Whenever he’s sitting in class during school hours or at home on supposed days off, Emerald Ridge High senior runner Lance Slichko starts to get antsy.
Only one thing helps ease the situation: running.
“I kind of have to go out and run,” Slichko said. “I mean, it’s kind of a mental thing where I can’t really take a day off where I’ll lose my mind. It’s been cemented into my brain that I have to go out and run.”
I kind of have to go out and run. I mean, it’s kind of a mental thing where I can’t really take a day off where I’ll lose my mind. It’s been cemented into my brain that I have to go out and run.
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It’s hard not to be antsy during moments of inactivity when every aspect in your life is timed; everything has to be on the schedule Slichko has set for himself. It’s the reason he made sure he had the ability commit to a college now, instead of waiting to the spring like many cross country and track runners of the past.
Slichko recently committed to Seattle University after he started communicating with the school during his junior year.
“I began emailing the coaches introducing myself to them, knowing they couldn’t talk to me until my senior year. I wanted to make sure I was comfortable about the school and athletics,” said Slichko, who committed to Seattle U for both cross country and track.
That inner desire to be out in front has led Slichko to the fifth-best time (16 minutes, 3.4 seconds) in the West Central District 3 entering the week, with a real chance to set his pace and take a top-five spot at the upcoming Westside Classic on Oct. 29.
Although he has a tendency to be antsy at times, Slichko has worked hard to slow things down and become a more patient runner, something that he wasn’t earlier in his prep career.
“I’ve definitely became a smarter runner,” Slichko said. “This year, my paces are pretty much equal. Where last year and the year before, I would go and sprint the first mile then just die the last two.”
The ability to wait calmly for something is not easily acquired — especially at a young age — and even more so in a sport designed around time.
Lance needed to learn the art of pacing, he needed to learn the art of tactics. In the last two years, I’ve seen him mature as a runner and as a competitor, so now he’s a smart racer.
Emerald Ridge coach Jay Bates
It’s the runner versus the clock and nothing else, so it’s understandable if a runner in Slichko’s position wants to make things happen. But that can’t always be the case with long-distance running.
“It so fun to watch, because every meet he ran, he ran his hardest. Every practice he ran, he ran his hardest, too,” Emerald Ridge cross country coach Jay Bates said. “Lance needed to learn the art of pacing, he needed to learn the art of tactics. In the last two years, I’ve seen him mature as a runner and as a competitor, so now he’s a smart racer. He’s now gotten so much smarter as a runner that it’s going to compliment his sheer aggressive force in how he goes about competing.”
There were two moments over Slichko’s career that stood out to the senior that defined his career. The first came when he qualified for the state meet in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races as a sophomore.
Then, as a junior at Star Track last spring, Slichko paced himself in the 3,200, eventually finishing in eighth place (9:22.43), one year after failing to place as a sophomore.
“Having a good track season definitely made it easier to get motivated to go run this summer,” Slichko said. “But the biggest thing I’ve learned is to be more patient during the races. That has kept me at the top during races this year.”
And now those lessons are paying off this season, giving Slichko a real chance to claim a top-five spot at the state meet and a potential chance to make it to the Nike Border Clash in Beaverton, Oregon on Nov. 20.
“Getting there would say a lot about how much I’ve improved,” Slichko said.