Join Chris Cavalaris as he welcomes recent cross country and track commit Brett Chody onto the show to discuss her recent decision to attend the University of Southern California.
PEORIA, Ill. — In 2014, when then freshman Brett Chody ran a 17:55 to finish 17th and earn All-State honors as a freshman in the 3A State Meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Coach Steve Clegg was pleasantly surprised by the rapid improvement of his young star. On Saturday, three years (and many trials) later and on that same fateful track where Illinois cross country legacies are defined, Brett Chody responded again. Chody, a four-time state qualifier for the sport’s biggest stage in Peoria, ran a 17:05 (5:41.4 pace per mile) on Saturday in rain-soaked conditions at Detweiller Park to earn a 15th place finish, earning her another dose of All-State recognition, the second in her career and first since her freshman season.
Glenbard West’s Katelynn Hart won the 3A race with a time of 16:22, and was then followed by Evanston’s Enyaeva Michelin and Minooka’s Emily Shelton at 16:30. Chody’s conference rival, Libertyville’s Melissa Manetsch, finished 8th overall with a time of 16:44.
The lone competing representative from Lake Forest High School on Saturday afternoon–with teammates Emily Milburn and Mary Gregg, along with her coaches cheering her on–Chody cemented her cross country legacy by racing how she always has: tough. From battling through back spasms to finish fourth at last week’s Hoffman Estates Sectional with a time of 17:34, to pacing her team to the Sectional Championship with a 5th place finish in 2015 in brutal conditions, to being the wire-to-wire winner at the 2016 Libertyville Regional, Chody has always led the Scouts with toughness and pride.
Perhaps that’s exactly how the tough-minded junior–who battled a serious injury that kept her out of her junior track season last year–would like it. Chody, who is still deciding between Duke, USC, and Northwestern, will now look ahead to her senior track season where she will showcase her stride in the 3200m run as well as the 1600m and perhaps even the 800m. If anyone could do it, it’s Lake Forest High School senior Brett Chody.
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill.– Despite finishing 4th overall and just :37 off of the lead, set by Barrington’s Jocelyn Long, senior cross country star Brett Chody was not all smiles when crossing the finish line Saturday morning at Busse Woods Forest Preserve in Hoffman Estates. Chody, a 5’6″ senior who has now qualified for the IHSA State Meet in all four of her high school cross country seasons, suffered back spasms at the 2 mile mark in Saturday’s race. Valiantly, however, Chody persevered. She will now have a chance to represent Lake Forest High School at Detweiller Park in Peoria for the fourth time in her high school career, a truly remarkable achievement.
By the numbers, Chody’s 17:34.5 on Saturday morning was the best cross country Sectional time of her career. Previously, she had posted a 17:50.7 last year at Waukegan, an 18:12.2 as a sophomore at Busse Woods, and a time of 18:25.5 as a freshman at the Kaneland 2A Sectional. Clearly, Chody has marked steady improvement over the course of her career and looks to make her biggest impact yet on the state tournament field this coming Saturday.
As mentioned prior, Barrington’s Jocelyn Long was the meet’s medalist with a time of 16:57, while Schaumburg’s Madison Marasco (17:00) and Libertyville’s Melissa Manetsch (17:02) were the only girls to cross the finish line before Chody.
Emma Millburn, a University of Illinois commit and Lake Forest’s second runner, finished with a time of 18:54.4 (45th) which fell short of state final qualification. Sophomore Nate Schmitt, who battled tirelessly in the boys race to turn in his best race of the season (15:23.3) fell just two seconds short of Zion-Benton’s Colin Luell for the last state-qualifying spot.
After a rain-soaked week in the suburbs of Chicago, the boys and girls cross country teams of Lake Forest will trek west to the IHSA Sectional Meet, hosted by Hoffman Estates High School at the Busse Woods Forest Preserve. The top three schools from each Sectional will advance to the IHSA State Final at Detweiller Park in Peoria, while the top seven individuals from the race not on an already advancing team will also move forward.
