Hockey Player Turns Track Star
By Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Growing up, Ashland’s Will Child primarily found himself on the ice, but when it was time to go into high school his mother had other ideas.
As he entered the ninth grade, he found out that his mother had signed him up for cross country and there was no way to get out of it.
“She told me that I couldn’t just stay home and do nothing, so she signed me up for high school cross country,” Child said. “That first practice I didn’t like it at all, it was just too hard, and I really didn’t care for it. My mother wouldn’t let me quit. Instead, she told me that I would be in the best shape ever, so I had to stick with it.”
About a month into the season, Child realized that he was fast and was posting a 17:56 time in the 5K. The coaching staff as well as his teammates began to push the non-believing runner. Once again, he was still not buying into it, but continued to participate because he had to.
As a cross-country runner for Ashland, Child found himself as the number seven runner at the beginning of the year, but by the time the season wrapped up he found himself bouncing back and forth between the second and third fastest runners for the Clockers. His personal best in the 5K was a 17:06.
When the winter season ended the Ashland defenseman had to hang his skates up and take to the track once again, this time for the spring season. Having already run cross-country he figured that the mile and 2-mile would be somewhat comparable races. Just as quickly as he hated cross-country, he came to hate running track.
“I thought it would be easier as it was a shorter race, but it was harder than cross-country,” he said. “I had the stamina, not so much the speed, so I had to really adjust my running.”
As a freshman he ran a 5-minute mile and an 11:02 2-mile. At the Holliston meet, he got his mile time to under 5 minutes posting a 4:59 and then immediately ran the 2-mile crossing the finish line at 10:52.
It was here that he decided that he would run one, not both of the races, so he asked his coach what the better fit was. From then on, Child would focus all his energy on the 2-mile and thus changed his workouts.
“Will really improve a lot almost a full second from the fall to the spring, in his first year. Posting a 10:24 in the 2-mile with an even split is remarkable for a freshman and he has been doing it consistently,” said volunteer assistant Will Brinegar (Brinegar along with Emily Reilly works with the distance runners). “If he remains patient, while staying healthy he has a real shot at becoming one of the better runners over the next four years.”
According to Brinegar, Child was one of three freshmen to make the Tri-Valley League 2-mile final. Although it was quite an accomplishment for a freshman, Child believes that he could have finished with a better time had he known what he was up against.
“It was my first league meet and I really didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t want to start out to fast and lose it near the end, so I was running slower,” he said. “I lost track of the lap number and came into the last lap not realizing it was the last lap and I was sprinting until the last 50 meters or so. If I knew what was going on I definitely would have finished with a better time.”
Advancing into the Divisional 4 meet, the freshman runner felt slow and heavy, but when he saw that he had run a 5:10 after the first mile he figured that he could actually post a personal best time in the race. Running over the last 200-meters he said felt like he was going to throw up but pushed through and crossed the line with a 10:24.
According to the Coach, Child was one of four freshmen participating in the race, where he finished ahead of two of them and only 11 seconds behind the other.
With a rather successful track season, the soon-to-be sophomore is planning on running more come next year.
“I’m not going to take part in hockey next year. It was just way too early for me to be getting up in the morning to go to practice and then going to school,” Child said. “I figured that I’d be better off running. This summer I’m going to put some mileage on my feet and getting ready for the cross-country season.”
With three years of running left in the high school level, Child is hoping that he can break a 17-minute 5K in cross country and a 10-minute 2-mile. He would also like to make it to a National Meet.
“He is a quiet kid with a big heart and he works really hard to do what it takes,” Brinegar said. “He has a great opportunity to be really good and will become an example for the program.”