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updated: 8/10/2011 10:41 PM

Stancil's priority is BMXcellence

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  • Lake Villa resident Felicia Stancil, an incoming junior at Grayslake North, recently won her 10th world title in BMX racing.

      Lake Villa resident Felicia Stancil, an incoming junior at Grayslake North, recently won her 10th world title in BMX racing.

  • Grayslake North players Felicia Stancil, left, and Katie McGrath set up a block opposite Grayslake Central's Hannah Smith last fall.

       Grayslake North players Felicia Stancil, left, and Katie McGrath set up a block opposite Grayslake Central's Hannah Smith last fall.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer


Standing tall on her airborne custom-made BMX bicycle, which she recently rode to victory at the world championships, Felicia Stancil dishes dirt.

To those trailing and trying to catch up, it's a racer's way of saying, "Eat my dust."

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The Lake Villa teen's own plate is completely different. She eats only what's good for her athletic body.

So she declines the offer to indulge, even if the gesture is strictly out of kindness and respect for the new champion, who's actually been one since not long after kicking the training wheels off her little bike.

"Pick one," the track operator at the BMX park in Waukegan says politely to Stancil, waving a pair of just-opened, chocolate-covered, crunchy, chewing candy bars at her.

Thanks, but no thanks.

"I'm eating healthy right now," she explains.

Sweet and 16, with long brown hair and a smile that belies the competitive beast in her, the 5-foot-8 Stancil has an appetite that most girls (and boys) her age don't possess.

She craves BMX racing.

And despite winning her 10th world title July 28, when she captured the BMX World Cup in Copenhagen, Denmark, despite her 18 national championships, she's hungry for more.

She's turning professional, and this past Sunday, Stancil, an incoming junior at Grayslake North, flew to California, where this week her world-class racing skills are being scrutinized perhaps more than ever before.

"They want to see what she has against the pros," Jamie Stancil, Felicia's dad, says.

Jamie Stancil knows what his oldest of two daughters possesses and has known it for a long time. A BMX racer himself during his youth, he later gave the professional circuit a whirl.

"I tried it for a while, until I met her mom (Samantha) and fell in love," Jamie says of his late wife, who died in an automobile accident when Felicia was little. He's now married to Mary.

"When (Felicia) was 4, I saw something that I thought could be special," adds Jamie, who's a calibration technician for Baxter Healthcare, where he started working after graduating from Antioch.

Felicia was about 4 when she felt confident that four wheels on her bicycle was superfluous.

"I begged my dad one day to take off the training wheels and I had no trouble riding a (two-wheeled) bike," Felicia says. "He didn't have to help me at all. Then he brought me to the (BMX) track one day and he asked me if I wanted to do it. I said, 'Yes,' and I've been riding since then."

Felicia started racing at 4 and, by 9, she had her first world title.

"I was the biggest tomboy," she says with a laugh. "Boys clothes and all."

When Felicia was in fifth grade, she fractured her back. She wore a custom-made brace for 23 hours a day and was ordered off her bike for six months.

The accident never fazed her. Once healed, she hopped back on her bike and resumed jumping dirt mounds, flying high and pedalling fast.

The more terrifying skills she executes, the better.

"That's the fun part -- the scary part," Felicia says. "Jumping is the best. The bigger tracks are better."

She has negotiated her bike on tracks all over the globe, showcasing her riding talents in the Netherlands, Paris, Canada, Australia and South Africa.

She will be, technically, too young for the 2012 Olympics, so she is eyeing the 2016 Games in Brazil.

It's a lofty goal for the girl who loves aiming high, whether it's on a bike or with her feet on the ground.

"My main goal is to win the 2016 Olympics," she says.

Stancil aspires to be a doctor someday, but like the sports she plays in high school, it's not her focus these days. A varsity volleyball player as a sophomore, she's considering giving up the sport and passing on basketball, as well. After earning all-conference honors in the triple jump her freshman year, she did not compete track and field this past spring in order to concentrate on her BMX racing.

Next month, she hits the pro circuit. She is scheduled to pedal in the Grand Nationals in Louisville.

Her dad knows she won't be out of her league.

"She's really aggressive (on her bike)," Jamie says. "She rides more like a boy. You don't see many girls do that."

"A lot of girls (competitors) say I'm crazy," Felicia says. "Like I'm one of the few girls who jumps big stuff."

Soon, she'll be steering a car. She gets her driver's license in a couple of months, meaning Jamie won't have to keep driving her around.

"Once I get my license, I'm coming to the track a lot more," Felicia says, smiling.

Clearly, she's driven.

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