On the boys side, Hersey and Prospect–the two top teams in the Hoffman Estates Regional, who each had three runners under under 16 minutes in their last race–will face off against NSC powers Stevenson and Mundelein. The Palatine Regional Champion, Lake Zurich, who had four runners cross the finish line under 16 minutes in their Regional Championship effort at Palatine a week ago, is also vying for advancement. Needless to say, it should be a very competitive field come Sunday.
Nick Laning, a senior from Barrington, as well as Libertyville’s Alex Tam and Stevenson’s Nikita Smyrnov, who each posted times under the 15-minute mark in the Regional, will be competing for medalist honors. For the Scouts, Nate Schmitt will need to have a great race to advance as an individual if the Scouts are not to make it as a team. Look for him to push himself among the area’s elite, especially in the second and third miles of the race. In all, 28 teams, featuring seven runners each will all compete on Saturday at Busse Woods.
On the girls side, Libertyville’s Melissa Manetsch, Schaumburg’s Madison Marasco, and Barrington’s Jocelyn Long all have a shot at winning medalist honors, but Lake Forest’s own Brett Chody and Emma Millburn will be looking to break their way into contention as well. Going strictly off of times at the IHSA Regional–which, of course, can certainly vary significantly depending on course–Chody posted the third best time overall coming in to Saturday’s meet.
Chody and Millburn, who ran 17:14 and 18:46 respectively at the West Campus Regional meet last weekend, will certainly look to earn an individual spot at the IHSA State Final if the Scouts fail to advance as a team. Though familiar foes Stevenson and Libertyville will be tough in team competition, Prospect and Hersey will look to sneak in to the state meet in Peoria, while Barrington poses a significant threat as well. As is the case with boys’ race, 28 teams each racing seven girls each will be trekking towards the finish line on Saturday morning at Busse Woods.
After wrapping up the NSC championships earlier in the week, the boys and girls varsity cross country teams have their eyes set on the IHSA Regional trophy. This Saturday beginning at 10 am, the girls will race on the cross country course at West Campus in west Lake Forest. After a season that saw the Scouts’ top runners suffer a series of injuries, the team is back at full strength.
Brett Chody and Emma Millburn are likely to be the two runners to cross the finish line first for the Scouts. Chody, who earned a 2nd place finish in conference with a time of 16:58, and Millburn, a University of Illinois-commit, who finished 9th with a time of 18.29.7, will be key for the Scouts if they want to advance into IHSA Sectional competition at Hoffman Estates High School the following weekend. The girls will face off against the likes of familiar conference foes (every NSC team except Lake Zurich) while also facing non-conference opponents Highland Park, Round Lake. Seniors Erika Marchant and Grace Scheidler will each be counted on to post low times for the Scouts as well.
The boys team, fresh off of a 5th place finish in the North Suburban Conference, will be looking to make a dent in the IHSA Regional field as well. Nate Schmitt (8th in NSC, 15:15.1) is likely to be the first one through the chute for the Scouts, but will be followed by Ben Rosa, Eli Fietsam and Kyle Levin. Running on their home course, the Scouts have a chance to advance in to the IHSA Hoffman Estates Sectional field if they run well.
Come support the Scouts at 10 am on Saturday at West Campus.
GURNEE, Ill.– After having the originally scheduled date for the NSC Championships rained out on Saturday at the College of Lake County in Grasylake, the Lake Forest boys and girls varsity cross country teams traveled northwest to Gurnee, Illinois to take part in the rescheduled competition hosted by Warren Township High School’s O’Plaine Rd. campus.
The girls were the first to compete on the relatively flat home course of Warren on a beautiful fall day. The Scouts were paced by senior captain Brett Chody, who turned in a time of 16:58.0 to earn runner-up honors behind Libertyville’s Melissa Manetsch who was able to cross the finish line about eight seconds ahead of Chody. After an injury-riddled senior season, senior Emma Millburn, a University of Illinois commit, ran the 2.95 mile course in just under 18:30.0 to earn 9th place for the Scouts, while senior Erika Marchant crossed the finish just over the 20:00 mark to earn 35th place overall. As a team, the Scouts were able to 124 points, which was good enough for a 5th place finish in the league behind Stevenson, Libertyville, Lake Zurich, and Mundelein. It appears that the Scouts are returning to full-strength at just the right time as their next race is the IHSA Regional this Saturday at home at West Campus.
