Boyertown junior Dylan Eddinger's main sport is ice hockey. His coach suggested he play another sport to help with the conditioning - his recommendation was either lacrosse or track. So come spring of his freshman year, he decided to give track a try. He started out running the 400, 4x400 and other smaller sprints.
He's been playing hockey since he was five years old, but the endurance of running has really helped him out on the ice. Dylan feels that he's less fatigued when he's on the ice now that he runs in the off-season.
"I always thought I could be a good runner, and I had an excellent season my first time,' said Eddinger. "I qualified for nationals in the 400, and the Penn Relays was amazing experience.'This year he decided that he'd give cross country a try. Afterall, he needed to stay in shape in the fall for the winter hockey and spring track seasons.
Boyertown cross country coach, Steve Fegely had heard of the success that Dylan had in spring track, so he suspected that he was getting a real talent. Once he saw him in action, he knew it.
"Although Eddinger was our number one runner right from the first scrimmage meets, with Exeter and Daniel Boone, it took a little bit for him to figure out his pacing and how to race against opponents,' said Fegely. Eddinger is surprised by how well he's doing, although he does have a huge competitive drive. Losing is not an option for him. Still, he always thought of himself as a mid-distance runner.
"I never imaged myself driving this team,' said Eddinger. "But, I'm glad I'm doing what I can to help Boyertown out.'
He proved his worth at the PAC-10 Championship Run when he finished third overall individually - not bad for his first season.
"Of course, at the beginning of the season, it was a pipe dream for me to consider him the number three guy in the entire league,' said Fegely. "I knew he was going to make a big name for himself in the PAC-10 and I knew the ability to excel was there.'
Dylan gives a lot of credit to the team captains, John Bennett and Dalton Meredith, who really are the leaders of this team. The two captains have been pushing Dylan all season. The three are a group when they go out on runs, and they try to stay together to help motivate each other. Eddinger feels that they are a good pack.
"He has made them better,' said Fegely. "It's a great position to be in, when you can talk about pack running. I can think of the one pod with Eddinger, Duckey, and Johnny, and a second pod with Lance, Eli, Bryon, and Weiser. It's a tough varsity squad for opponents to deal with at this point in the season.'
The bond that Eddinger has with the two captains is very strong, and they hang out outside of practice as well. He knows that when it's time to work, they all get down to business."We all work hard together and push each other,' said Eddinger. "We all put in what we can to reach our full potential.'The biggest advice Eddinger gets from his captains is to work hard through to the end of the race. They also tell him that what he puts into practice will give him results in races. Eddinger feels that it's not hard to take advice from them because he's established a great relationship. He also notes that the three of them see eye to eye on almost everything.He has taken that advice and run with it. One of the things that has made Eddinger so successful this fall is his ability to keep running hard to the very end."I give it everything I have left to reach that finish line,' said Eddinger. "I'm usually sprinting the last 100 to 200 meters of the race. I don't feel that I've given it all I have unless I do that.'
"His grittiness in hockey has translated very well into cross country,' said Fegely. "He won't give up and will battle the entire 3.1 miles. He may only be a first-year cross-country runner, but his experiences and mentality are those of a veteran harrier.'A perfect example of that was his performance in the PAC-10 Championship Run.
"We pushed each other the whole way through,' said Eddinger. "When I would slow down, they would pick it up a bit and I felt that I had to pick it up. It was a drive all the way to the finish.
"Towards the end of the race, they started their kick and both of them passed me. Towards the very end, I knew that I had to kick it to show them what I had in this race. I gave it my all. I felt pleased.'
When the race was over, Eddinger finished third. He was pleased, but not ultimately satisfied with the result. His goal was second place.This week, Eddinger will be participating in the district meet which are being held at Lehigh University. Dylan isn't nervous about going to districts because he feels that he's in his element right now. He just wants to keep it going. Knowing how close he was to winning the PAC-10 Championship gave him the confidence he needed to do well at the district meet.
"We're (himself, Bennett and Meredith) are going to try to be one of the top five teams there ,so our team can go to states, as well as individuals,' said Eddinger. "We're going to be working twice as hard.'
Fegely feels that he is getting better with each race, so see big things out of him in the District race. It isn't as challenging of terrain as Heebner Park was, but you are up against the best of the entire District."He thrives in those challenges,' said Fegely.