A helicopter parked there. An aircraft carrier floating over here.
Look, a sub. Not the sandwich, Jared. A real, Navy submarine.
A decorated officer.
And, suddenly, a decorated track runner got stopped in her tracks.
It’s funny who you see 750 miles from home.
Lake Zurich senior Lindsey Moritz spotted LZ graduate Audrey Bauer.
On a sports poster.
“I was looking at it and I was like, ‘Wait. There’s Audrey,’ ” Moritz said with a laugh. “I was just freaking out. I had to show my parents, and then we showed it to everyone we were on the tour with. It was funny.”
In early December, on an official track visit to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Moritz and her parents were taking a campus tour with fellow potential recruits and their families. That’s when Moritz saw Bauer on a poster promoting Midshipmen sports. Bauer, a 2010 graduate of Lake Zurich, stars for the women’s basketball team.
Bauer’s kid brother, Jerry, and Moritz are classmates at Lake Zurich.
Jerry Bauer will now know two athletes who attend Navy.
Moritz accepted an appointment from the academy last month and will run track for the Midshipmen. She raced at state for the Bears as a freshman and sophomore, and will cap a four-year varsity career this spring.
“That’s huge a deal for her,” said Lake Zurich track coach Lance Pacernick, who knows how difficult it is to secure an appointment from a military academy.
When a staff member from U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk’s office called Moritz last month to personally inform her that she had been appointed, it capped what Kim Moritz, Lindsey’s mom, called a yearlong process of application packages, medical physicals, Blue and Gold Officer meetings and nomination interviews with both senators and her Congressman, not to mention the overall stress of the process.
The new recruit is so excited to run for Navy that she’d probably sprint to Annapolis from home.
Last summer, she visited the academy for a week, staying in a dorm and getting a taste of what everyday life is like there.
“What I liked about it?” Moritz said. “Everything. I love the track. That really got me. And then just the atmosphere when I stayed there (last) summer ... I met all these different people. The career choices are amazing. Just everything appealed to me.”
Funny enough, Kim Moritz works for the Navy as a fitness specialist at the Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in Lake County.
Call it coincidence, however, that her daughter chose Navy to continue her education and running career.
“(Navy) contacted me for track and that’s what sparked my whole interest,” said Moritz, the youngest of three girls of Dan and Kim and the first who will serve in the military. “I got a letter from them saying they wanted to recruit me for track, and then everything just escalated from there.”
Moritz has unfinished business before she steps into a submarine or hops aboard an aircraft carrier.
Last spring, she ran three relays at the sectional, and neither earned a state berth. As a freshman and sophomore, she ran on three state-qualifying relays each year, while also advancing downstate in the 400 meters her sophomore year.
Last season, she ran the 800 relay and then, immediately afterward, sprinted the 400 dash. She came up shy in both attempts.
“She really chose to try to go downstate with her teammates,” Pacernick said. “She was a team player last year, and the reality was she did not qualify for state for the first time. That was tough, but hopefully we’ll solve that this year.”
“It was hard last year because we had to make up whole new relays because all of our senior athletes had left,” Moritz said. “We got the girls experience last year so I’m confident that we’re going to make it to state this year.”
The Bears’ sprinter group includes Teagan Hough, Madeline Jordan, Shelby Peshek and freshman Bella Murin.
Those are fast kids.
“I’m looking forward to (the season),” Moritz said. “I think it’s going to be a good outdoor season. It’s been a good indoor season.”
It’s been a fun ride for a girl who has lots more, in the air and under water, ahead of her.
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