“My dad was going running and he said I couldn’t keep up with him,” the Socastee senior recalled. “So I went running with him and beat him by like 10 minutes. I was waiting for him with a big smile on my face.”
More than a decade later, Lazaroff’s running career ended in much the same way – with him at the finish line of the Class AAA state cross country championships waiting to celebrate with his teammates.
Lazaroff posted his best time of the season with a 17:03 to earn a 15th-place finish and all-state honors, but his focus was on the team. The Braves finished fifth in the state, their best showing in school history, which is the primary reason he was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week.
“That was my best time and the first time I had led our team all season, but I didn’t care about that,” Lazaroff said. “I was cheering for my teammates and hoping we could get the best team finish possible. Fifth place was great considering we didn’t even win our region last year.”
The top-five finish was the result of a team concept the Braves used all season to increase their times. Practices were made competitive to push each individual to his limit, thereby taking the team to new heights.
“Our workouts were all about trying to push each other,” Lazaroff said. “We were killing ourselves, but it paid off. Our only loss during the (regular) season was to Carolina Forest, and we were missing two of our best runners.”
Ironically, Lazaroff would become the team’s top runner in the Lower State and the State after a season of shaving seconds off his times. After starting the season running in the 19-minute range, he set personal bests with a 17:49 in the Horry County Championships, then a 17:07 in the Region AAA meet, then he went out with his best time ever of 17:03 in his last meet ever.
“That’s always been my goal, just to keep improving,” Lazaroff said. “When I first started I was running it in 25 minutes, then Coach (Joe) Grega took over and we really started training hard. My times just kept getting better.”
Lazaroff fell 3 seconds short of his personal goal of a sub-17 minute time around the 3.1-mile track, but he still has lots of time to add to his list of athletic accomplishments. Lazaroff also wrestles for the Braves and had his run for a state championship derailed last season by a broken hand. The injury also prevented him from playing lacrosse, so he will try to go out a winner in that sport too.
“I’d love to go out with a state championship in wrestling, and I’m hoping we have a great season in lacrosse too,” he said. “I don’t plan on playing (organized) sports in college, so this is my last chance.”
Lazaroff plans to attend the University of South Carolina and follow in his footsteps in the dentistry field, but he owes much of his athletic success to the dare that saw him surpass his father’s footsteps.