“I think we will do a similar schedule like run, workout, long run and pre-run, but it will be a faster workout and longer runs. The guys there give 100 percent all the time and the practices just seem to be more intense.”
— Alfredo Lebron, a Moffat County High School senior, on what he expects when competing on the Garden City Community College (Kan.) cross-country and track teams.
Alfredo Lebron returned to Craig from Garden City, Kan., in early January with a letter and an important decision to make.
The letter, issued from Garden City Community College, outlined all the scholarships Lebron would receive if he committed to run cross-country and track for the school starting in the fall.
Lebron, a Moffat County High School senior, wouldn’t have to pay a dime for school if he ran for the Broncbusters, but he had always saw himself competing for a Division I school.
Yet, it took him a week to think about it before he signed on the dotted line and mailed the letter back in, signaling his intent to run for the college.
“I visited schools like Western (State) and Colorado State University, but when I visited Garden City, it just felt right,” Lebron said Wednesday. “I met the team, stayed in the dorms and got to see the campus. The city is bigger than Craig and the school is bigger than most community colleges.
“The team is really good and I just feel it was a great decision.”
Besides the success of the programs and the financial assistance, Lebron said another deciding factor was a runner already competing for the Broncbusters — Chris Zirkle.
Zirkle, a 2011 Hayden High School graduate and freshman at Garden City, ran on the MCHS cross-country team with Lebron in 2010, with the two finishing third and fourth, respectively, at the state meet.
Lebron said Zirkle didn’t pressure him to choose Garden City, but both are excited about the opportunity to compete together again.
“Chris is going to come back this summer and I will train with him as kind of a pre-practice on what to expect,” Lebron said. “The practices will be physically tough, but I think Chris has helped me mentally prepare for the season and when I get there, I plan to run with him like we did here in Craig.”
Todd Trapp, the MCHS cross-country and track head coach, said he thought Lebron going the junior college route was a good decision right out of high school.
“(Junior colleges) are a smaller environment and the kids can work with the coaches and have success before going to a bigger program,” he said. “Chris (Zirkle) went to Garden City and was successful and I know the coach there likes what he has seen from runners from this area.”
Lebron joins a long list of MCHS runners to go on to the collegiate level, including 2011 graduates Maddy Jourgensen and Lauren Roberts.
Trapp said it’s not just his coaching, but the runners’ talent that has propelled them to the next level.
“Honestly, we have had a lot of talented kids come through our program,” he said. “It takes a talented individual to go from being successful in high school to being successful at the college level.
“Every program here has had kids move on, but our running program has had a lot of good kids.”
Besides missing his family, Lebron, the 4A state cross-country champion, said the biggest challenge of running in college would be on the cross-country course.
In high school, cross-country runners run 5,000 kilometers while in college, athletes run 10,000 kilometers.
Still, Lebron said he is excited to compete in different events in both cross-country and track.
“I feel the longer distance I go, the slower I will get, but I guess I will not know until I try it,” he said. “In track, I would like to stick with the 800-meter run and the mile, but I definitely want to try the steeplechase because I think it would be a really fun race.”
Lebron, who plans to major in mining engineering, said he expects workouts to be similar to what Trapp does for the Bulldogs, but more intense.
“I think we will do a similar schedule like run, workout, long run and pre-run, but it will be a faster workout and longer runs,” he said. “The guys there give 100 percent all the time and the practices just seem to be more intense.”
Garden City is a two-year college, so Lebron said he still wants to run for a Division I college after he’s done competing for the Broncbusters.
And, eventually, he hopes he can compete professionally.
“I definitely want to be able to run while I can, and not just for fun, but to compete,” he said. “I talked to the best runner at Garden City, Amos (Bowen), and he said he wants to run professionally after college.
“I think Garden City will be a good start and hopefully I can work my way up to the Olympic level.”
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