With a Colorado state cross-country title under his belt, Alfredo Lebron is moving on to a bigger stage in his final year.
Lebron, a Moffat County High School senior, and fellow senior Dale Nakai will compete in the Nike Cross Southwest Regional meet Nov. 19 in Mesa, Ariz.
The meet is a qualifier for the seventh annual Nike Cross Nationals meet Dec. 3 in Portland, Ore.
“If I place high at regionals, I have a shot at making nationals,” Lebron said Thursday. “I think I have a good shot, and I just want to see what I can do against good competition.”
To qualify for the national event, Lebron needs to finish in the top five.
In 2010, the boys race consisted of 280 runners from Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.
The top returning placer from last year’s race is the only runner to beat Lebron this season — Dakota Ridge’s Danny Carney.
Carney, a Class 5A runner, beat Lebron at the Arapahoe Warrior Invitational, the first meet of the season. Carney finished in 16 minutes, 17 seconds while Lebron came in at 16:24.
“I’m going to see some kids I have raced with before and some kids I have never heard of,” Lebron said. “Carney beat me in Arapahoe, so this is like a rematch. Because I don’t really know anyone, I have no one to look for and I have to just go out and do what I can do.”
At the 4A state meet Oct. 29 at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds, Lebron led the pack with a time of 16:24.87.
However, Lebron said head coach Todd Trapp told him he thinks he can do better.
“Trapp said at state he thought I looked relaxed and that is why he wanted me to run in the (Nike) regional meet,” he said. “He wants to see what I can do if I push myself the entire race and not just at the end.”
Lebron said Trapp gave him a workout to use while he is training, but not having teammates around is challenging.
“You can do your own thing and listen to music, but it is all on you to push yourself,” he said. “I like training with the team a lot better, but I won’t slack off because I know I need to benefit from what I am doing.”
While Lebron is pushing for a national berth, Nakai said his choice to run in the regional meet was based on his state performance.
Nakai took 65th with a time of 17:58.57.
“I don’t think I hit my peak at the state meet,” he said. “I want another chance to finish better.”
Like Lebron, Nakai said training is more difficult without a team, but he is sticking to what he did throughout the season.
Ultimately, Nakai said he wants a top 100 finish and a time under 17 minutes.
“I know the competition is going to be tough,” he said. “I have to keep training hard all the way through next week and just run my best race.”
For Lebron, getting a top five finish may require a different strategy than he is used to.
“I may have to run this race a little differently by not being the leader for the first part, but work my way up throughout,” he said. “Everyone is going to be going all out and doing their best, and I have to do what I have to do to be at the top.”
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