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Brady goes Vroom: Illiana Christian runner breezes to Highland Invitational title

HIGHLAND -- For runners, sometimes the race they plan to run and the race they end up running aren't the same thing.

"I remembered last year a lot of top schools didn't race their top guys; they wanted to save them for conference, so I figured it was going to be the same," Illiana Christian's Brady Vroom said at Saturday's Highland Invitational. "I was looking to run sub-16, but a lot of those schools weren't running their best guys. I went out, I didn't see any of those guys. I was kind of lacking in competition. I'm not used to running against myself, but I liked it. It was almost like running a workout, just harder."

Vroom passed George Hufendick of Harrison (West Lafayette) about 2K in and cruised to the title in 16:34.9, about eight seconds off his personal best.

"Last year, this was my first race back from quarantine, so it's nice to come back and win it," Vroom said. "I think I'm ramping up my fitness. The second half was a bit slower. I definitely could've gone harder, but I was happy with the finish."

Vikings coach Jorge Ramos called the win 'a good mental boost' for Vroom.

"I'm happy for him," Ramos said. "He's been going on a lot of visits, trying to balance that and his rest. I know that if he at least he runs his race, he's going to be in the front group. Running is peculiar. Everything has to be just right to make it happen. Once you get a kid to understand that, it's like cooking soup, what's too much, too little. The flavor is good today. Hopefully we can keep that recipe."

Harrison (88) edged Illiana (89) and Munster (91) for the team title.

"The boys are committed. They understand what it takes week to week," Ramos said. "They came in thinking they wanted to get some momentum heading into the post-season. We don't have the big numbers of some of these other teams, but we've got a lot of heart. That's what matters. You look at the big picture, it's like, where do we want to end up? Week to week, sometimes things don't work out. That's all part of it. The environment yo utry to create is critical for the team. They're putting in the work, making them understand they can have fun while they're doing it, then if you add winning to it, it doesn't get old. It's something people want to be a part of."

Nolan Bouwman was seventh, Logan Boersma 16th and Trevor Einigenberg 22nd for Illiana.

"Sometimes I think running gets a bad name," Ramos said. "Part of it is because kids sometimes are overworked. It doesn't have to be that way. There's way more to it than just the training. It has to be a commitment. Parents play a huge role in support. They buy into what we're doing. I'm blessed to be here, to have an opportunity to coach these kids. We're obviously doing some good things. You've got to set a goal or you're never going to achieve it. It doesn't matter where the bar is."

Vroom and the Vikings are looking forward to competing in their first conference meet, the Greater South Shore Conference championship, Saturday at Wheeler.

"Our first year, I think we'd be really happy to take a 'dub,'" he said. "We're not going to let our guard down. Getting to have that kind of high school experience is really nice. It's going to be exciting."

Portage's Ethan Miller placed third, followed by Wheeler's Steven Jarvis and Griffith's Joey LaPatra.

Brady Vroom of Illiana Christian won Saturday's Highland Invitational in 16:34.9.

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