As for the boys, sophomore Nate Schmitt led the way with an 8th place finish after turning in a time of 15:15.1. Alex Tam of Libertyville was the race’s medalist, who ran the course in an incredible 14:36.7. Ben Rosa was able to cross the finish the line for the Scouts in 28th place while Eli Fietsam battled to finish 39th for the Scouts overall. As a group, the boys team accrued 97 points, good enough for 4th place behind the likes of Lake Zurich, Mundelein, and Stevenson. The boys will also return to action this Saturday at home in west Lake Forest.
LAKE FOREST, Ill.–No two cross country courses are created equal. Depending on elements, elevation, hills and other terrain, each day and each separate course presents a new challenge. Even with all that being said, a set a course record is every bit as impressive as it sounds.
On Tuesday night in west Lake Forest, senior Brett Chody–an All-State athlete, high honors student who had just returned from her official visit to Duke University in Durham, NC over the weekend–clocked in at 16:57.3 in a 3-mile dual meet race against Zion-Benton. To put that into perspective, Chody, who won first place honors in the event, finished 2:46 seconds before Zion-Benton freshman Kelsey Hamilton, who finished 2nd overall.
Chody, who has battled injury throughout her career, seems to be hitting her stride in this, her senior season for the Scouts. Her personal record times have improved each year, which is an especially remarkable feat considering that cross country athletes often peak at the beginning of their high school careers. Chody’s times have not tapered, but rather have improved steadily. In her 9th grade season on the varsity, her fastest time was 17:55; her sophomore and junior years both yielded a time of 17:26.5 as her personal best; this year, however, Chody’s mark of 16:57.3, a number that will live on in West Campus cross country lore is her now personal best overall. Even within the season, Chody has shown marked improvement in her times. In her first meet of the season, the Hinsdale Hornet-Red Devil Invitational on September 2nd, Chody ran an 18:13.7 on a very difficult course. And although the West Campus course is a relatively flat, simple course, shaving 1:44 off of any time is no small victory.
With the NSC championship, IHSA Regionals and Sectionals, and the IHSA State Meet at Detweiler Park in Peoria waiting ahead, the best is certainly yet to come for the fleet-footed senior. After her cross country season is complete, Chody will decide from a list of colleges courting her athletic and academic talents that includes the likes of Duke, Southern California, California-Berkeley, Michigan, Northwestern, and Vanderbilt.
After being forced to the sidelines for the entire spring track season of her junior year, Lake Forest Cross Coutnry’s Brett Chody is set to make her return to the course.
This Saturday when the Scouts take on Hinsdale Central at Katherine Legge Park in Hinsdale, the Scouts lineup will feature one of the state’s best distance runners for the first time since November 5th of 2016. That day, Chody turned in a performance that most runners would be proud of, but it was a race to forget for the competitive senior who turned 17 last week.
After posting a time of 17:50.7 in the 3 mile course at the Waukegan 3A Regional Championship a year ago–which earned her 6th place in that event–Chody fell back to 18:17.0 in the IHSA State Meet in early November, a far cry from her 17:26.0 personal record at Detweiler Park at the IHSA Championships the previous year.
Since then Chody has been anxiously awaiting her return and a chance to reclaim her reputation as one of the state’s premiere runners. This summer, she spent the entire three month break from school training in Crested Butte, Colorado at elevations between 7600 and 9600 feet per day with some of the most talented young runners in the world.
With her college decision looming in the future, Saturday’s race marks a new, important chapter in the return journey of one of Lake Forest High School’s most talented athletes.
I started my running career kind of abruptly. Deciding to join the Deerpath Cross Country team in seventh grade was a somewhat spontaneous decision. But I truly think it was one of the best decisions of my life. Running is not just my sport; it’s my outlet for when I’m stressed out and my refuge for when I need to calm down. I know many people don’t feel that way about running, but I do.
