Golden Eagles among the swiftest in SFL

Freshman runner out of coma
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Looking at her tiny stature, the irony in Alexa Lua’s nickname “Big Daddy” is clear. In reference to this Del Oro cross country runner’s talent though, the proportions are just right. Lua is currently the No. 1 girl runner on the team. Since freshman year, she has improved to live up to her big nickname. “Freshman year I got onto the varsity team and I was really small and shy and the upperclassmen just started calling me ‘Big Daddy,’” Lua said.” Now that they’ve graduated, I know I have to be the leader, I think that’s helped me improve. I just like challenging myself.” With most of her teammates from last year graduated, Lua said many young runners could fill the top seven spots on the varsity team. “We are doing pretty good,” Lua said. “There are a lot of different options for the girls, so we have been trying to figure out what will be our top seven.” Running in the No. 1 boys spot is senior Trevor Stephens. Stephens and Lua agreed that Woodcreek would be their toughest competitor in the Sierra Foothill League. “They have more top girls that are closer to each other when they finish,” Lua said. “We just have to wait until our other girls get faster.” Stephens said although the team has over 50 athletes on it, they have developed a close camaraderie. Practice consists of two to three hours of mile repeats. “We’re in a building year,” Stephens said. “We’re training harder this year than we have in the past.” Despite being on track for a great season, Del Oro cross country coach Kevin Ostenberg said the team is feeling the absence of freshman Lucas Armand. On Sept. 23, he went into cardiac arrest while miniature golfing with friends. After his heartbeat was re-established, Lucas was put in a medically induced coma. The cause of the cardiac arrest is still unknown. “It wasn’t something you’d expect from someone so healthy,” Ostenberg said. “That is maybe what is going to help him have the best chance to get through this.” Nearly a month later now, Lucas’ father David Armand has promising news. “Lucas is out of his medically induced coma and is now in a low-level state of consciousness,” Armand said. “When awake, Lucas’s eyes are wide open and he increasingly (but still occasionally) moves them toward sounds. Most friends and family members that sit at his bedside and look into his eyes while talking to him know they are connecting with him.” Armand said his son’s athletic background gave him a better chance of survival. “One thing all medical staff agree on is that Lucas’ physical conditioning and ability to push himself - qualities typically associated with competitive runners - saved his life,” Armand said. One of his parents has been with Lucas 24 hours a day since he was admitted to the hospital. In the midst of everything, Armand said he has been overwhelmed by the support the community has offered. That has included notes, cards, gift cards, home-cooked meals, financial assistance, and prayers from the Del Oro student body and their families. Some members of the community even stayed with his parents in the middle of the night at the hospital. “We have been amazed and humbled by the outpouring of support from community at large. As his parents, we always knew that Lucas is a special, kind-hearted person but we never really considered how many people’s lives he has touched over his 14 years,” Armand said. Lucas was especially proud to be a part of the cross country team at Del Oro and has been running with his father and sister for years. “He especially loves his cross country family,” Armand said. “Lucas would often come home and declare that he ‘ran with the Pros (the fast, upper class men) today’ at practice. Kevin and Linda Ostenberg have crafted a program that includes hard work, fun and mutual respect that is enjoyed by both the athletes and their parents.” Moving forward, Armand said his family just wants to see Lucas back out living the life he loves. “The best way for us (his family) to express our gratitude for all the support from the community is to have our Lucas pick up where he left off,” Armand said. “For that, we humbly request that you continue praying for Lucas to make a full recovery.” Reach Sara Seyydin at ______________________________________________________ Alexa Lua and Trevor Stephens’ tips for a better run Carb-o-load: “We have spaghetti feeds before races,” Lua said. Be flexible- “Stretch before and after. A lot of people stretch before, but it’s equally as important, if not more, to stretch after,” Stephens said. Drink it up- “Drink a lot of water. I have this cup and I just fill it up three or four times. I have a water bottle I take to school.” Don’t eat three or four hours before a race- “I won’t feel good if I eat closer to a race than that.”