Athlete of the Week: Braves find new leader in LeFever

socxc-lefeverWhat a difference a year has made for Socastee High cross country runner Nicholas LeFever, who has made great strides over the summer to improve from a middle-of-the-pack member of the Braves to the front-runner for his team so far this season.

The junior co-captain was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week after leading his team across the finish line to win in the North Myrtle Beach Invitational 5K and a home tri-meet last week. Replacing former standout Justin Knipper as the Braves’ top runner, LeFever credits his surge to motivation, a mentor and a whole lot of miles.

“This time last year I did not expect to be our No. 1 runner, but I decided I wanted to run in college so I knew I had to put in the work,” LeFever said. “I found a mentor (in local runner) Jonathan Kinsey and he ran with me a lot this summer. Last summer I did no training, I think I ran 3 miles before the season. I ran over 500 miles over summer.”

LeFever’s hard work is evident in his times. He has been consistently flirting with the 18-minute mark (18:05 and 18:06 in his last two races), although he did run a career-best 17:47 in a non-school event. His current times are 2 to 3 minutes faster than his 2014 numbers, thanks in part to guidance from Kinsey, a former fellow Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week.

“I ran a 5K and met Jonathan and he was really nice and helpful,” LeFever said. “I averaged 40 to 50 miles a week and he ran with me a lot. I could really tell a difference (Saturday at the Coaches Classic at Sandhills Research Center). Last year it was my worse race at 21:50. This year I did it in 18:06.”

LeFever led the Braves to a 15th-place showing in the regional meet that features more than 50 top teams from around the Southeast. He hopes to continue improving to help Socastee make a deep run in the postseason, and to keep his grades up and times down in order to realize his college cross country dream.

“With all the hours I’ve been putting in (a college scholarship) would mean the world to me,” said LeFever, who hopes to attend Elon or College of Charleston but is open to other schools. “I just want to continue working hard and help build our program and hopefully I will get an opportunity.”

Photo courtesy of SHS Athletics

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