checks in:
How did you feel about your first season at Illinois?
I had a great indoor season. I redshirted and saved the outdoor. But as far as my indoor season went, it was a great experience. Just traveling and being able to be with your team was a whole different experience from high school — you travel to the next town over, but not to surrounding states. As far as my marks went, I was very pleased with my PRs. Every meet I traveled to for indoor, I got quicker and quicker on my hurdle times. I improved in the long jump. It was great to see how training for your fall semester, how much that little piece with your coach could do.
What went behind the decision to redshirt?
I had a little bit of a stress reaction going on with my foot. I’m now training for the heptathlon, so redshirting outdoors gives me a little bit of time to sit out and focus on training for these other events.
When did the heptathlon come up with your Illinois coaches?
We had always talked about it in my recruitment. For the first year, we just decided to see what I could do with the events I focused in on all through high school, but it always has been in the game plan to start training for the hep.
What was it like competing at the Big Ten Indoor Championships?
It was definitely a different vibe. It’s bigger than anything I could’ve imagined. Bigger than high school state. Bigger than your first meet in the collegiate career. Once I got out on that apron, it was just like another meet.
Has anything changed in your training from your time at St. Thomas More?
We don’t jump as often as you do in high school. High school, you could have possibly three meets a week. ... In high school, you didn’t have time to train for track in the offseason, and the offseason (in college) allows you take more time and focus on different variables in your events.
How about a comparison in team dynamic?
It’s just a larger scale. With St. Thomas More’s team, we were struggling in numbers. We ranged from eight to 13 my high school career. Obviously here we have bigger numbers, but you still keep that family dynamic. NaKaya (Hughes) and I were close through high school and relied on each other through volleyball and through track. Here, you’re together with your teammates that do the same events as you every single day.