I often get asked how I have the drive, the motivation, the will to run every single day. I never quite know what to say because it’s hard to put into words. I love something that most people hate. Ever since middle school, my classmates would dread the mile run and the pacer–even today, a three mile race would not be at the top of many’s to-do lists. But for me, I have found a sanctuary within running and can’t imagine my life without it. It has become, without question, a part of me.
Having such a passion for running has been key in my cross country and track career. I know people who can’t stand going to practice and say that it’s their least favorite time of day, but it is the opposite for me. I find happiness in every run, whether the scheduled workout is a six mile base run or hill repeats. It sounds odd, but putting myself in an uncomfortable position where the workout hurts is what I love the most. Pushing my legs and lungs to the limit and completing a difficult workout is the most rewarding feeling in the world to me. There’s nothing that tops that “finished” feeling, having conquered a track, or a hill, or an opponent. My love for running has produced a strong dedication within me. There are days that I wake up two hours before school, layer up, and go for a 15 minute “shake out” run–a short, two mile run to get lactic acid out of my legs– in the pitch black and single digit weather. I go on my Sunday long run no matter what– whether that be having to complete it on the “dreadmill”, running on Christmas Day in Utah 7,000 feet above sea level, or driving to the Santa Monica Strand on my family’s trip to Los Angeles early before my sisters even woke up. I do it all to not only become better, but because running has become an integral part of every single one of my days and an integral part of my happiness.
And then it stopped.
On February 2, a little over a month ago, I felt something off in my left piriformis muscle as I got into my forty minute treadmill run. As the minutes went by, the pain increased.
Don’t stop, Brett. You haven’t stopped a run in forever. You’re fine.
I said this to myself over and again. But after about twenty minutes, I pressed the pause button– something that sounded the defeat alarm in my mind.
Did you really just do that?
I stretched for about thirty seconds, then got back into it. I told myself to shake it off and that I was fine. Only a few strides in, the twinges of pain returned. I stopped not once, but twice more–the second time I physically got off the treadmill and foam rolled for a minute before getting back on to finish my run. By the time forty minutes were up, I could barely walk.
Five days, a doctor’s appointment, two chiropractic sessions, one trip to acupuncture, and an MRI later, I was told I had a stress fracture on the left side of my sacrum, the bone that is at the base of your spine. I immediately started to cry. The words “stress fracture” are the last words any runner wants to hear– especially one who had been training harder than she ever had before all winter, trying her best to do everything she could to prevent injury, and setting big goals to accomplish during the upcoming track season. So many thoughts and questions clouded my mind.
Why me? What did I do wrong? Am I even going to be able to run this season?
My parents hugged me and told me it was going to be okay, but at that moment, all I could think was that “okay” was exactly what it wasn’t.
I was instructed to use crutches for two weeks to jumpstart the healing process of my bone. My only workout option was swimming laps with a pull buoy in between my legs– which meant no kicking– but I was also told not to swim too often because my body needed rest. I went from getting my heart rate up once or twice per day to having to be somewhat of a couch potato. I started having headaches, tearing up whenever I thought about my circumstances, and not talking about how I was feeling or doing to anyone. I spent my free time reading tens of posts about sacral stress fractures, only to be disappointed with each and every read because they all said “6 to 8 weeks of no running.” I simply could not imagine going that long without doing what I loved. I convinced myself I would run again in four weeks, injury or not. When I’d tell my parents that, they’d shake their heads and tell me that this was a serious injury, not just one that I could brush off.
My mom asked me if I wanted a career or a season. I sat on that for a while.
It was one particular Saturday when I was laying in my bed in the middle of the afternoon, head pounding, parents asking me to talk about how I felt when I realized I needed a change of attitude. Sulking and pitying myself was not going to heal my stress fracture any faster. I got out of my funk, went to Whole Foods with my mom and bought all my favorite foods, ate dinner with my parents, and then went to bed early and got ten very much needed hours of sleep. The next day when I woke up, I said to myself It’s a new day, Brett. Be positive.
