Prep cross country: Proctor's 'Syd the Kid' is finally healthy and making the most of senior season
Sydney Binsfield never quit on anything in her life, but the Proctor runner was that close to saying enough is enough last spring. Binsfield had been coaxed into going out for track to begin with, only for a nagging hamstring to flare up again ea...
Sydney Binsfield never quit on anything in her life, but the Proctor runner was that close to saying enough is enough last spring.
Binsfield had been coaxed into going out for track to begin with, only for a nagging hamstring to flare up again early in the season. She rested, regrouped and rebounded by qualifying for her first state track meet in the 3,200 meters.
"I didn't think it was real," Binsfield said of the experience in which she finished 12th in Class A in a personal-record 11 minutes, 45.59 seconds.
Now a senior, Binsfield is proving that when healthy, she is also a force to be reckoned with in cross country. Binsfield should be among the top runners at Saturday's 68th annual Swain Invitational at Enger Park Golf Course.
"I'm sure Syd would like to finish up there, maybe top five," Rails coach Lowell Harnell said. "Mesabi East's Ava Hill got beat last year, when I was thinking at this time last year she was invincible, so it's great competition."
Binsfield has been on varsity since seventh grade and always has had the talent - she earned All-Lake Superior Conference honors her first season - but the summer before her ninth-grade year the injuries started.
Binsfield put a lot of miles in that summer and had just completed the Park Point 5-Miler with a strong time when suddenly she couldn't walk.
Binsfield suffered a stress fracture in her right leg, which was put in a cast for about six weeks. Not long after her cast was initially removed, her leg was put back in for another month because it wasn't healing right.
"I think the doctor didn't want me doing any type of exercise with it," Binsfield said, laughing knowing that's hard for her to do.
Binsfield realized she could no longer run seven days a week and now runs every other day while mixing in swimming and biking for a low-impact workout.
In addition to dealing with shin splints over the years, Binsfield pulled a hamstring a year ago - biking of all things - and could only spectate when the Rails won their third straight Section 7A girls team title.
Binsfield's hamstring flared back up in the spring.
"That's when I was very close to quitting," she said, "but I thought I had made it this far, I might as well stick with it."
Binsfield started receiving chiropractic treatment and worked out a more limited schedule with Proctor assistant track coach Glen Gilderman. They scaled back on her workload and only hit certain meets. It paid off, and now Binsfield is seeing the benefits.
"Syd and I had a really good talk about perspective and running and competing for the enjoyment of it," Gilderman said. "She has learned to appreciate the value of rest, and I'm so excited that her success and health has continued into cross country. It couldn't happen to a better person."
Despite Proctor graduating its top two runners from last year in Hannah Bettendorf and Annika Voss, Binsfield has provided a jolt for a team hoping to compete with the likes of Mesabi East and North Shore for a fourth straight section title. Binsfield's younger sister, Morgan, is a sophomore on the team.
"We didn't really run as a team over the summer, and when we had our first meet at Chub Lake, Syd did awesome," Harnell said. "There was nobody who touched her. She beat a lot of boys, too, and it was like, 'Wow. She's looking good.' "
Binsfield ran a 5K personal-best 19:21 two weeks ago at the Milaca Mega Meet, good for third. The captain won the 22-team Hibbing Rotary last week going away in 19:38.1, winning by nearly 50 seconds.
It's no wonder Harnell calls her "Syd the Kid." Besides being a talented runner, she's mature and bright. While Binsfield technically goes to Proctor, she spends more time at Minnesota Duluth, where she is taking 13 credits this fall through her Post Secondary Enrollment Options. She will basically be a junior academically as soon as she enrolls in college.
"I don't know if Syd has been a surprise, but wow, it's been a boost," Harnell said. "I didn't think she'd be that far out front. She was pushing Ava Hill at the Eveleth meet (in mid-September), even leading for a bit. That's pretty darn good, because a year ago nobody touched Ava in northern Minnesota. Maybe Ava was having a bad day, but it was still kind fun to see, to see Syd run with her. Syd had a smile on her face the whole race, and (the) Hibbing (Rotary meet) was the same way."
Understandably, it's hard for Binsfield to not have injuries on her mind, but the senior is doing what she does best, staying focused and running full speed ahead.
"I'm very paranoid about getting injured again," Binsfield said, "so I just have to keep smiling."
68TH ANNUAL SWAIN CROSS COUNTRY MEET
Where: Enger Park Golf Course
Schedule: Class A girls, 1:10 p.m.; Class AA girls, 1:50 p.m.; Class A boys, 2:30 p.m.; Class AA boys, 2:55 p.m.
Fast fact: Started in 1951 by former Duluth Central cross country coach John Swain, this year's meet has 62 teams registered and more than 2,000 runners
PREP NEWSMAKER: SYDNEY BINSFIELD
Prep status: Proctor senior
Sports: Cross country, Nordic skiing and track and field
School activities: National Honor Society
Family: Father, Cory; mother, Mary Binsfield; sister, Morgan, 15
Pets: Two dogs (Flash and Oreo) and three cats (Bob, Sherman and Lou)
College plans: Likely attend Michigan Tech or Minnesota and major in environmental engineering; undecided on running at the next level
FACE-TO-FACE WITH SYDNEY BINSFIELD
One thing people don't know about me: I eat two apples a day
My ideal vacation: Spain
The toughest athlete I've competed against: Mesabi East junior Ava Hill
If I had a million dollars, I would: Take a vacation and give the rest to charity
Fear or phobia: Heights
Hobbies: Mountain biking, hiking and laying in a hammock (she carries one around with her)
Car I drive: 1999 Toyota Highlander that I call the Raspberry (better than it being a lemon)
Favorite home-cooked meal: Mom's spaghetti
Favorite book: "Unbroken" (World War II biography by Laura Hillenbrand)
Favorite quote: "Hard work works"
At the top of my bucket list: Bike across the U.S.; it's kind of crazy, but me and my mom want to do that together
Favorite musical group: Hippo Campus (indie rock band from St. Paul)
Meet-day superstition: Having my hair in braids
Last website I visited: mymathlab.com
Social media of choice: Snapchat
What I like about cross country: The grit of it. You get out what you put into the sport. You have to be passionate about it. I've always loved running.