Alfredo Lebron was a state champion his senior year of cross-country in 4A. He has had to make several adjustments moving into a collegiate running career at Garden City Community College in Kansas.

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Alfredo Lebron was a state champion his senior year of cross-country in 4A. He has had to make several adjustments moving into a collegiate running career at Garden City Community College in Kansas.

Moffat County graduate learning to deal with changes in college

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Alfredo Lebron is a 2012 graduate of Moffat County High School and one of the most successful runners in school history. He won the individual state championship in cross-country as a senior and placed fourth as a junior. He was a two-time state champion at the 2012 Colorado 4A Track and Field State Championships, and owns the Moffat County record in the 800-meter run. During his senior year in Craig Lebron committed to run at Garden City Community College. After a difficult senior track season, in which Lebron did not meet all his goals due to not being allowed to run for significant parts of the season, he trained over the summer to prepare for a new experience. Lebron’s talent as a runner is undeniable, but the end of his high school career and beginning of college have been up-and-down. In part one of this story, Lebron talks about his first cross-country season in college. Part two will run in the Monday, Dec. 31 edition of the Craig Daily Press.

Heading to college is a momentous time in anyone’s life, signifying a significant change in one’s life, even if school is not far from home.

There are new responsibilities coupled with greater freedom, and all sorts of new people to meet and places to see. It can be a difficult adjustment for even the most prepared of young adults.

Adding a busy athletic season into the mix only increases the challenge and stress of change. For Moffat County High School graduate Alfredo Lebron, starting college life has been a positive change, but it has come with some bumps and bruises.

The 2012 MCHS grad attends Garden City Community College in Garden City, Kan. and runs for the Broncbusters cross-country and track teams on a scholarship.

In his first collegiate cross-country season, Lebron saw some success, but also had difficulty adjusting to a different training regimen and new race lengths.

“It was a whole lot different,” Lebron said of the season, which concluded in November. “Going from being one of the best in high school to down lower. Basically it was starting over is how I felt.”

Aside from a change in scenery and a higher level of competition, Lebron also dealt with a new coach, training style and race length. College cross-country races are 8-kilometers as opposed to the 5-k’s run in high school.

At times, Lebron said, his new life wore him down.

“For a little bit I’d say it did turn more into work than anything,” he said. “I think that’s more because it was a little tougher than usual. Sticking it out paid off definitely.”

And bear in mind Lebron's first priority is to succeed in the classroom, and budgeting time for school and homework only added to the difficulty of the transition.

“I need to stay focused on the schooling aspect of it,” he said. “That was really tough, too. It’s not like high school where you have more time to do your homework. It felt like there wasn’t enough time, really.”

Garden City’s head cross-country coach, Dan Delgado, said he saw the difficulties for much of the season.

“The thing about Alfredo, he has so much talent, but what he has to learn above and beyond all that is how to channel and structure his day to get the most of his talent,” Delgado said. “Those things include schoolwork and making the right decisions on other important things.”

Delgado has seen similar situations play out with many athletes during his eight years as coach at Garden City, and knows it can be difficult for freshmen athletes to strike that balance between practice, schoolwork and play.

“Regardless of where (students are), whether junior college, a small school or a university, it is a big step,” he said. “I’ve had good students that have found a way to struggle. I’ve had talented kids that aren’t able to push through. You have to be honest with them. You have to tell them the things they’re going through. There’s a light that’s waiting for Alfredo to click.”

The season was not all downers, though. Lebron recorded the fastest time by a Broncbuster this season, at 25:18, and ran as part of the eighth-place finishers at the NJCAA Division I National Championship.

“Finally when I had that good time, it was exactly what I needed then, I thought,” Lebron said. “I never got back there this season, but hopefully I can get there again.”

Delgado has no doubts Lebron can run that time and faster, but he believes it will have to come with development and maturity.

“There’s no question Alfredo Lebron is a great talent and runner, but the world is full of stories of people who were great but didn’t cut it,” he said. “The discussions I have with Alfredo are he did not achieve to the best of his ability as a student or as a runner. But that’s why they call you coach. Those are hard things to teach. That’s my plan for Alfredo, but it has to be him that says, ‘I like that plan,’ and accepts it.

“When Alfredo does that, watch how much better his life is going to be (in running) and when it comes to taking on other monumental tasks.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com.

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