Marvin Ridge’s Lexi King crossed the finish line 52 seconds before her closest competitor and in 19 minutes flat at the Southern Carolinas conference championship cross-country meet earlier this fall, easily topping the 61 other runners.
But it was a performance that only scratched the surface of her ability.
King is already one of the most talented runners to come through Union County and is the 2013 Union County Weekly Girls Cross-Country Runner of the Year – and she’s only a freshman.
King developed her love of running through Girls on the Run, a nonprofit that meets twice a week and combines running with an interactive curriculum designed to help develop positive lifestyles for pre-teen girls. It wasn’t long before King realized she was a natural for the sport and decided to pursue her interest further at the competitive level.
From Girls on the Run, King transitioned to the Maverick cross-country team when she entered high school in the fall. She turned in impressive times throughout the season, but it wasn’t until regionals that King showcased her dominating ability.
King turned in her personal-best time of 17:52 at the 3A Midwest Regional meet at McAlpine Greenway Park on Nov. 2, easily besting the second-place runner by 31 seconds and overtaking her own record by eight seconds.
“I went into the regional meet looking for a good conclusion to the end of the season, and I knew that I wanted to get my time down,” King said. “It was my personal best and I felt really good about that race.”
King’s performance as the top runner in the county is no easy task – especially on the Mavericks, who are loaded with talent. Marvin Ridge features six girls (Nicole Renwick, Melanie Hussey, Alexia Noch, Kaitlyn Brown, Kylie Hennessey and Jennae Jacob) that have finished under 20 minutes and placed in the top 16 in the region –and perhaps what’s even more impressive is that they’re all underclassmen.
“Running on this team has been such an amazing experience,” King said. “Being at the high school level, with new teammates and our ability to work together has been great. I thought I was going to have to adjust a lot more to the high school level and the differences in races and competition, but it was fun and not really an issue. My teammates helped me get in the swing of things.”
King and her teammates went on to compete at the 3A state meet, where she finished fifth overall in 18:32.49 – a rare feat for a freshman but a time that King wasn’t exactly pleased with.
“It was kind of an off day,” she said. “I just didn’t have my best race. I think that was because I was a little nervous, coming into the state meet as a freshman and I think that let it get to me.”
Even still, her time was fast enough to place her ahead of 126 runners and turn in the best time from a Charlotte-area runner. And with three years left in her high school career, King won’t be slowing down at all.
“I just want to keep getting my time down, each year,” she said. “My team wants to win states next year and I think we can do it. That’s our goal. I want to win a state title, and I know that I have to work really hard to get there.”