For Devin Houchin and Betsy Lee, the worst part about participating in the Lawrence Track Club is its early wake-up call.
But Houchin, a Lawrence sixth grader, and Lee, a Lawrence fourth grader, took advantage of their favorite LTC activity on Sunday at KU's Anschutz Pavilion an actual meet. The two participated in the Missouri Valley AAU-sponsored Region VIII Youth Indoor Championships.
Competing in the 11- to 12-year-olds' division, Houchin earned a tie for first in the 1000-yard run, and Lee took first in the 600 and fifth in the 300.
"I was pretty pleased," Houchin said. "But I like running outdoors better. You don't have to run as many laps."
Lee, on the other hand, preferred indoor's non-weather.
"With no weather, it can't be canceled," Lee said. "It's not really hot. It's air conditioned."
BOTH PRACTICE with the LTC before school.
"You have to get up at 5:30 to make it," Houchin said. "That's the worst part. But there's one girl on the team, she goes to school in Tonganoxie. She has to be here at 5."
Both girls faced a little adversity at Sunday's meet. Houchin's trouble was the nervousness of running her first-ever 1000.
"I had never run the 1000 before," Houchin said. "I was worried about how to run, how to pace myself. But as soon as I saw I was running with the bantam boys, I was OK. I was a little ahead of 'em."
She was ahead of just about every one. She tied with Sueanna Hilton, unattached, for first in 3:10.7.
Lee's grief was an asthma attack that hit during the 300.
"Sometimes running the 300, I had to stop some," Lee said. "I was worried about getting wind, not about getting it out."
She nonetheless finished fifth in 47.8 and first in the 600 in 1:52.5.
"I got first and fifth," Lee said. "I was very pleased."
The top three finishers in the top three classifications ages 13-14, 15-16 and 17-19 qualified for National AAU championship. That meet will be held Feb. 15-16 at Anschutz.
HOUCHIN AND LEE, despite their top-three finishes, won't compete then.
"We're too young," Houchin said. "That's very disappointing, especially since it's here."
But the two girls have competed in nationals before. Lee ran in the 400 last July in Tallahassee, Fla., and Houchin competed in the 800 in July, 1990, in Orlando, Fla.
"I really liked nationals," Houchin said. "It's fun to see the sights. But we really want to go together."