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Duber: Rodriguez off to blazing start at Aurora U.

Published: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 10:42 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 11:06 p.m. CDT

Even with all the records she’s broken this season, Lisa Rodriguez still has more she wants to accomplish.

The Aurora University sprinter – a Sugar Grove native who attended both Aurora Christian and Aurora Central Catholic – has broken 10 school records, been named athlete of the week three times and ranks just outside the top 30 nationally for Division III in the 400-meter dash.

And, oh yeah, she’s done all this as a freshman.

“It’s crazy, it’s really crazy,” Rodriguez said. “I’m surprised that I’ve done so much, but it’s all because of my teammates and coaches. They’ve trained me and have gotten me to where I am right now. It’s a good feeling, a really great feeling to come and take down really good records.”

The thing still left on her to-do list is to get to the national championships. The top 22 times in the country make it to the D-III national championships, and Rodriguez’s time of 57.1 seconds — a school record, conference record and conference meet record — currently ranks 31st. As things stand now, she’d miss a trip by .25 seconds.

Rodriguez is also a member of the 4x100-meter relay team that ranks 21st in the country. The top 16 teams go to nationals, and Aurora trails by .08 seconds.

There’s one last chance to climb the ranks on Friday for Rodriguez, individually and as part of that relay squad, one last chance to add another impressive accomplishment to the ever-growing list.

“My No. 1 goal was to go to nationals as a freshman because not a lot of people can say that,” she said.

Sprinters live in those tenths, even hundredths of seconds, so it’s not a huge surprise to see the times so close. And while Rodriguez’s success out of the gate in her college career is definitely striking, she had plenty of momentum from her high school days, earning all-state honors and winning a 2011 state championship with her 4x200-meter relay teammates.

It’s her time at Aurora Central Catholic — her last two years of high school — that she credits for the sprinter she’s become.

“They shaped me and molded me, they gave me constructive criticism. The workouts they did and how to use my talent and my speed wisely and to my benefit, they’ve really helped me come to where I’m at right now,” Rodriguez said. “We practice at Aurora Central during the week, and it’s nice to see all the girls I used to run with, how they’re doing, how the program is doing. I give a lot a credit to what my past teammates and coaches have done for me throughout the years.”

Regardless of whether or not Rodriguez reaches the national championships, it’s been an outstanding first season at Aurora. Success is coming off the track, as well, as the elementary education major was happy to report she earned all A’s and B’s in her first semester. But there’s still that one accomplishment that can make Year 1 near perfect, and there’s one final opportunity to close that .25-second gap.

“It’s right there, it’s right in front of me,” Rodriguez said. “I just have to go out there and work for it.”

• Vinnie Duber writes the weekly On Campus column for the Kane County Chronicle. If you have a column idea about area athletes competing in college, contact him at vinnieduber@gmail.com.

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