Alfredo Lebron brings home state cross-country title to Moffat County |

Alfredo Lebron brings home state cross-country title to Moffat County

Joshua Gordon

Alfredo Lebron, a Moffat County High School senior, eyes the finish line Saturday during the 4A state cross-country meet at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds. Lebron finished in 16 minutes and 24.87 seconds to win the 4A state championship. Lebron is the first MCHS boy cross-country runner to win a cross-country state title since Clint Wells took first in 1992.

With his nearest competition 7 seconds behind, Alfredo Lebron raised both arms and held up one finger on each hand as he ran through the finish line Saturday.

The Moffat County High School senior wasn't smiling, rather catching his breath and being congratulated by everyone nearby.

Lebron crossed the finish line in 16 minutes and 24.87 seconds Saturday at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds to win the 4A state cross-country individual championship for Moffat County.

"I'm glad the season is over and pumped that I just won state," Lebron said after the race. "I've been waiting for this for awhile and was lucky Chris (Zirkle) wasn't here."

Zirkle, who competed for the MCHS boys cross-country team last year, was Lebron's inspiration for his celebratory pose across the finish line.

It was also Zirkle and the seniors who came before him, Lebron said, who helped push him to become the runner he is.

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"It is like a big surprise for me," he said of winning the state title. "Each year, when upperclassmen would leave, I knew I had to run with the next seniors to keep getting better. Eventually, Chris left and I had to do it by myself this year."

Before his freshman year, assistant coach Jennifer Pressgrove said her and her husband, David, encouraged Lebron to compete in cross-country.

"I think he always had the talent there even as a freshman," she said. "Boys always seem to get better as they get older, so how well he finished as a freshman, we knew he had the potential to be the runner he is now.

"He has gotten a lot more confident in who he is as a runner and pushes himself more."

Heading into his senior year, Lebron was the top returning finisher from last year's state meet.

Lebron finished fourth behind three seniors, including Zirkle, in the 2010 race.

At every race this season, Lebron said, he knew he was the one other runners wanted to beat.

"I thought about it on my way up here," Lebron said of his expectations. "I try to take my mind off it, but it was nerve-racking knowing I was supposed to win it and if I didn't what would happen."

Pressgrove said if Lebron was ever worried, he never showed it.

"He did great with it," she said. "After losing Chris last year, who he ran with and trained with, one might worry he wouldn't have someone to push him in practice. But, he really exceeded that and he finished well all year.

"He had a goal in mind and he went for it."

At about the 1 1/2 –mile marker Saturday, Lebron and about three other runners trailed the front-runner by about 100 meters.

"I knew I would have to start picking it up even if the other guys didn't," he said. "I would have had to break the wind by myself, but they went with me and I noticed the guy in front was getting tired."

Lebron's second challenge came with about 800 meters and one big hill to go.

With four runners entering the final half-mile, Lebron said his training gave him the advantage.

"Our strong point is hills, so going in I knew if anyone is with me or ahead of me, I can use the hill to catch up or get away from them," he said. "I did my best to kick it in from the bottom of the hill to the finish line."

Lebron is the first MCHS state cross-country champion since Alicia Nelson brought home the title in 2008 and the first boy runner since Clint Wells won it all in 1992.

Having coached him for four years, head coach Todd Trapp said Lebron is a special athlete.

"You could tell all along he had what it took to be a champion," he said. "Runners like him, you can kind of tell there is something about them that they will be good if they continue to work hard and improve.

"He has improved a ton, but he is very talented as well, and right now I'd say we are just scratching the surface of how good Alfredo could be."

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Moffat County High School’s individual state cross-country champion history:

(Name — year)

• Orlie Duran — 1963

• Orlie Duran — 1964

• Charlie Vigil — 1970

• Jinny Mortensen — 1992

• Clint Wells — 1992

• Christina Moyer — 1995

• Christina Moyer — 1996

• Alicia Nelson — 2008

• Alfredo Lebron — 2011

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