adidas marathon Allysa Combs stick together
Archbishop Spalding girls cross country coach Mike Ward knows a thing or two about talented runners, having coached at the University of Miami for 16 years.
When he heard he had a pair of talented freshman runners coming in the fall of 2016 in Lacey Eden and Allysa Combs, he was slightly skeptical.
“A couple of people told me, ‘Oh we have a couple of good girls coming in next year’ and I was thinking that what you think is good and what I think is good are two different ballgames,” Ward said.
Ward did a little research and was blown away from what he learned, particularly the fact that Eden had run a 4:35 for 1500 meters in eighth grade, a time better than most high school girls run.
Upon their arrival, Eden and Combs did not disappoint as they excelled throughout the season, culminating with first and third place finishes, respectively, in the IAAM championships.
The pair have continued that success in their sophomore campaigns, as they have defeated all challengers and are primed to replicate their performances at the IAAM Championship coming up on Oct. 24 at Stevenson University.
They took different avenues on their way to becoming two of the top runners in the conference. Combs was a competitive swimmer who was struggling to drop times and decided to try something else. For Eden, a surprise performance in a charity race in elementary school propelled her into running.
“One time I was in fifth grade and we went to this 5k fundraiser for school” Eden said. “I was running in those Adidas Samba soccer shoes and then I ended up winning the race for the girls, so my mom was like, ‘Maybe we should actually get her some running shoes’, so that’s how I got into the running thing.”
Eden’s first love is ice hockey and she has been juggling her time on the all star travel team, the Washington Little Capitals, with preparing for cross country. The multi sport action is helping Eden excel at both sports.
“They are both so different sports because you usually see hockey players as these big bulky guys and then runners as skinny and small,” Eden said. “I just think that they work different muscles and it’s just helping me overall become a better athlete in both sports.”
Eden and Combs have asserted themselves as not only two of the most dominant runners in the IAAM, but also against other top local competition.
At the Barnhart Invitational in Cockeysville this year, Eden won the race in 19:20.70, while Combs came in second in 19:37.70. Kamryn Eveleth and Catie Cambon of Severna Park, who won the team portion of that race, were third and fourth, 12 plus seconds behind Combs.
At the Spiked Shoe Invitational held at Stevenson University, Eden and Combs went 1 2 again, Eden finishing in 19:20.50 and Combs finishing in 19:28.18. South River won the team portion, but their top runner, freshmen Brownwyn Patterson, finished seventh, 26 plus seconds behind Combs.
The pair have grown accustomed to being together for the majority of the race and are reliant on each other for success.
“I guess you just have to have trust in your coaches and you have your teammates to help you and we are constantly pushing each other to get better,” Combs said. “We both know if we are not with each other then something is the matter. It’s a lot of motivation personally because you want to be with a teammate, but also I think physically if either one of us are falling back we will let each other know.”
The methodology of pushing each other has also helped Eden and Combs go 1 2 in all of the IAAM meets they have competed in, going 6 1 over the course of the season.
Their only loss came via a sixth runner tiebreaker against Maryvale Prep when the teams tied with 29 points, but Maryvale’s sixth runner finished ahead of Archbishop Spalding’s which it should be noted was missing its fourth best runner due to a college visit that day.
“I just think Coach Ward has us doing the correct workouts for preparation for the race and as long as we are pushing ourselves and pushing each other we should be fine,” Eden said. “Instead of just running by myself, we both take turns setting the pace so we are always pushing each other to run faster.”
With the IAAM championships less than two weeks away, the pair, as well as coach Ward, know they certainly won’t be sneaking up on the competition this year.
With their competitive natures, Ward believes that being the favorites will benefit them due to their desire to win.
“They are very competitive with the mentality that they don’t want to lose, it goes a long way,” Ward said. “Especially, I think with girls and some of the other things going on and just that drive to say, ‘I ain’t letting this girl beat me, or this girl beat me. They are pretty competitive.”
With all that on their side, it’s hard to imagine that they won’t run side by side past their competition on the way to first and second place at the championship.