MCHS runners struggle in Nike cross-country meet |

MCHS runners struggle in Nike cross-country meet

Joshua Gordon

At the mile marker of the Nike Cross Southwest Regional meet Saturday in Mesa, Ariz., Alfredo Lebron found himself in an unfamiliar situation.

Competing with the best cross-country runners from Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah, Lebron was falling back in the pack.

After winning the Colorado 4A state cross-country championship, Lebron, a Moffat County High School senior, said he expected to compete for a top five position and a spot in the Nike Cross National meet.

However, after three weeks of not being able to train with his team and turning his attention toward hockey, Lebron finished in 16 minutes and 17.88 seconds — good for 71st.

"Really, after state, I quit training," Lebron said. "I tried a week of doing hockey and running at night after, but I figured I was still doing stuff, so I quit running.

"The difference is, hockey is sporadic movement and you can rest and coast to regain your stamina. In running, you are going for a lot longer and it takes a lot more out of you."

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Lebron said the conditions also factored into his performance.

Running on a narrow golf course in warm temperatures was something he wasn't accustomed too, Lebron said.

"It was definitely a lot hotter there than what we normally run in," he said. "As soon as I started, I felt more tired and people kept passing and passing me. I normally have a kick to make up ground, but I felt like I was jogging out there."

The boys championship race included 253 runners from the five states.

Dakota Ridge's Danny Carney was the top Colorado finisher, coming in second place with a time of 15:12.71.

Lebron said the combination of a narrow course and 253 runners made for a tight race.

"You couldn't use spikes in the race because right from the beginning people were getting kicked and hit in the side," he said. "It was a fast course with kids coming in under 15:30, but it was tough to pass kids."

Teammate and fellow senior Dale Nakai joined Lebron in Arizona.

Nakai ran in the boys open class and finished 194th with a time of 17:54.83.

Like Lebron, Nakai said not having a team to train with made it difficult to prepare.

"With a coach, he would push you all the time," he said. "When you are by yourself, you can do whatever you want and you don't have teammates there to go with."

Still, 514 runners competed in the boys open class.

Nakai said his finish, while not quite what he had hoped for, was a good end to his season.

"I think I had a good cross-country season," he said. "I was nervous heading into the meet, but the atmosphere was friendly and there were a lot of good runners."

Going into the regional meet, Lebron said he was nervous, but mostly because of his training.

Still, the MCHS senior said he was happy with his time and still has track season ahead of him.

"I ran my average time I had all year, I was just hoping to push myself a little more," he said. "I don't care how hard it is on top of hockey, I am going to start training for track on Monday and run about four times a week.

"I want to get in race shape early and definitely have a comeback from what happened (in Arizona)."

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Alfredo Lebron and Dale Nakai’s individual results from the Nike Cross Southwest Regional meet Saturday in Mesa, Ariz.:

(Name — time — place)

Lebron — 16:17.88 — 71

Nakai — 17:54.83 — 194*

* Boys open class