Althoff's Ames ponders which sport to choose

News-DemocratMay 6, 2013 

To most high school athletes having the opportunity to earn a college scholarship is a dream. To be gifted enough to have earn a scholarship in two sports is a fantasy. Or is it?

For as long as Althoff High School junior Savannah Ames can remember, her first love has been soccer. One of the most versatile players on the Crusaders team, Ames has played almost every position on the field and is currently one of the top sweeper backs in the South Seven Conference.

Ames is also one of the premier distance runners in the state. Finishing fifth in the 1,600 meters at the Class 1A State Track Meet a year ago and 19th at the Class 1A State Cross Country Meet last fall, Ames will more then likely be an NCAA Division I runner in two years if she chooses to be one.

The daughter of Dr. Ron and Susan Ames, she isn't looking forward to making the decision. Will it be soccer or track and field and cross country at the college level?

"I'm dreading that day because I don't want to make that decision,'' Ames said. "Part of me wants to do soccer because I love it so much. I would never regret making that decision. But where I would go with the educational opportunities and just opportunities in general would be lessened if I didn't do track at a Division I school.

"My dad is always telling me that it's great to be able to do what you want to do. But there comes a time that you do what you need to do. I don't know. It's a constant battle inside my head.''

Hopefully making a life-altering decision won't be on Ames mind this week as her junior year in both soccer and track and field heads into the postseason.

On Wednesday, Ames and the Crusaders will take on Columbia in the semifinals of the Class 1A Columbia Soccer Regional. On Friday, Ames will compete in the 1,600 meters at the Class 1A Sparta Track and Field Sectional.

"My best time in the 1,600 meters is 5 minutes, 16 seconds but I think it's like 5:36 this year. It's about where I was last year at this time,'' Ames said. "I think I'm prepared for the sectional. Brittney Burmester, of Red Bud, will be there. She's good and I know her from cross country. Hopefully she'll be there to push me.

"I think I'll be more focused when I get to the state meet. We're in the soccer playoffs this week and I'm really excited about that.''

While Ames long-range future is probably on the track, she has spent more time on the soccer field. One of the leaders on a Crusaders team, which is 11-8 and the second seed at the Columbia Regional, Ames has 12 points on three goals and six assists this season.

"I'm enjoying playing the sweeper position. I like being back there and kind of directing things on the defensive side of the field,'' Ames said. "Alot of my good friends are on the soccer team so its a lot of fun. We've got a long of young players but it's been a good year.

Althoff soccer coach Juergen Huettner thinks Ames could play college soccer.

"There is no doubt in my mind Savannah can play at the college level,'' Huettner said. "She's a good athlete who picks up things very quickly and she's done an excellent job for us.

"I know competing in two sports during the same season isn't any easy thing for her to do. But she's handled it well. Plus she's a great kid and a great student.''

Ames said her schedule is a full one all year long but especially in the spring.

"I basically run, go to school, play soccer, eat and sleep. Oh, and I study too,'' Ames said. "Wednesday's are the worst days. We have what is called Late Day at Althoff when classes don't start until 9:15.

"I get up early, got on a 4 to 5 mile run, come home to eat and shower, go to school, practice soccer for two hours then come home to eat, study and sleep,'' Ames said. "I don't really mind doing two sports right now. I just don't have any down time.

I'm either, running, playing soccer, going to school, studying, sleeping or eating.''

Ames was introduced to running by her mom Susan. She also had an uncle who ran in the prestigious Boston Marathon.

"My uncle Bob was a runner and he ran in the Boston Marathon before. My parents went up to see him one year and they were so inspired by the race, the crowd and the atmosphere that my mom started to run and do marathons,'' Ames said. She asked me to come out and run with her one day just to see how I liked it.

"We're running and all of a sudden she sees that I'm breathing through my nose. "I'm like, what? She said that was good because it meant I could be a good runner."

Ames then ran her first cross country race as a freshman.

"I had no clue what it was about. But somehow running up and down hills for 4 to 5 miles didn't sound like much fun to me,'' Ames said. "I like cross country and I love my teammates. You have kids from all the possible different groups in school. You've got your athletes, but you've also got the real smart kids, the kids who are in the band and in the science club. It's fun to get to know different people.''

Among the colleges Ames has already started to look at are Loyola of Chicago and Vanderbilt, which is in Nashville, Tenn.

"I have to be at five minutes for the mile for Vanderbilt. I think I could do that if I ever trained just for running,'' Ames said. "I don't know. My parents are always telling me don't waste a gift. So I would say I'm leaning towards running at the college level. I feel like God gave me this gift to be able to run and I don't want to waste it. But sometimes it comes down to what you want to do."

But she can do more than play soccer and run. She also is at home in the water.

Ames, who swims for the St. Clair Country Club Bananas in the summer, works as a lifeguard at St. Clair.

She also enjoys spending time with friends.

Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or dcriddle@bnd.com

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