Just like many kids, Lucas Capistrant always liked to run.
“I’ve been running since I was 10,” said the 17-year-old OTHS senior.
However, he did not run cross country or track his freshman year of high school, but opted to go out the next year.
“He first showed up the summer before sophomore year,” OTHS coach Jon Burnett recalled. “He quickly moved up on the team. He even earned a spot on the postseason roster.”
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His junior year, Capistrant moved into the top seven on the cross country team and used his track season to gain speed.
“After a great summer of training, Lucas moved up quickly in the area and Southern Illinois,” Burnett said.
This season, Capistrant placed fourth at the Granite City Invitational and 12th at the Parkway West Invitational.
But the Granite City Sectional on Saturday was the coming out party for Capistrant, this week’s O’Fallon Progress Athlete of the week.
“He exploded at the sectional,” Burnett said.
Capistrant finished the race in second place, just four-hundredths of a second behind the winner, Granite City’s Andrew O’Keefe, who was running on his home course at Wilson Park. Officially, O’Keefe’s time was 14:56.34, a new course record. Capistrant crossed the line at 14:56.38. The old course record was 14:58 by Garrett Sweatt of Edwardsville.
Capistrant, the son of Georgia and Kirk Capistrant, is “an unassuming kid” when he walks the halls of OTHS, according to Burnett.
“No one would pick him out as being one of the top athletes in the school,” his coach said, adding that, “He works hard in the classroom and gets solid grades.”
Capistrant said his work to become a better runner has also made him a better student.
“It’s made me a lot more hard-working,” he said. “It used to be, if I didn’t like doing something, I would barely do it or not care to do it wrong. Now I realize how far working hard can get you and have been working a lot harder than I had been.”
But cross country isn’t all about work. It’s enjoyable, too.
“I find running fun and enjoy the people and the atmosphere that it brings,” Capistrant.
Still, Capistrant pushes himself physically, his coach said, testing his limits, both in practice and on race day.
“Every so often, he will do something that makes his teammates say, ‘Look at Cappy!’” Burnett said.
“The hard work at practice also helps me do well in races,” said Capistrant.
And there’s one more race to go — the IHSA 3A State Championship meet in Peoria’s Detweiller Park this Saturday.
“The sectional meet was the first time others saw what we already knew Lucas is capable of,” Burnett said. “Hopefully, soon, the state will know who he is.”