By PAUL HINES
Mallory Bergbower’s high school success has led to a collegiate opportunity.
Bergbower committed to Rend Lake College and will compete for the girls cross country team.
“Honestly, I’ve loved everything about her,” Rend Lake College girls cross country coach James Wooldridge said. “I want those kind of people around. I think she’s only going to get better as a runner, and I’m just happy she’s choosing us as well.”
One adjustment for Bergbower will be moving from being one of a couple Webber runners to a full team at Rend Lake.
“Just being in a group, it’s so much easier to hunt in a pack than to just be out there all on your own,” Wooldridge said. “That will be the most of it.
“She’s already a pretty mature girl so I think she’ll jump right in and be really competitive right off the bat.”
Bergbower qualified for the state finals all four years at Webber. Her career culminated with a 99th-place finish in a time of 19:34 at Peoria in her senior season.
“She’s got all the tools to be successful, and she’s been successful in high school,” Webber girls cross country coach Roger Yates said. “But she hasn’t tapped into that full potential yet, and that’s going to happen because she’s going to enter into an area now where you have bigger numbers to train with.
“It will be better when she practices now, the numbers will be bigger. She’s going to be pushed harder in practice.”
Bergbower said staying close to home was a priority when picking a college.
“I don’t have to move out, which I wanted to stay at home. I really like the coach. I know he knows what he’s doing, and he gives me all kinds of good advice.”
Rend Lake is located in Ina.