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Lukas Verzbicas Shines Despite Friend’s Cancer Diagnosis

Illinois running and triathlon superstar wins rare distance triple and team trophy at New Balance Nationals soon after learning his close friend, triathlete Kevin McDowell, has a form of cancer.

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Illinois running and triathlon superstar wins rare distance triple and team trophy at New Balance Nationals soon after learning his close friend, triathlete Kevin McDowell, has a form of cancer.

Last week was extremely bittersweet for national record-setter Lukas Verzbicas.

It started with emotional turmoil on Wednesday when the Orland Park, Ill. senior found out that one of his best friends, Kevin McDowell, had just been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer.

“He’s the best triathlete in the nation,” Verzbicas said of McDowell, who is a senior at Geneva High School in Geneva, Ill. “He was third in the World Junior Championships. We’ve been friends since (age) 10. He’s the nicest person in the world. It was a huge shock. I couldn’t train and I couldn’t sleep (the rest of the week).”

Still, just two days later the 18-year-old phenom shaved 12 seconds off his own national record when he won the 5,000-meter run in 14 minutes, 6.78 seconds during the prestigious New Balance Indoor Nationals at the Armory in New York City.

Read More: MaxPreps