Lisa Cook first embraced distance running when she was Lisa Phillips, a Batavia student still deciding whether she preferred volleyball to track.
The 10th anniversary of her high school graduation is coming up, and Cook couldn’t be more proud of her production on pavement.
Earlier this month, Cook was the women’s winner at the Wisconsin Marathon, traversing the Kenosha-centered course in 3:04.39. While the time didn’t mark her personal best, Cook held her ground on her gender through the final stretch, something she couldn’t say about last year’s effort in Wisconsin.
“I really just didn’t want to get caught at the end, and was just kind of driven by winning the marathon,” Cook said. “I don’t now how many opportunities I’ll get to do that.”
Cook and Chicago resident Karrie Hamstra-Wright both broke the previous course record at the 2012 Wisconsin Marathon. Cook held the edge until about the 21st mile, when she sensed herself tiring. Her finishing time of 2:59:06 marked a PR in seven marathon starts, but still fell short of Hamstra-Wright’s 2:57:57.
With Hamstra-Wright not entered in this year’s race, held May 4, Cook topped her nearest competitor – Jennifer Benitez of Carol Stream – by nearly two minutes.
The victory proved a nice conversation piece for Cook’s proteges. A visual arts teacher at Oswego East, Cook is in her second season as head girls track coach. She took the reins of the Wolves’ girls cross country program last fall.
“It’s pretty exciting to see on that end,” Cook said. “I know what running means to me and I know what it means to the kids I get to coach and be around.”
At Batavia, Cook competed in volleyball and track through her junior year before electing to focus solely on track as she attracted college interest.
A multiple state qualifier, Cook finished third in the 3,200 meters in Class AA in 2003. She ran for a time at Illinois, but did not pursue marathon running until the end of college.
“I kind of always knew that I was better at running than I was at volleyball, but I loved both sports,” Cook said. “When I had seen volleyball take its course, I knew that running was there for me.”
She doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.
Litany of Saints at state: St. Charles East won all four relays at last week’s Class 3A West Aurora Girls Track and Field Sectional, paving the way for a surprise team title.
The Saints enter today’s state meet preliminaries at Eastern Illinois’ O’Brien Stadium in Charleston carrying a healthy supply of momentum, not to mention nine indidivudal qualifiers to complement the relays.
“Just to think about where we were at the beginning of the season and where we are now, it’s phenomenal,” East senior sprinter Britney Williams said. “I mean, so many girls qualified, and it was just so exciting to watch all of them. And I was cheering right before my races.”
• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or email@example.com.