Megan Knoblock didn’t have much time to celebrate getting through to the finals of the 1,500 at USA Track & Field’s Junior Olympics.
Just hours after clinching her spot with a 5th-place finish in 5:11.37 in the prelims at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Knoblock was back in New Jersey for a workout and an evening soccer game.
Such is the life of a three-sport athlete—but Knoblock’s doing what she can to balance the sometimes-conflicting priorities.
“I try my best not to think about it during the race,” she said. “A soccer game can’t take away the amount of work I put in that day.”
Some of that’s easy to control—during weight training sessions in the summer, she mostly stays away from leg work, concentrating on her upper body and core, and keeps to a regular running program.
But summer soccer games can mean another five or six miles of running, which can take a toll.
“It’s really difficult,” she said. “Hopefully the summer league games don’t take too much away.”
They didn’t take much Thursday, when she was able to shave seven seconds off her time from regionals.
After a solid start, she was a little off in the second lap and dropped toward the back of the pack, forcing her to make up ground in the second half.
“I had to work really hard to catch up back to fifth place,” Knoblock said.
Though the finals are still days away, she’s already getting her strategy and pace plan together for Sunday, with her sights set on a group of girls who ran just over 5-flat in the prelims.
Knoblock has run close to that just recently, clocking a 5:07 at the Rowan Open in the spring, and said she thinks she can push herself under that by staying with the fast pack early.
“I’m really going to try to stick with them,” Knoblock said.
While improving her time and competing for a spot on the podium are important, there’s another reason the soon-to-be senior is making a go of it this summer.
With her eye on track, rather than soccer or basketball, when it comes to college sports, Knoblock said a big part of why she took aim at the Junior Olympics was to get a preview of what college track might be like.
The verdict after the prelims, where there was a good crowd on hand to cheer on the athletes, was a big positive, Knoblock said.
It may be even more so in the finals on Sunday, which is sure to draw a bigger crowd. Knoblock is actually taking time out of her vacation—her family heads to Ocean City Saturday—to take her shot and get another look at what she may have to look forward to in the years ahead.
"It was amazing," she said. “It was a really eye-opening experience."