Athlete of the Week: Braves follow Lazaroff to finish line

T.J. Lazaroff might have never taken up the sport of running if not for a dare from his father.

“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.

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7 responses to “Athlete of the Week: Braves follow Lazaroff to finish line”

  1. John Smith says:

    I don’t understand how Cam Richards did not win this award. He was the #1 surfer in the country that week yet, he loses this award to a guy who finishes 15th in the state in track and field. Really does Lazaroff deserve this award? The guy is not even the best guy in the state, yet Cam is the best in the country and loses out. I guess it goes to show you how people have no clue about what they are voting for sometimes, Lazaroff does not deserve award and should give it up to Cam. When was the last sporting event Lazaroff was first in? A perfect example of how stupid voters can be

  2. admin says:

    Hey John Smith (not your real name, I’m sure)

    The award is based on voting. We nominate 3 exceptional athletes each week and the viewers vote for their choice. I would imagine that TJ’s school got behind him and gave him a ton of support.

    This doesn’t in any way diminish the value of what Cam achieved. Winning GromSearch is a BIG deal. TJ’s accomplishments are a BIG deal as well.

    I hope that helps you understand the process a little better. Feel free to use the contact form on our page if you have any other questions.

  3. TJ Lazaroff says:

    Looks like we got some haters…dude is probably jealous cause he was never nominated!

  4. John Smith says:

    Tj… Bro I just hate to see someone get robbed , like cam did,, he is ripping up surfing right now… he just won in sf, just finished 3 in France and just won in fl against pro’s what was the last contest tj won??? winners deserve to win awards, i felt cam should have won this award because he is killing the surf comp right now ,, he was a surfing national contest and won,, why shouldn’t he have won this award?
    if tj went against national competition and won, then I could see your point but he finished 15th in the state where,, where cam was 1st in the nation!

    Tj-15th in the State
    cam-1 in the Nation,,,
    and by the way I live in Florida where cam is making headlines down here for winning Comps, yet i don’t see Tj’s name in any papers down here,, now tell me who really is the athlete of the week?

  5. John Smith says:

    You know, maybe you should make it to where it is one computer one vote… I live in fl and I know the accomplishments Mr cam is making yet i never heard of tj..i don’t understand someone who is finishes 15th the state yet beats out someone who was a national champion….just saying…this should not be a popularity contest about who can get the most votes but , more about who actually deserves the award… just saying cam got robbed,,,,

  6. John Smith says:

    I will stand by what i am saying … people are stupid when they vote, ….because which award would you rather have a 15th place in a state comp or a 1st place in a national comp,, like i said Cam was the one who deserves this award,

  7. John Smith says:

    Oh I understand the process,, just saying why should someone who is 15th in the state win out over someone who is number 1 in the nation. sound like your voting process is not very fair …. maybe this needs some adjustments….like I said there are a lot of dumb voters….15th over 1st,,,,,me ill take 1st all day long…..

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