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DAILY NEWS BOYS RUNNER OF THE YEAR: Meet Cumberland freshman Cameron Roedl

Feb. 1—TOLEDO — Cumberland freshman Cameron Roedl is the Daily News Male Runner of the Year.

Roedl finished his high school season by placing in the top five in six three-mile events he competed in. He was also the only male runner to qualify for the state meet.

The road to Peoria wasn't an easy one for Roedl, though.

Head coach Jim Miller said that he was "trying to figure it out" in the early stages of the season.

"When they first come in from middle school, the middle school distance is two miles, so there was a period of adjusting," Miller said. "He was running two miles really well, but three miles, he hadn't figured it out."

It was mid-October when Roedl finally got a full grasp of what to expect once the postseason came around.

"I could tell in early October that he was starting to figure it out, so he just progressed from that point on," Miller said. "He figured out how to race the distance, and it's not an easy adjustment; not everybody can make it, but he seemed to thrive at the end of the year and kept getting better all of the time."

Roedl placed third at the Bulldog Classic Cross Country Invitational, finishing with a time of 16 minutes and 14.9 seconds. He followed up with another third-place finish, this time at the Fairfield Regional with a time of 17:44.1.

Roedl then qualified for state after finishing 12th at the Decatur (St. Teresa) Sectional. He ran that course in 16:07.1.

The lowest time of the season for Roedl then came at the most challenging meet. He ran Detweiller Park's course in 15:54.4 and finished 58th.

Overall, the hype was worth it.

"I think his potential is endless," Miller said. "He thrives for end-of-the-year competition; the bigger the race is, the better he seems to rise to the occasion. He was not afraid of pressure."

Miller added that he had been watching Roedl run for many years prior to this past season. He finished second at the Class 8-3A State Track Meet in both the 800- and 1600-meter runs just a few months before stepping into the hallways at Cumberland High School.

The only question Miller had was how mature he could be anchoring the team at such a young age.

"I'd been watching him for several years and knew he'd be an impact kid right away," Miller said. "I figured he'd come in and be our No. 1, but was he mature enough to accept that role?"

Roedl did just that, though, and became a "team runner" in the process, according to his head coach.

The workouts that Miller had him do also helped.

"A lot of times, I prepare the teams not for that week of running but for the time thereafter. He seemed to buy in really well. About mid-September, I told him that he's going to have to crack 16 (minutes) and he totally understood that. He kept working on his practices and his splits.

"We probably worked more on his base mileage — gathering running longer — and then, we like to mix things up. We worked on that time and bringing it down and saying, 'OK, this is what you got to have,' and he went with it and this young team went with it, too. They followed him."

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Cameron was asked a series of questions from Daily News Sports Editor Alex Wallner.

Below is how he responded.

AW: Talk about your season overall.

CR: "It started off pretty slow. Coming out of middle school, going two miles to three miles was a big change, so I had to work a lot harder in practice. Then, in the middle of the season, I started to figure things out. I got to know the coaches a lot better and then it just escalated from there."

AW: What do you love the most about representing Cumberland County and Cumberland High School?

CR: "We all know each other. You go out there and run your best and everyone will say, 'You did a good job this weekend.' Everyone talks to you."

AW: What was it like for you to advance to state and then get a personal record at the meet?

CR: "Getting to state was a big achievement. I thought this year, I had a pretty good chance, but there are a lot of good runners in the southern Illinois and central Illinois area, so getting to state was a big achievement and getting a PR was even better."

Contact EDN Sports Editor Alex Wallner at 618-510-9231 or alex.wallner@effinghamdailynews.com.