I (somewhat) got the hang of walking with crutches and motivated myself to get to the pool and swim almost every day. Instead of dwelling on how long my recovery could be, I began to daydream about the day that I will finally be able to run again and how good it will feel. I came to terms with the fact that I do want a running career, not just this track season. I want to go on and improve on the collegiate level. This junior track season is not the end all be all for me, so I’m not going to injure myself even more by going back to my intense routine before my injury is healed. However, with all of that being said, my goals for this track season still remain in the back of my mind because with my shift in mindset and incredible determination to get healthy, I know they could still be attainable.
I don’t just think, I know that I will come back stronger. We all know the cliché quote, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” but I’ve got to admit that it’s incredibly true considering all I’ve learned in the past month. I didn’t take running for granted, but I definitely did not appreciate it as much as I should have. When I get back to running, I know that I will cherish every single time I get out on the roads, track, or even that uninspiring rolling tread. This injury has lit a fire within me to become even stronger than I was before, both mentally and physically.
I thoroughly believe that everything happens for a reason; that this is just a bump in the road for me. I may have stumbled upon my passion for running randomly and had no clue if I would even excel at it, but I know that there is so much more in store for me in the sport.
I can’t wait to be back in the grind of training, pushing my body to the limit each day. But until then, I’m just gonna keep my head up.
The Cavo and Sidles podcast welcomes IHSA Regional Champion Brett Chody to the podcast this week to talk all things XC. Chody discusses her favorite pump up songs, throwing ‘bows, and the upcoming Sectional Cross Country meet this Saturday at Waukegan’s course. She can run really fast and for very long and we think that’s cool. Make sure you take a listen.
The Lake Forest girls cross country team had perhaps their best meet of the year on the biggest of stages thus far, earning a 2nd place finish at the IHSA 3A Regional meet hosted by Libertyville on October 22nd.
Paced by a first place finish from junior Brett Chody (18:05) and a fourth place finish from junior Emma Milburn (18:51), the Scouts outscored every team except for Stevenson, advancing them further into statewide competition.
Also competing for the Scouts on Saturday were sophomore Courtney Schmidt, senior Haley Click, junior Erika Marchant, junior Mary Gregg and junior Grace Duggan.
The Scouts will again compete next Saturday, October 29th at the Waukegan Sectional. Congratulations to Coach Steve Clegg and the Scouts on an outstanding performance.
If you are a junior at the high school, you might know Brett Chody. But, perhaps more interestingly, if you live in Lake Forest and drive down the streets that make up the city’s east side, you might also–albeit not personally–know Brett Chody. And lastly, if you’re at all interested in following the best young cross country athletes in the state of Illinois, you might, again, know Brett Chody.
You can find her in stride on Sheridan Rd., or down Westminster Ave. or Woodland Rd. running at a healthy pace. I would hardly even compare it to the jog that we often see from the pedestrians in Lake Forest, motoring along to get their daily exercise. Because when Brett goes somewhere, she runs.
People often question the motivation behind cross country runners–especially high school kids who rule out “running for fun” rather easily. The constant running at the same pace for longer than a minute seems exhausting and boring to most people, and Chody admits, that at times it is, at least the exhausting part. The common perception is that people don’t run for fun, but that’s exactly where they’re wrong.
Brett Chody, a junior at Lake Forest High School, found a passion for running when she watched her sister, Elle, running for the Scouts when she was in the 7th grade. The concept of being outside while doing something she loved piqued the young middle schooler’s interest. So, in turn, Brett went out for the cross country team at Deer Path Middle School and earned her stripes. She wasn’t among the top girls in her class at first, but just loved that feeling of her heart rate skyrocketing as she ran her two to three miles every day.
Just like a basketball player going from five to twelve points per game, Brett consistently lowered her times as she continued to run throughout her early high school career. Soon, however, stardom loomed. Freshman year, she came to realize after her performance at the Peoria Invite, in which she ran a 3 mile race of 18:57 that she could compete with the best. Chody still recalls that event as a turning point in her career. “I was, like, whoa, breaking 19. I’ve never done that,” Chody recalls with a smile, only to realize that the 17:55 time that she would post at the IHSA State Meet would shave 3.5 minutes (yes, minutes) from her times at the onset of the season.
