PORTLAND – With the coming of the indoor track season, Jack Terwilliger set some goals for his senior year at Cheverus.

Two seem well within reach: Attain the best high school time in the 2-mile run; win the New England championship in the mile run.

“I think I can get there, if I really work at it,” said Terwilliger.

But there’s one goal that Terwilliger truly aspires to reach – and to maintain.

“My main goal is to make it through indoors without any injuries,” Terwilliger said.

He returns to the indoor circuit as one of the state’s top distance runners, yet over the past few seasons of indoor track, outdoor track and cross country, Terwilliger has battled some form of ailment or injury. Most recently, he missed most of the cross country season with Iliotibial Band Syndrome, an inflammation of the band of tissues that run down the leg between the hip and the knee. He trained for less than 10 days prior to the Class A championships but still finished fourth.

The challenge this winter is to find the balance between training properly and overtraining.

“To become a good runner, to run well, you have to run a lot of good miles,” said Terwilliger, who plans to run at Dartmouth. “To run a lot of miles you have to stay injury-free. It’s a balance. Train as much as you can, without getting hurt.”

Last year, Terwilliger helped Cheverus place second as a team at the Class A championships and helped the 3,200 relay team to the state title. Individually, Terwilliger finished third in the 3,200 (10:12.07) and sixth in the 1,600 (4:39.58).

He also was a year younger than a group of distinguished runners (Brunswick’s Will Geoghegan, North Yarmouth Academy’s Henry Sterling and Cony’s Luke Fontaine) now in college who, Terwilliger said, helped him understand the dynamics of the individual aspect of the sport.

“They were older guys, so they were role models,” Terwilliger said. “Will and Henry Sterling, we all had similar training patterns and all ran in similar events. They ran fast, and they made me want to run fast. It wasn’t learning from them. It was trying to learn about myself as a runner from them. I learned how to run my own race, but trying to win the race and not just trying to get a good time.”

In his first year as head coach of the Stags, Steve Virgilio already has a plan for Terwilliger. Embrace the science of running and, in his words, “how it applies to Jack Terwilliger.”

It’s a combination of metabolic training, strength training, conditioning, core development and flexibility training. These are methods and training areas that Terwilliger admits are new to him.

“To be injury-free,” Terwilliger said, “you need cross-training and core training. In running, you’re using the same muscles over and over again, and the other ones you don’t use get really weak. doing a lot of training, I definitely could be even better. But I don’t want to hurt myself. I know what my body can handle.”

Virgilio said a number of factors comes into play when working with Terwilliger.

“There are other variables that go into it, aside from just science and training and his unique response to it,” Virgilio said. “It’s even about how he’s feeling, about school, about stress and whatnot. Communicate with the athlete and try to find the best way, with Jack, so that he can get better.

“Running is his talent and what he’s obviously done for so long, but trying to supplement it with strength training and conditioning can, hopefully, take him to another level in running.”

Virgilio anticipates that without any major health issues, Terwilliger will further distinguish himself as one of the state’s top indoor distance runners.

“I really want to help Jack to get better and to progress, because I really think he can go onto the next level and become a very special athlete,” Virgilio said.

“A lot of times athletes have a great high school career and they don’t go on to do anything. But I’m not as adamant about what he does objectively in this season as much as growing his passion and keeping him healthy. I think that he wants to (do three events) and do what Geoghegan did, and if he wants to do that and he’s healthy, then we’ll go after that, for sure.

“But if it’s better for him to go for one or two races and go big at that, we’ll do that. I want him to have success, stay healthy and get better and maybe hit some big times.”

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

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