Lebron leads MCHS boys cross-country into state meet today | CraigDailyPress.com

Lebron leads MCHS boys cross-country into state meet today

Joshua Gordon

The Moffat County High School boys varsity cross-country team competes today in the 4A state meet at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds after taking first place in the 4A Region 5 meet Oct. 19 in Delta.

At 10:30 a.m. today at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds, Alfredo Lebron will be lined up for the 4A state cross-country meet.

In a sport that involves running for just over 3 miles, Lebron won't be stretching his legs as much as he will be stretching his arms.

"I think your arms are a big factor in your stride," the Moffat County High School senior said. "When you are striding your legs, your arms come into play and you need to be ready for that."

And, when the gun goes off, Lebron will start his last race as a MCHS runner.

In a year where no other 4A runner has finished ahead of him, Lebron said anything other than a state title would be a disappointment.

"I'd feel a little down, but I am more than sure I will show up doing what I can do," he said. "I don't normally have bad race days, so if someone beats me it is because they are overall better than me.

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"I am going in expecting first."

Chance almost missed

When Lebron started his freshman year in 2008 at MCHS, he had a choice to make in which fall sport he would participate.

Having played football since he was in grade school, jumping on the gridiron seemed reasonable.

On the other hand, soccer was a sport he also enjoyed.

However, a push from his eventual cross-country coach the summer before nudged him in the right direction.

"(David) and (Jennifer) Pressgrove talked to me at a Young Life camp and they told me to show up for a practice and see how I liked it," Lebron said. " I did and I showed up in basketball shoes and casual clothes and didn't talk to anyone.

"I felt out of place, but I wanted to be a part of the team."

Even as part of the team, Lebron almost didn't finish the season.

"As a freshman, I wasn't good at all and seriously wanted to quit," he said. "It felt pointless."

But, Lebron stuck through his first year and ran at the state meet as the only freshman Bulldog runner.

He finished 90th with a time of 17 minutes, 43.27 seconds.

"Coming out of middle school, you don't do much because your long run is like 15 minutes," he said. "You could show up to practice with the same clothes you wore to school. High school is a big change."

In the spring of his freshman year, Lebron competed on the track team.

At that point, Lebron said, he realized the two sports would help him improve.

"My sophomore year, I stuck with cross-country and saw a big difference," he said. "I ran track and the two helped each other. Each season would help with the next."

The teammates

Lebron won't be the only MCHS runner competing at the state meet.

The boys team won the 4A Region 5 cross-country meet Oct. 19 in Delta.

Lebron will be joined by fellow seniors Rene Molina, Dale Nakai, Miguel Molina, Wyatt Villa and Johnny Landa, as well as sophomore Taft Cleverly.

Two of the seniors — Miguel and Landa — pulled double duty this fall, with Miguel splitting time between football and cross-country and Landa also playing on the soccer team.

Miguel said he woke up for practice at 6:15 a.m. every Monday and Wednesday to run with coach Todd Trapp.

"Practices are really tough," Miguel said. "I have to get up in the morning and run, but it takes my energy for the day, and when football comes, I get a little more energy but I get so tired.

"But, Trapp is there and he pushes me. It feels like I have a personal trainer there for me."

Trapp said having a group of runners who can run together is the key to being successful.

"The only way to be competitive at high-level races is to be able to have multiple racers finish high," he said. "The guys have stayed healthy this year and we have one strong individual and a very good pack behind him."

Miguel, Landa, Rene and Nakai competed in the state meet last season, so Miguel said they know what to expect.

Trapp said having six seniors on the state team is fantastic.

"Having older runners, they have been competing longer and they are stronger overall in fitness and in knowledge of cross-country," he said. "They understand what is at stake in the big races and what needs to go into the practices leading up to that."

One final shot

Since his freshman year, Lebron has continually improved at the state meet, placing 18th his sophomore year and fourth last year.

But, for the first time in Trapp's reign at MCHS, this year will be different for everyone.

"This is the first time coming into state that people are looking at one of our kids as the one to beat," he said. "Alfredo has run good individually and now he has to win the 4A state title."

The MCHS boys team has not had a state cross-country champion since 1992, when Clint Wells led the pack.

Lebron said Trapp has been instrumental in his success as a runner.

"Trapp goes into every little detail with me for a run," he said. "He knows a lot about what he is doing and he runs with us and knows if he is pushing us too hard or not getting enough. He helps me out all the time, even in the classroom.

"I have a lot of respect for him, so if I make him upset, I do my best to make him happy."

But, when it comes to the final stretch today at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds, it's all going to be on Lebron to finish his career in first place.

"With all the cheering, it makes me feel like someone is coming up on me," Lebron said of the final stretch. "But, I know I am going as fast as I can already. Once I see the line, I just go as fast as I can until I get there.

"I am not the runner who looks behind me to see where they are. I do what I can do and hopefully it's enough."

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