According to the humble yet accomplished Chody, who takes her sport very seriously but attempts to avoid the limelight of Lake Forest’s athletic spotlight, a good time doesn’t exist.
“It depends on the course. An 18:30 is really good on a hilly course, but not at the state meet . It’s more about competing against yourself and that’s partially what I love about the sport. Having the mindset of beating the time previously set by yourself is something you try to achieve everything single time you go out to run.”
Still, the need for running lies within Chody on a daily basis. “I can not go a whole day without getting my heart rate up. I just can’t.” Perhaps it’s that, or her rival just down Rte. 176 in Libertyville that churns Brett. Competition is something that drives her harder and harder each day, maintaining the mindset that her rival, Libertyville’s Melissa Manetsch, is working harder than she is.
Last year, Brett faced her rival twice, in the County and Conference meets in the spring during track season in the 2 mile run (3200 m) event. In one of her personal best races at the North Suburban Conference Meet, Brett was eyeing the school and conference record and had it within her grasp, but knew Manetsch was potentially standing in her way. She had to center her attention on her own performance and not worry about her rival, and she finished remarkably. Chody finished with a time of 10:43.08, good enough for the school record, and–much to her aggravation–a 2nd place finish. In that same race, her rival came in at 10:42.95, making it almost a photo finish. Still a sore spot for the competitive junior, Chody was reluctant to even discuss the details of that fateful conference meet last October.
“I felt I was pushing the pace at the end of the race, which caused me [Chody] to get a little more fatigued than usual. I was disappointed, sure, but I knew I had to get back to work and train just a little harder to get the conference record next time.”
In perhaps a redemption song effort for Chody, she finished ahead of Manetsch at the IHSA State Meet, finishing 6th in the 3200 m.
Mental toughness is what makes or breaks an athlete, whether it’s a pressure situation, playing through the aches and pains in your body, or even just zoning outsiders out of your head. Some athletes don’t have it. Just like every other sport, cross country training is strenuous. A daily practice consists of four to six miles while before a meet they usually run only 3.2 miles to prepare for the following day. Meets during the weekdays are usually always in conference battles while the weekend meets are typically longer because more teams from around the state are involved.
A typical meet on the weekend is a 3 mile run against lots of other participants, often from across the state. In those three miles, the realization of how tired you are doesn’t set in until the most important part of the race–the end. Trying to fight through the tired legs and reaching for any breath that they might have is not an easy thing for any athlete to do, especially at a crucial point in competition. While the running is always tough, Chody prepares her body beforehand by keeping it healthy. Eating healthy foods and drinking lots of water is something that comes natural to Chody at this point. Cross Country, as I have certainly found out, is a full day’s work. “It’s hard to get to a new level of speed. The second mile of every single race I ask myself, ‘why am I doing this?” Chody adds, but perhaps it’s the mental toughness instilled within her that keeps her going.
Confidence, of course, whittles away as the run gets longer. Although Chody’s knees get wobbly and her shins tirelessly ache, the thought of quitting never crosses her mind. Fighting through the pain is something that keeps Brett Chody’s mind focused on crossing the finish line every time.
Sure, she wonders at times why she chose to run cross country, but what athlete doesn’t wonder why they put their body in difficult situations until their finish line is reached?
Only a few athletes in the high school can really fight through tremendous exhaustion and be consistently excellent at what they do. The constant pain that crosses Brett’s mind while she runs never concerns her during a race. For her, it has become natural–like breathing, she can’t live without it.
One of Brett’s teammates in track, Abby Bertram, shared her own favorite story that sets Brett apart, “She is simply unbelievable,” Bertram laughs, “She once ran a two mile race (3200 m) and then ran another two miles around the school and neighborhood and came back to run another race. And that race was the mile (1600 m).”
Maybe Brett Chody is different. Perhaps that’s why she chose Cross Country. And that, in the end, is what makes her so good.