After a freshman year in which he finished ninth in the region and failed to advance to the state cross country championships, Evans’ harrier Justin Weegar picked up the pace in 2012.
With multiple first place finishes and near-top finishes in others, Weegar’s sophomore year built up to the Region 2-AAAAA championships at Wildwood Park where he took the title with a time of 16:17. One week later, at his first state cross country championships, Weegar finished fifth, earning his first all-state accolades and The Augusta Chronicle boys cross country runner of the year.
Weegar said putting additional effort into his workouts made the difference between the two seasons.
“My freshman year I didn’t know how hard I needed to work to be able to reach my goals,” he said. “I didn’t run as fast as I could have, potentially. Over the summer after I came back from cross country camp at Florida State, I realized ‘Wow, there’s a lot of good competition out there. I have to step up my game.’ So, I’ve been working a little harder.”
He started the season on time after beginning 2011 on the football team.
“I saw him run in middle school and said that’s a mistake, we need to go and get him out,” Evans cross country coach Mike Lennox said. “He came out so late that’s there’s not a lot we could have done. But this year he came out full throttle. And his work ethic has improved. There’s no question about it.”
Weegar went to wrestling after the cross country season, but after what he called a bad race at the Footlocker South Regional, he is even more focused on his running now.
“I was out of shape from my abilities ‘cause I’d been wrestling two weeks and I hadn’t run very much,” said Weegar, who has since left the wrestling team. “I learned my lesson, probably, based on that one race. I think if I had done good in that race I’d still be wrestling. I guess it’s a positive.”
After running against some of the top runners in the state, Weegar is setting his goals even higher for the rest of his high school career, especially after competing against state champion Brad Hort, of McIntosh, at the state race.
“I guess my goal for next year would be to beat that time (16:22.64) at state,” Weegar said. “That’s one of my goals. Seeing where he is, and he made it to Footlocker Nationals, I want to be able to do that next year. And he did it his senior year. I want to be able to do it my junior year and my senior year, to know that I am first-place state potential.”
While Weegar strives to improve, there is also another impetus behind his running.
Weegar’s mother Misty was slain Aug. 11, 2010, when Weegar was in middle school. The memory of his mother has been a driving force.
“My sister and I say that she gives me angel wings when I run,” Weegar said. “That’s why I go so fast, I guess.”