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St. Teresa senior Boston Stewart (549) is back running track after sitting out because of transfer rules and injuries. He hasn't run track since he was a freshman at Sangamon Valley.

DECATUR — For a while, all Boston Stewart could do was watch and wish he was out running and playing soccer.

He spent his freshman and the first half of his sophomore seasons at Sangamon Valley playing soccer and running track. Meanwhile, his brother Jackson was running at St. Teresa.

Boston transferred to St. Teresa for the second semester of his sophomore year, but had to sit and wait. Per IHSA rules, Boston couldn't play sports for the Bulldogs for a year. That meant he couldn't participate in his sophomore track season and his junior soccer season.

“I’m really competitive," Boston said. "It was hard sitting there, looking at them all run and win races. I was pretty jealous, to be honest."

When spring sports started last year, Boston was eligible to run track and eager to get back out and race, but a broken ankle he suffered in January 2018 ended that hope and cost him his junior track season. It was his first major broken bone. 

It was a quick recovery, two months faster than it was predicted to take, Boston said. Because of that, he was able to play soccer this past fall and is back running for the Bulldogs as a senior. It's the first time he's run track since his freshman year at Sangamon Valley.

Boston never considered calling it quits in the midst of sitting out for two years. He leaned on his family and St. Teresa girls track coach, and cross country coach, Todd Vohland; even when he was hobbling around St. Teresa on a bum ankle.

At last weekend's Illinois Top Times indoor track meet, he finished fourth in the Class 1A 800-meter run. 

“I feel like I’m definitely going to try to make it count," Boston said of his season. "It’s my last shot. I wouldn’t trade this for the world right now."

During the year he had to sit out, Boston got his soccer fix by playing club soccer and got his running fix with the cross country team — even though he wasn't allowed to compete. That Boston still put in the work stood out to Vohland.

“Like his brother, he’s a competitor," Vohland said. "I think it says so much for a kid who knows — cross country is hard — he’d never run cross country before. For him to come to practice every day knowing you’re never going tor run in a meet for really six months, I think tells you an awful lot."

While he wasn't running, Boston watched Jackson score three top-15 finishes at the Class 1A cross country state meet, including fourth place as a senior this past fall. He's qualified for the state track meet twice and finished eighth in the 3,200-meter run as a sophomore.

Boston was watching, itching to return.

“It really fueled my fire, to be honest," Boston said. "I really wanted to beat him so much."

They had a relay team in junior high and are on a relay team again for the Bulldogs this year; Jackson as the first runner and Boston as the anchor. Boston calls this season "nostalgic."

But just how far can Boston go, having not run track since his freshman season and learning the intricacies of the sport in a compact time?

“I think he’s a potential all-stater in the half and maybe the mile," Vohland said. "If we get everybody healthy, there’s a chance that 4x8 team could maybe make the finals down at state, too. He's certainly capable of going under two minutes (in the 800), there’s no question about it.'

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Contact Joey Wagner at (217) 421-6970. Follow him on Twitter: @mrwagner25

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Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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