Oak Lawn's Lindelsee Running Toward School History
After picking up running in middle school, Eric Lindelsee is looking to become the Spartans' most prolific distance runner.
Wednesday isn’t Eric Lindelsee’s favorite day of the week to run.
After three years of running at Oak Lawn, Lindelsee—a rising senior—has learned what comes with Wednesdays: speed workouts.
More specifically, mile repeats. Four laps around the track. Four minutes of rest. Repeat … six times. It’s the workout Lindelsee hates the most, but he continues to push through the miles.
That’s how Lindelsee broke out as a state-caliber runner last season, winning a conference championship and becoming only the fourth runner from Oak Lawn to advance to the IHSA state meet. There, he placed 67th overall, finishing in 15:12, the second-fastest time in school history for three miles.
“He’s definitely the strongest running talent that this school has seen in a very long time, probably since the (1970s) or (1980s) in terms of pure running talent,” said Chris Repa, Oak Lawn’s cross country coach.
A Runner By Accident
In middle school, Lindelsee wanted to play basketball. Cross country was just going to be a way to get in shape. He took second place in his first race, and it’s safe to say his basketball career has been put on hold ever since.
Lindelsee started training with Oak Lawn during the summer before entering as a freshman three years ago.
“It was pretty obvious at that point that he was very talented, very skilled in the art of running,” Repa said. “His form was solid, his endurance was pretty good and his aggression toward wanting to do his best in the workouts was pretty high.”
It didn’t take long for Lindelsee to break through into Oak Lawn’s top seven runners.
“The middle of my freshman season, that’s when I started running varsity and I’ve been running varsity ever since,” Lindelsee said. “My very first race was 18:21 for three miles.”
Since the move to varsity, Lindelsee has increased his mileage and upped his training each year. He’s now putting in more than 70 miles of running each week this summer.
“He’s one of those runners we have to hold back from doing too much, which is a different beast,” Repa said. “He’ll do as much as he physically can until he falls down and can’t go any further.”
Lindelsee takes Sunday off each week, choosing to just relax and be with his family or teammates. But he admitted that he’ll still go for a run if he’s feeling good.
Everything hasn’t been smooth sailing for Lindelsee, though. He was born deaf, receiving a cochlear implant when he was very young.
“I had a lot of learning to do when I was younger,” Lindelsee said. “I’ve done a lot to cope with it.”
He never wore the aid during races, though, choosing to watch the smoke from the starter’s gun at the beginning. But that became an issue at last year’s state championships.
“We had to make special arrangements to have an official on the course with a flag who would drop the flag when the gun went off because the starter was behind the field, and Eric couldn’t see the smoke,” Repa said.
Lindelsee heads into his senior year with big expectations for himself. He wants to get back to the state meet and finish in the top 25, which would earn him all-state honors. In order to get there, he’ll most likely have to drop his three-mile time under 15 minutes, meaning the school record of 14:51 would be within reach.
Also in Lindelsee’s sights is a running scholarship to a Division I university. Right now, Lindelsee says he has been getting interest from a number of small schools.
“Me and my coach agree that I’m at a Division II level (right now), but I believe in myself that I can get to a Division I level runner eventually depending on how well I do this season,” Lindelsee said.
When the season starts in late August, the mile repeats won’t stop. In fact, they’ll only get harder. Four laps of running. Three minutes of rest. Repeat … six times.
But that’s what Lindelsee wants, what he knows he has to do.
“My coach makes sure I’m pushing myself to the limits, getting workouts, making sure I’m going beyond the wall because that’s how you get better,” Lindelsee said.